At a glance

Archive of Recorded Sound

Player Piano Project

Watch the video below for an introduction to the Player Piano Project. More details can be found on the project's website.

Archive news

“So, it’s the original karaoke machine?”

A recent visitor on a tour to the Archive of Recorded Sound made this comment to me as I showed off the roll I was cataloging. On plain beige paper, at first it looked like a regular piano roll. A label at the beginning. Expression and performance data perforations appeared as I unrolled the roll. Then, at the side: words! You can imagine gathering around the piano to sing along with a group of friends at a party, just as Stanford undergrads may have done at the Stanford Student Union in 1915 or Encina Commons in 1926.

During recent processing of the Paul F. Roth American Dance Band Collection, staff at the Archive of Recorded Sound uncovered an rare recording featuring the American actress and singer, Ethel Merman.

A close of open reel tape machine heads

There are countless challenges in preserving obsolete media from breadth of formats to lack of documentation at the time of creation.  With the history of recorded sound now spanning over one hundred years wide range of technologies utilized in this span, challenges abound for any individual working to capture the range of media in need of preservation.  To accomplish this feat constant engagement is required to further understand the media, the way media is degrading, and best practices for preserving historic recordings that range from cylinders to digital multi-track recording sessions.