Monday, August 3, 2009

It’s in the Groove

By Kremena Krumova


Until recently, Thomas Edison was considered the first man to record sound. He recorded “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in 1877 and played it back using his own invention, the phonograph, which reproduced music from a bulky cylinder.

But last year, an older recording was discovered. “Au Clair de la Lune” was recorded in 1860 by French Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. He invented a device called phonautograph which was equipped with a needle which followed the sound vibrations and etched the waves produced onto a sheet of paper smeared with oil-lamp soot.

There is also a claim—albeit controversial—by Belgian scientists who say they have analyzed the curves on a clay vase dating 5,000 years back to the city of Pompeii of the Roman Empire. According to their theory, the manufacturers of the vase had used sticks to make carvings on the clay corresponding to the vibrations of musical sounds. The playback of the “decoration” revealed a man’s voice speaking Latin and laughing.

But be they ancient or more contemporary, all of these recordings work by the same principle—even today.

How Recordings Work

A round disc is engraved with concentric spiral grooves. Usually they start from the outskirts of the surface and finish close to its center. The last spiral forms a closed circle, and that is where the music stops.

The sound is hidden in the super-fine carvings made on the edges of the grooves. A stylus usually made of steel or sapphire “reads” the carvings and sends the sound to a horn or, as is true later in history, to an amplifier.

In 1887, Emile Berliner, a German immigrant to the U.S., changed the Edison cylinder into a flat disc, thus giving birth to today’s phonograph or gramophone record. He registered the patent for the gramophone.

Berliner’s disc found firm footing in the market due to its ease of manufacture and portability.

Numerous formats, rotation speeds, and materials for the phonograph record were explored, but in the end, the 78 rpm (revolutions per minute) version won recognition and became the standard—for awhile, anyway.

In 1948, the Hungarian engineer Peter Goldmark, who worked for Columbia Records, made a great breakthrough with his long-playing (known today as the LP) microgroove 12" vinyl record with 33 1/3 rpm, made of the artificial material polyvinyl chloride.

The LP could play 25 minutes on each side and was much more durable than its shellac (natural resin) predecessor. The vinyl was smaller and thinner in size but provided the means for longer playing times: shellac records had only 80-100 groove walls per inch, while the new vinyl could have as many as 260 groove walls per inch. The background noise was also significantly reduced.

While the 78 rpm record was on its way out, another standard was making its way on the scene: the 45 rpm vinyl. The 45 was most popular during the 1960’s in the United Kingdom. Millions of records were sold as the Beatles were among those to produce their music on such vinyl. This record was smaller in size and turned out to be very attractive for promoting hit singles.

CD or LP, Which is Better?

Despite the introduction of the CD (compact disc) in the mid 1980’s, many collectors and audiophiles say the vinyl still produces the richest and most pleasant sound of all music carriers known so far.

Actually, the CD works by exactly the same principle as the vinyl record, with the main difference being that the sound on the CD is digitized, while the vinyl record reproduces analog tones.

It is precisely in the analog sound that the secret of the vinyl record’s superior tonality lies. Why? Because sound is analog by nature. In order for sound to become digitized, some of its components have to be cut: The usual CD recording takes 44,100 snapshots in a second. Then these snapshots are transformed into digits with a precision of 16 bits. Thus digital recording cannot capture the whole range of sound there is.

Conversely, with the vinyl record, while relaying music to the amplifier, no “data” is lost as there is no need for the sound to be converted into anything else. It is heard as it is performed.

Over time, however, the precision of conversion from analog to digital music is becoming more and more sophisticated, as modern players are able to play a far greater number of snapshots per second (as many as 192,000), which makes for a precision of 24 bits.

This, together with the recent resurgence of vinyl sales, shows us that we are heading back to the basics and to what is referred to as the original sound of nature.

However fine the modern devices may be, they still fail to imitate perfectly the infinitely rich and complicated sound of life. And for now, it seems the truth is still in the groove.


REPRINTED BY PERMISSION ~ Copyright © 2000–2009 The Epoch Times

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Music News & Notes

We Knew It Was Coming!

In a new move the music industry, Island Def Jam Music Group will start featuring advertising in future releases as a way to combat money lost from declining record sales.

The first deal, created for the Mariah Carey release "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" on Sept. 15, is a 34-page co-production with Elle magazine that includes lifestyle ads from Elizabeth Arden, Angel Champagne, Carmen Steffens, Le Métier de Beauté and the Bahamas Board of Tourism.

The mini magazine contains Mariah-centric editorial (“VIP Access to Her Sexy Love Life,” “Amazing Closet,” “Recording Rituals”) and lifestyle advertising along with lyrics and other CD booklet elements. Elle contributed the editorial and designed the layout.

The booklets were created for the first run of U.S. CDs (1 million) and the first 500,000 overseas.

“We don’t have music retailers any more, so a smart consumer products company that understands the value in distributing music is going to restore the vitality of our business,” Reid speculated. “If we distribute music properly and if it’s done tastefully, it could be a huge profit center for all of us. That is the missing link—we need partnerships.”


Epica Completes New Album, "Design Your Universe," and Reveals Cover Art

Dutch symphonic metal band, Epica, has issued the following update:

"Last week we have finished the mixing and mastering of our new album 'Design Your Universe' in the Gate-Studio. We are very pleased with the result!"

