The Voice of Ella Fitzgerald

Photo of Ella Fitzgerald

 

About Ella Fitzgerald

Ella was born on April 25, 1917 and lived with her mother throughout most of her childhood. When she was in her early teens, her mother died of injuries sustained in a car accident and shortly after that her stepfather died from heart failure. After this she was sent to go live with her aunt. She was unhappy with living there and she began skipping school. She got a job as a runner for local gamblers and was later arrested for this. She spent some time in jail and then was sent to a reform school after she was released. When she was about fifteen, she broke out of the reform school because she couldn’t bear living there anymore. At this point it was the middle of the Great Depression and she was broke and homeless. In 1934, her name was pulled in a drawing to compete at “amateur night” at a local club. She originally wanted to dance but instead decided to sing last minute. After she realized that people loved to hear her voice, she began singing at every public opportunity she could find. Eventually she was discovered at a club by Chick Webb, a bandleader who saw potential in her. He reformed his entire band to center around Ella, and this is when her career began to take off.

 

Her Vocal Style

Ella’s vocal style is very light and girlish. She had a four octave range and was very good at vocal improvisation and scatting. She also had excellent breath support so her voice did have power behind it. Her normal singing voice had a very pure quality to it, but she would also shift her voice, and scream sometimes when singing as well. She also used a technique which is now called “glottal compression” which is where the air supported by the diaphragm is compressed in the vocal cords with the soft palate in the back of the mouth raised, maximizing air flow. Because the air is being compressed in a controlled way, it is a good way to deliver harsh vocals in a safer way. This is a technique used for screaming and growling in today’s music. Ella was one of the first well known female vocalists to start using this technique. Her singing style has been described as performing “vocal acrobatics.” Below is a quote from her explaining her style.

“A lot of singers think all they have to do is exercise their tonsils to get ahead. They refuse to look for new ideas and new outlets, so they fall by the wayside… I’m going to try to find out the new ideas before the others do.”

-Ella Fitzgerald

 

Her First Recording

Ella’s first ever recording with Chick Webb as band leader was “Love and Kisses” and it was produced by the Decca Record Label.

I noticed with her first song, there is only singing and none of the more adventurous styles she uses.

 

Her Big Break

The song that really put her in the spotlight was a cover of a nursery rhyme called “A-Tisket-A-Tasket.”

This song demonstrated more of her range than the first one.

 

With Louis Armstrong

Here is a song that she performed with Louis Armstrong called “Learnin’ the Blues.”

In this song, her lower register is showcased.

 

Ella Fitzgerald lived a full and happy life and even continued to perform in her mid seventies. Her last performance was at Carnegie Hall in 1991, making that her twenty sixth time playing there. By then, she had recorded over 200 albums and had created a legacy. She was known for her extremely positive attitude despite all of the loss she had experienced as a child.

“I guess what everyone wants more than anything else is to be loved. And to know that you loved me for my singing is too much for me. Forgive me if I don’t have all the words. Maybe I can sing it and you’ll understand.”

-Ella Fitzgerald

 

 

Sources:

“The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald.” The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

“Jazz: Essential Listening Paperback – December 22, 2010.” Jazz: Essential Listening: Scott DeVeaux, Gary Giddins: 9780393935639: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Armstrong (Jazz History)

Hello Dolly By Louis Armstrong

 

Life History:

  • He was born in 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Not much is known about his childhood because he enjoyed telling multiple stories so no one really knows the truth
  • In 1918 he married his first wife, Daisy Parker and together they adopted a three year old boy who was the son of Louis’s cousin after his cousin’s death.
  • His adopted son was mentally disabled from a head injury sustained in an accident and Louis spent the rest of his life taking care of him
  • His relationship with Daisy didn’t work out and they divorced in 1923. He later married Lil Harden in 1924.
  • He divorced Lil in 1938 and then married a woman named Alpha Smith that same year.
  • They divorced four years later in 1942.
  • Then he married Lucile Wilson, a singer at the famous Cotton Club.
  • They were together until his death in 1971.
  • He died in New York from a heart attack in his sleep in 1971 and was 69 years old.
  • He was also very concerned about his appearance and would purge the food he ate using laxatives.

