Revolutions in sound recording
Revolutions in sound recording

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Revolutions in sound recording

4 Unit summary

Sound recording really took off once the public's demand for recorded music had been acknowledged. The choice of technology, cylinder or disc, was determined more by the selection of the artist and material than the quality of the sound. Development of disc technology was slow due to the lack of better alternatives, remaining substantially unchanged for over fifty years. The development of radio broadcasting caused a slump in the record industry but eventually it not only provided improvements in recording technology, by replacing acoustic recording with electrical methods, but also became a shop window for records. Once perfected, magnetic tape offered a superior sound quality to 78 rpm records and spurred the record industry into developing the long-play vinyl disc, which improved the quality of sound and, most importantly, increased the playing time. Difficulties in operating conventional tape recorders led to the development of the compact cassette, sales of which overtook LPs once the sound quality had been improved by the Dolby B noise-reduction system.

Then I never did care for music much – It's the High Fidelity!

Flanders, M. and Swann, D. (1977) ‘The Song of Reproduction’ from The Songs of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, London, Elm Tree Books and St George's Press, p. 99

Activity 25

To round off this unit on the history of sound reproduction on a lighter note, listen to the audio track below. This is the complete version of ‘The Song of Reproduction’ by Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and Donald Swann (1923–1994), performed by the composers in a live recording from the late 1950s of their popular At the Drop of a Hat comedy show.

Click below (2 minutes 39 seconds)

Download this audio clip.Audio player: ta212_3_007s.mp3
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