"The artwork has also been finished, so here it is: The official cover for 'Design Your Universe'"


Red Hot Music Again?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have tentatively scheduled October ‘09 to reconvene after a two-year hiatus since their tour for 2005’s Stadium Arcadium, drummer Chad Smith told Billboard:

“It’ll be two years in September, so now we’re ready,” Smith, who is currently drumming for Chickenfoot, said of the hiatus. While Flea and guitarist John Frusciante will probably bring some musical ideas, the band expects to carve out songs through jamming and improvising.

"That's the plan. Everybody was like, 'Y'know, I really like having this time off, not being a Chili Pepper and doing other things...It'll be two years in September, so now we're ready. You can't force people to play when they don't want to play or aren't ready to play or whatever -- not in our band, anyway."


White Wizzard Recording Yet To Be Titled New Album

Earache Records announced today that White Wizzard has entered the studio to record their first full-length album.

White Wizzard bassist and founding member Jon Leon comments:

"We are headed to Phoenix, Arizona to begin recording our full-length album with producer Ralph "Talladega" Patlan. He earned the nickname Talladega (from the American raceway) from Dave Mustaine of Megadeth when they worked together. He lives up to the name... Ralph is a quick, efficient producer with a great ear and one of the best in the world for recording rock and metal. He has worked with UFO, Michael Schenker and Megadeth to name a few. We will track at his personal studio, "Skimo Studios" in Phoenix and then mix at the legendary Prairie Sun Recording in Northern California, where many huge albums in the last 30 years were cut.

"We will post some updates from the studio and we will be filming the entire process. Hoping to have this out early 2010 on Earache Records worldwide and then tour like mad to support it. Should be a great year... Until then, thanks for supporting White Wizzard!!"


Devendra Banhart Confirms New Album, New Label

The ever-interesting folk-hippy Devendra Banhart will release his next album, What Will We Be, this October; the new collection of songs is the singer-songwriter’s seventh, but first release with Warner Bros., who lured him away from indie label XL Recordings.

What Will We Be is the follow-up to 2007’s Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. The fourteen-track album was co-produced by Banhart and Band Of Bees’ Paul Butler.


Interesting and Silly

Go retro and experience the warm, rich sound of LPs

By PRESTON JONES / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Times are tough for traditional media. Yet against all odds, a cumbersome, fussy and pricey method of consuming recorded music isn't just surviving – it's thriving.

Vinyl LPs, as has been breathlessly touted for months, are surprisingly resurgent in the midst of this analog twilight and the ascent of portable, digital technology.

Looking at the most complete data available, for 2008, the sales of vinyl LPs jumped an eye-popping 89 percent, from 990,000 units to 1.88 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan's year-end report.

The top-selling LP of 2008 was Radiohead's In Rainbows, which moved more than 25,000 copies. Nothing to sneeze at but, by comparison, the top-selling nonvinyl album of the year, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, sold nearly 3 million.

LPs were less than 1 percent of the year's total music sales, but they nevertheless offer a flicker of hope – or a brief delay of the inevitable – for an industry that has seen nothing but bad news for years. Indeed, according to Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl LP sales are on course to top out at a record-setting 2.8 million units in 2009, a 50 percent increase from 2008's total.

"People are truly embracing the warmth of the sound," says Chris Penn, manager of Dallas' Good Records.

Read The Rest Here:

Vinyl Collective Top 10 Sales of the past week

Stop by for some great collectible vinyl!

1 JOEY CAPE / MIKE HALE “Under the Influence Vol 11″ 7″ brown vinyl 148 copies

2 O PIONEERS!!!/NEW BRUISES “Under the Influence Vol 10″ 7″ white vinyl 117 copies

3 KEVIN SECONDS / KEPI GHOULIE “Under the Influence Vol 12″ 7″ white vinyl 96 copies

4 HEAVY HEAVY LOW LOW “Turtle Nipple…” LP brown/pink 60 copies

5 O PIONEERS!!! “Limp Bizkit covering Limp Bizkit” 7″ white cover VC exclusive 50 copies

6 JOEY CAPE / MIKE HALE “Under the Influence Vol 11″ 7″ yellow/gold vinyl 44 copies

7 PORTUGAL THE MAN “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” LP light blue vinyl 41 copies

8 O PIONEERS!!! “Limp Bizkit covering Limp Bizkit” 7″ brown cover 40 copies

9 O PIONEERS!!!/NEW BRUISES “Under the Influence Vol 10″ 7″ translucent blue vinyl 28 copies

10 KEVIN SECONDS / KEPI GHOULIE “Under the Influence Vol 12″ 7″ red vinyl 25 copies

10 PORTUGAL THE MAN The Satanic Satanist LP red/orange 25 copies

10 O PIONEERS!!!/NEW BRUISES “Under the Influence Vol 10″ 7″ set of both colors 25 copies

10 JOEY CAPE / MIKE HALE “Under the Influence Vol 11″ 7″ set of both colors 25 copies

10 KEVIN SECONDS / KEPI GHOULIE “Under the Influence Vol 12″ 7″ set of both colors 25 copies