 

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Louis_Armstrong_NYWTS_3.jpg

 

Music:

  • He played the trumpet, the cornet and he was a vocalist as well.
  • He style of singing was very unique, as he had a very raspy and gravely voice that was usually used in the lower register.
  • He began reading music at the age of twenty.
  • His earned the nickname of “Satchmo” which was short for “Satchel mouth” because of the size of his mouth.
  • He had a very lively stage presence and was often very fun to watch as well as listen to.
  • He made his first recordings on the Gennett and Okeh Jazz labels.
  • He recorded under his own name for the Okeh record label and recorded several hits both by himself and with his band.
  • With his own music he set the bar for new up and coming artists for years to come.
  • He is known for being one of the few African Americans in the era to be fully accepted by the white aristocrats in the Jazz community despite the segregation issues in America due to his talent.
  • With his talent he earned respect from everyone.

Short Biography of Louis Armstrong:

Sources:

DeVeaux, Scott Knowles., and Gary Giddins. Jazz: Essential Listening. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print.

“Louis Armstrong.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

 

Cello Suite

On week 10 during class we were given the opportunity to listen to Bach’s cello suite. Unfortunately I do not have the tracks that were given to us of the versions we listened to in class so I picked two other versions of Prelude 1 that I found online. The first one was played by Yo-Yo Ma, and the second one is played by Denise Djokic.

Here is the one of Yo-Yo Ma:


And here is the one of Denise Djokic:

One of the major differences I see between the two versions of the piece is that in her version, Denise plays with a more legato feel to the song where Yo-Yo Ma is a little more staccato. Not by a whole lot but it definitely stood out to me. Also in Denise’s version of the song, there is  a lot of crescendos and decrescendos and as she is playing, you can clearly tell from the expression on her face that she has become one with the instrument and the song its self.

Denise is playing in the key of G major and it doesn’t specify for Yo-Yo Ma but it sounds to me that it is either in the same key or in a slightly lower key than hers is.

Another difference that I found in the two versions is how the playing styles differ between the players themselves. Yo-Yo Ma appears to play in a more uniform and conservative way than Denise, and Denise appears to become lost in the piece and it seems like whatever she is feeling just flows out from her fingers on to the strings of that cello.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cello_Suites_%28Bach%29

Final Presention Post

For my final post for listening and analysis I have chosen to research the topic of how advancements in audio technology have improved music production and creativity. There are many contributions to this, however I have only chosen a few that really stood out to me as far as what they have contributed.

In the very beginning, recording technology was very limited. It did not use a microphone and it recorded a sound using a stylus that engraved on to a wax cylinder. The depth of the groove corresponded with the air pressure of the sound that it was picking up. This contraption was called a phonautograph. Then after the phonautograph came the phonograph and the gramophone. The phonograph did the same thing that the phonautograph could do only it could play back the audio it captured as well, something the phonautograph could not do. The gramophone did not use the wax cylinder and used shelak disks instead. All though these are very primitive ways to record and play audio to listen to today, they were a large achievement for their time. It was these inventions that got the ball rolling when it came to making technology for audio.

Phonautograph:

Phonograph:

Gramophone:

Here is a video of a gramophone from the 20s playing back a 78 record:

The quality of the recording is very scratchy.

Another advancement in this industry is the use of magnetic tape. This is an important one in my opinion because it was the first medium to be used in multitrack recording. The recording head could be split in half, thus allowing for two separate tracks instead of just one mono track, and because of this discovery, that is how audio engineers began using the stereo field in their work. Two separate channels could be heard on the left and right side of the speakers. Also because the tape head is using the same medium, there is no delay from either side and the two sides will play back together in sync. I believe this to be a major milestone because now music was being designed to be heard the way we are supposed to hear it naturally– two tracks, one for a left side and right side, one for each ear on the human head.

This is what a stereo recording head looks like:

(This one is a portable one that was sold to the average consumer that wanted to record something.)

