From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, September 05, 2014 8:05 pm

> [to George B-N] I disagree somewhat with your statement that
> accidental stereo "has no relevance. . . .
> On the Duke Ellington recordings, I hear more clearly how dry
> the studio was (heavily draped, almost claustrophobic), but
> also I hear more clearly individual brass and woodwind parts.
> In mono, Duke's arrangements are somewhat dense and his guys
> played in almost perfect lock-step, so it's harder to pick out
> individual parts. For instance, in the second medley, the snippet
> from "Black and Tan Fantasy" appears to have two muted trumpets,
> playing exactly the same thing, sitting on each end of the section,
> with the players in the middle playing different parts. I can't hear
> that, or the separation of the saxes, in mono.  -- Tom Fine

I was just going over our video of Vince Giordano's ARSC NYC talk where
he discusses the problems of trying to recreate an arrangement from
recordings.  I know he would welcome this type of perspective in the
recordings he has to use.  The only analogous aid are films of the band
performing where you can see who plays what. I was literally
front-row-center for Vince's Town Hall Whiteman concert on Feb 12, and
there was one piece where four reeds sitting side by side were trading
off measure-by-measure.  It was amazing -- in mono it would have sounded
like one player.  (I had my Zoom recorder in my tote bag -- I wish I
would have had the guts -- and permission -- to have recorded that in

This use of multi-channel recording -- stereo or not -- was something
that Alan Lomax embraced in his field recording when portable stereo
tape recorders became available.  On the other hand, Moe Asch HATED
stereo, and preferred his folk recordings to be a dense mono mix of
instruments and voices all coming from one point.  I don't think Lomax
minded if the soundstage was a beautiful curtain of sound -- he was
pinpointing individual instruments or voices for transcription and

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]  

Section omitted from George's above quote: 
>> By relevance I mean something that will teach us something
>> about the soundscape at the time, or recording practices 
>> or -- by giving greater transparency -- a deeper insight
>> into the performance that was manifestly going on while
>> recordings took place.