Here is one that was most likely used in a professional audio studio:

The transition from analog to digital was also an important step in the advancement of audio technology. By the 1990s, it became standard to use Alesis Digital Audio Tape, or better known as an ADAT. The ADAT was a device that could record up to eight tracks of audio at once or separately, so the layering of tracks was possible. This was not the first piece of technology to do this but the way I see it, it opened the doors for more tracks that were recorded digitally to be recorded at once, and it became the most popular method for the recording industry to use for its time. The medium it used to record on to was still tape, but it recorded digitally on to the tape, and the recordings could later be stored on to a computer as digital data. Theoretically if you had enough ADAT machines, you could have as many tracks as you wanted, an unlimited number of tracks.

Here is a picture of two ADAT machines working together, capable of recording up to sixteen tracks:

The progress in audio technology has been huge since its birth with the invention of the phonautograph, but I believe the biggest achievement in the recording industry has to be the invention of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). This completely omitted using tape and used nothing but digital data that was stored on the computer, and with the way modern DAWs work today, any random person could make a decent sounding recording of anything they wanted to. They could have a multitrack music project recording in their basement with out the use of a muli million dollar studio. All they needed was a computer that was fast enough, a DAW program such as Pro Tools, and some form of audio interface, at the bare minimum the sound card in their computer. This is great for underground and emerging artists that can’t afford to record in a studio because of the financial costs involved. They can still get their music recorded, and they can mix it themselves as well. There is really no limit on what they can do with their equipment as long as the have decent enough hardware. You can have an unlimited number of tracks in one session. This definitely brought audio technology to the next level, both for the engineer and the artist.

Here are some examples of DAW programs:

Pro Tools:

(Pro Tools is the audio industry standard that is used today. It is a highly versatile program.)

GarageBand:

(This program is not as intricate as Pro Tools but it is very user friendly and comes pre loaded on most Mac computers, making it available for pretty much anyone, even if they don’t really have a desire to record anything.)

Cubase:

(This is an older version of Cubase.)

One example of an artist who really makes great use of the multitrack capabilities of a DAW program is a Chicago based band called Russian Circles. They only have three members; a guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer. They don’t even have a vocalist. But with the sound they achieve through looping tracks and playing over the loops with different parts recorded at a different time, they sound much bigger than they actually are. They usually have at least three guitar tracks playing at any given time in their songs and the bass has dual parts going at once as well. Sometimes even the drums have more than one track being played at once as well.

Here is a video of Russian Circles demonstrating their sound achieved by modern DAWs:

Music technology today really has come a long way and even then, it continues to progress. I am looking forward to see what comes up in the future as far as this is concerned.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADAT

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_multitrack_recording

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_recording

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sound_recording

http://russiancirclesband.com/

 

Rite of Spring Analysis

Today in our class we were given the opportunity to listen to “The Rite of Spring” which was originally composed by a Russian composer by the name of Igor Stravinsky in 1913. In particular, we listened to the Sir George Solti version which was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and was produced in 1974 by Mecca Records.

Here is the track that we listened to:

The composition was written for a ballet of the same name. It is about a ritual that takes place during the spring time in which young girls begin dancing in an almost ritualistic way and one is selected to be the “chosen one.” The chosen one then dances to death as a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. The song is very intense and has many harsh and dissonant harmonies. At it’s premiere, when it was first introduced to the public, the audience had a very tense reaction to it. The entire audience began having angry reactions and some people began physically attacking each other. A few people even threw chairs across the room. The piece was unlike anything anyone in that time have ever heard.

Here is a picture of what the set for the ballet looked like for the opening scene:

But now, in present day, many people will arrange and perform their own interpretations of the piece. It has become a classic song that is performed by orchestras all around the world. One other version of this song that stood out to me was the version that was done by Bernstien.

Here is a video of some clips of Bernstien and his orchestra performing The Rite of Spring:

One thing that stood out to me about his version of the piece was how enthusiastic he was when he was conducting for the orchestra. He also seems to place more emphasis on some of the dissonant hits and accents those more than in the Solti version, almost highlighting them in a way. I found it interesting how in the video Bernstien compares the overall sound of this piece to “prehistoric jazz.” Its a very accurate a way to describe it. Jazz was a unique style of music that not many people had heard before when it was introduced and many considered it to be quite extreme. That was kind of the same reaction that The Rite of Spring got from its audience, and you can clearly see how extreme it is in the expressions of the musicians in the orchestra and in Bernstein. Just look at the drummer’s face as he is beating his drums with those mallets.

Bernstien also states in the video that the piece is often played by young people because of how different it sounds and how “fun” in is to play. The rhythms are definitely not standard of the usual orchestra piece.

I wonder about how future versions of this piece will be interpreted by others as in the future as well and I would like to see their perspective on how the piece should be played, both audibly and visually.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rite_of_Spring

Jazz

In Listening and Analysis we began listening to and analyzing albums that were engineered by the all time famous jazz engineer, Rudy Van Gelder. How he got in to recording audio is definitely very interesting. At first he initially wanted to pursue a career in Optometry and he even obtained a degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and worked in that field for thirteen years. However, he had always had a passion for recording sounds and he began recording local artists in his town. In 1946 Van Gelder’s father began to design a house that was to be built on a lot of land and Rudy asked him if he would be willing to put in a recording studio next to the living room and his father didn’t even hesitate to have it put in. The house then later became the logo that was stamped on album Van Gelder worked on. Here is a picture of it below:

Screen shot 2012-02-13 at 6.13.28 PM copy

Here is also what it looked like on a record Van Gelder engineered:

Index-1

Here is what the house looked like when it was finished:

Rudy Van Gelder - Hackensack, N.J

Note how the middle section of the house has a higher roof on it than the rest of the house. This is where the recording studio part of the house was located. Most of the recordings that Van Gelder is known for were made in that home studio. In his parents’ house, Van Gelder became one of the most respected jazz music engineers of all time.

One reason behind this is the fact that he had a different sound than other engineers of the time so he definitely stood out among the rest. He rarely talks about how he achieves the technical side of his sound but in a rare interview with Jazzwax he states that one reason for his sound is the fact that he was using Neumann condenser microphones while everyone else was still using RCA and Western Electric microphones.

Neumann Condenser Mic (Particularly the U47):

Lg_neumann_u47

Neumann microphones had a stronger sensitivity and an incomparable warmth to their sound so this naturally made his recordings sound richer than everyone else’s. He also was very vague in stating that his sound also had been affected by his microphone placement as well, stating that “nothing is simple and everything is complex” rather cryptically.

One jazz album that is considered the best jazz album of all time is Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. The engineer work was not done by Rudy Van Gelder though, it was done by an engineer by the name of Fred Plaut and produced by Irving Townsend. In class we had the opportunity to analyze the first track off the record, called “So What.” It is an instrumental piece with no vocals and contains a trumpet solo by Miles Davis, a tenor saxophone solo by John Coltrane, an alto sax solo by “Cannonball” Adderly, and piano by Bill Evans.

The cover of Kind of Blue:

First we listened to the original mono version of the song and then we compared it to the remastered stereo version. The stereo version definitely sounds wider and has a more full sound, but it has been over compressed so it is not as dynamic as the original. In a way it loses the intimate feel that the original had.

Here is the mono version of “So What”:

So What (1959 Mono Original)

And here is the Stereo Version:

So What (1998 Stereo Remaster)

In the stereo version the different solos are panned out across the stereo field so that you can hear them coming from different sides but it almost sounds artificial in a way. It sounds to me like it should not be that way even if it is supposed to add more depth to the track. The mono version definitely sounds more natural to me even though it isn’t stereo, which is how the human ears would naturally hear a live performance.

Sources:

http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-1.html

http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-2.html

http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-3.html

http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-4.html

http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/02/interview-rudy-van-gelder-part-5.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Davis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kind_of_Blue

Response to Jack Straw Productions

My personal opinion of our class field trip to Jack Straw Productions was that it was very intriguing. When we were sitting in that dark room with all the sounds in there coming out of the eight speakers at once, at first I was a little overwhelmed with all of the noises and melodies going on at once. When the voices were whispering it sounded almost as if the people talking were actually there and their whispering voices coupled with the sounds of the flies or wasps buzzing around the speaker setup, actually started to make me feel a little unsettled.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/c0.21.851.315/p851x315/883427_10151490030751182_1947487006_o.jpg

Then it changes from this dark and creepy tone with the buzzing and whispering voices to a soft and melodic experience with a woman singing in a bright operatic tone with the sound of a creek or a stream softly flowing in the background. The tone changed so many different times in the short time that we were in there.

I believe it was a good idea to black out the room and have the only light source be a small cluster of battery operated candles sitting on top of each speaker. The candles set the mood of the room, which I thought those were clever to add because the sounds that we were listening to had been recorded in a chapel in Portugal. It gave a very peaceful and serene mood to the overall listening experience. It also forced the listener to pay more attention to what they were hearing versus what they are looking at. Our ears were more attuned to the surround experience of the eight speakers that were positioned all around us.

After this I began to do a little research on other sound artists and the different pieces they create. One installation that deeply interested me was a piece called the “HyperCube” designed by light artist Jaap van den Elzen and sound artist Augusto Meijer, both originating from Germany. Here is a series of photos of the inside of the HyperCube:

https://i2.wp.com/www.jaapvandenelzen.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/HyperCube-04-542x304.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/www.enlightermagazine.com/images/2012/11/HyperCube-06.jpg

The lights on the inside of it also go through a series of flashes and color changes as well:

https://i2.wp.com/www.jaapvandenelzen.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/HyperCube-02.jpg

https://i2.wp.com/www.enlightermagazine.com/images/2012/11/HyperCube-05.jpg

 

It is a sound art installation that also involves using LED strips and mirrors to add to the sensory experience of the viewer/listener. Many have described this piece as very overwhelming yet intriguing and once a person steps inside of the HyperCube, it appears to be infinite because of the optical illusion the mirrors and led strips create. The person my feel a sense of being trapped even though they know the cube doesn’t really go on forever, and then the LED strips begin to shimmer and flash and do different things inside the cube while a track that sounds very mechanical and with an almost scifi like sound to it is being played in the background. Voices can also be heard inside the HyperCube although what they are saying is indistinguishable. Here is an example of what it looks and sounds like inside the HyperCube.

You can almost imagine that the experience of being inside the cube can almost be bone chilling and unsettling. Some have even said that the HyperCube distorted their perception of time and space because of how big it looks and sounds on the inside and through the use of reverberation in the audio and the mirrors reflecting the LED strips, it expands the perception of how big it actually is. It is really a tiny little cubicle that is in fact very finite in its actual volume. Here is what it looks like from the outside:

https://i0.wp.com/www.enlightermagazine.com/images/2012/11/HyperCube-11.jpg

The HyperCube is a unique piece of sound art because it also uses visuals in the way it is presented which in my opinion, enhances the overall experience of the piece. Below is a 3D model of what the HyperCube would look like on the inside if the person standing inside was looking from different angles. It almost sounds like it is synced up with the way the person would be viewing the cube.

After learning of this piece I think I will continue to find other audio/visual installations and maybe look in to more of Jaap van den Elzen’s and Augusto Meijir’s work.

Sources:

http://www.everydaylistening.com/

http://www.jaapvandenelzen.nl/portfolio/hypercube

http://hypercube-oddstream.tumblr.com/

 

 

Rob Millis Response

I was very excited to come in to class on week 2 when Rob Millis came in. Before hand I hadn’t really listened to a lot of vinyl records, let alone some of the obscure old 78s that he brought in. When we were listening to them it was almost as if I was transported back in time for the three or four minutes that the song was playing. The fact that the records sounded very raw almost gave them a more realistic feeling as opposed to the mass produced multitrack recordings that are produced today.

One recording that I found very interesting was the first recording from Japan that he played. It sounded so scratchy and not all of the instruments were picked up very well, but if you closed your eyes it felt as if a little piece of 1902 was brought back and that you were reliving that moment that the performers were. The stringed instrument (I think it was called a shami sen) was very shrill and was picked up easily by the microphone, yet it wasn’t abrasive to me. I really liked the sound of it. It was so realistic that I felt like I was there observing the recording. I almost want to try to go find more recordings of this type of music in old 78 rpm format.

Another thing that I found interesting that Rob brought in was the portable mini gramophone that he played the “Laughing Song” on. Here is a picture that I took of it:

IMG_0994

I thought it was interesting how it had to be put back together every time it needed to be used. It also had a surprisingly clear sound for something that small as well, despite the fact the horn was shaped very flat so that it could be compacted in to the small box it came in.

Song Analysis

For the song analysis for a contemporary song I chose to do the song “Mladek” by the instrumental metal group Russian Circles. It is the second track off of their forth studio album, Empros which was released on October 25, 2011. I saw them open for another band that I went to go see and really liked what I heard. Here is a link to the song:

Musically the song is very repetitive, as it uses the same guitar part over and over yet the instruments around the guitar change drastically from the beginning which starts out very ambient and peaceful and then more layers of instruments are added on such as drums which come in sounding very upbeat and the tempo speeds up. Then more layers of guitar are added and the tempo will vary in speed at different parts of the song. Then the timbre of the secondary guitar changes in to a very dark tone with the first guitar staying constant playing the same repetitive part from the beginning. This is very contrasting because the first guitar part is very happy and relaxing and then the other part almost adds a feeling of doom to the rest of the song. Then as this is happening the drummer is playing significantly harder than he was before. Then the song gets very intense, and both guitar parts are played very fast and dark and the drums are very harsh and then the song ends abruptly.

Russian Circles recorded this song in multiple layers for all the instruments as they are only a three piece band with only one guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. However there are at least three guitar parts going at once in the recording and they do this live as well. They achieve this with pre recorded samples, multifunction effects pedals and loop pedals.

I also found it interesting that all through out their set during the time that I saw them, they never stopped to take a break and talk to the audience, they just played a continuous flow of a mix of songs from their multiple albums. They were very energetic with their playing and because there was no break in between songs, it was almost as if the flow of energy coursing through the room was so strong that it could literally be felt and the audience was almost put in to a trance like state.

Here is a live recording of the band playing “Mladek” in a live setting in Singapore. The footage was edited with a variety of creative camera angles and shows how their audience reacts to them in a live setting.

To me it was intriguing  that despite how simple the band is, with just one physical guitar, a bass guitar, and a drummer, they can be as complex with their sound and their music that they actually are.

Recently they have released a new album, titled “Memorial.” I still have yet to hear it and I wonder if they used the same approach as they did in the past few albums they have done.

Russian Circles is Mike Sullivan (on the right in the picture below), who does all the guitars and the layering of the guitar work, Dave Turncrantz (left)  the drummer, and Brian Cook (center) who plays the bass and the keyboard. The song “Mladek” is more guitar driven and has less keyboard in it but an ambient synth pad can still be heard in the background. The band is from Chicago, Illinois, with Cook’s origins being from Tacoma, Washington.

https://i1.wp.com/houselist.bowerypresents.com/files/2011/11/russian-circles.jpg

Their musical influences are Pink Floyd with just a hint of a little of Metallica’s sound in there as well. Also a couple tracks off of Empros have been compared to the earlier sound of metal band Celtic Frost as well. On one song, the final track on Empros called “Praise Be Man,” Brian Cook is actually singing despite the band being for the most part instrumental. Sullivan stated in an interview with guitar world that he could possibly see more vocal tracks in the future for the band but that it wouldn’t be something they would do all the time as they all still wanted it to be an instrumental band.

Here is the album cover of Empros:

https://i2.wp.com/d3na4zxidw1hr4.cloudfront.net/site_media/uploads/images/review/r/russian-circles/russian_circles-empros_jpg_300x300_crop-smart_q85.jpg

Sources:

http://russiancircles.tumblr.com/bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Circles

http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-mike-sullivan-russian-circles-talks-about-bands-new-album-empros

Recording History Timeline

Its crazy when we think about how far audio recording technology has come since it was first invented in 1857. It has literally been around for less than two hundred years but it has come a long way since then. In 1857 the phonautograph was created which is a device that captured sound by using a needle that etched the vibrations from the sound wave in to a piece of soot covered paper however, it was not able to play anything back. It only recorded a graph of the sound that it captured. It was also a very cumbersome machine. Here is a picture of what the phonoautograph looked like:

http://bluejayblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/phonoautograph-476633.jpg?w=640

Then in 1878, Thomas Edison added to the phonautograph invention and called it the phonograph. His version of the machine could actually play back the sample of the audio that was being recorded. It did this by etching grooves on a wax covered cylinder with a stylus and their depth corresponded to the pressure of the wave. The device played back the audio by tracing a needle through the groove and amplifying it though a funnel shaped piece of metal. One drawback of the phonograph was that the cylinders were difficult to mass produce so it became impractical. Then the gramophone was invented, which basically did the same thing as the phonograph but instead of using a cylinder, it used a vinyl disk, which were way easier to make and distribute.

Phonograph:

https://i0.wp.com/wpcontent.answcdn.com/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a0/EdisonPhonograph.jpg/230px-EdisonPhonograph.jpg

Gramophone:

https://i1.wp.com/historyday.crf-usa.org/1703/images/gramophone.jpg

Here is a video of how the Gramophone functions and what it sounds like playing something back:

In the late 1930s, people began using electric microphones to record sounds and it was though this method that overdubbing was developed. A performance would be recorded and then played back with a second version of the performance recorded over it. However overdubbing was very limited until people began using magnetic tape to record on to. The microphones worked off of the moving coil principle by using a piece of thin metal ribbon that is “placed between the poles of a magnet to generate voltages by electromagnetic induction.” Here is a picture of what some of the earlier electric microphones looked like:

https://i0.wp.com/i671.photobucket.com/albums/vv76/CorrinaLaw/1199679274_509351721b.jpg

One major point in the history of recording is when the industry started using magnetic tape to use for a recording medium. This made the process of overdubbing more efficient and the quality of the audio that the tape produced sounded much more clean and clear compared to previous techniques that were used. Then shortly after this came multitrack recording which still used tape, but more tracks could be recorded parallel to each other at the same time. This is what introduced the stereo field in to audio which is how we know it today, as opposed to mono.

Magnetic Tape deck:

https://i2.wp.com/www.digitaldeliftp.com/Images/pings/tascam-1.png

Here is a brief history and demonstration on the reel to reel tape machine:

One audio engineer that had become very well know during this time period was Tom Dowd. He is mainly known for innovating the multitrack recording method. He engineered and produced many different genres ranging from rock, to soul, and everything in between. Dowd collaborated with musical geniuses such as The Allman Brothers Band, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton and many more in helping them produce their albums. He is also credited for popularizing the use of stereophonic sound engineering, meaning that there is a left and right field between two speakers, just like we have two ears, and this significantly added more width to the mix.

Tom Dowd:

https://i1.wp.com/images.gibson.com.s3.amazonaws.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Firebird/Gibson-USA/Firebird-X/TomDowd_t.jpg

Here he is talking about his method of recording using a song that he produced as an example:

Then engineers began recoding audio digitally, the way that we know it today. First they used Digital Audio Tape (DAT) as a medium, not to be confused with magnetic tape. The leading manufacturer of this method was Alesis and they developed a standard called Alesis Digital Audio Tape (ADAT). It used an ADAT recording machine to record eight tracks of audio on to a single super VHS tape that would then be put in to a VCR for playback

ADAT Recorder:

https://i2.wp.com/www.videointerchange.com/images/alesis-adat.jpg

Super VHS Tape:

https://i1.wp.com/simplydv.biz/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/VHS-S-VHS-S-VHS-C-comp-650.jpg

Then they began producing the recordings in the format of an audio CD which involved using a laser to read the digital data encoded on the disc. Then audio file compression came in to existence and the files could be converted from a CD in to a smaller file such as an MP3 and put on a device such as a portable music player such as an iPod or another computer. This method however drastically compressed the files that were converted in to MP3 file type and despite the fact that they sound good to most people, they are actually missing a good portion of the data that made up the original file. This is now the standard of the music industry today. Now music is beginning to be engineered with the purpose of it later being turned in to an MP3 file and sold as downloadable content on sites such as iTunes, Zune Marketplace, and Amazon MP3.

Audio CD:

https://i2.wp.com/www.techsupportalert.com/files/images/CDDA.jpg

MP3 Player (iPod):

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.cultofmac.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ipodnanos.jpg

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADAT

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_microphone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_sound_recording

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Dowd