A wide range of sound recordings come to SMPL for digitization. Recently two disc recordings from the Archive of Recorded Sound’s Non-Commercial disc collection (ARS 0033) appeared in our queue: 6” duo disc blanks likely dating from the late 1940’s into the early 1950’s with recordings on one side. The discs appear to be have been recorded by a service called Santa Gram that sold semi-custom recorded greetings from Santa to children.
Staff at the Archive of Recorded Sound recently came across a particularly unusual item while unboxing and sorting the Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls, part of the recently announced Player Piano Project here at Stanford.
This small roll, just 4.5 inches wide, was found among approximately 7500 of its larger brothers and sisters - the reproducing piano rolls that make up the Condon Collection. Following further research, it was discovered that this roll was designed for a toy, a type of player saxophone called the Playasax, produced by Q.R.S. Q.R.S are in fact the only surviving piano roll company still in existence today.
To correspond with the Triple CCRMALite concert and symposium this weekend (Oct 26-27, 2014), the Archive of Recorded Sound and Stanford Media Preservation Lab recently worked to digitized and make available a number of historic performances from Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. These recordings, from the CCRMA Tape Archive (ARS.0037), are now available to stream via the Triple CCRMALite website.
In support of a major initiative to bring attention to the study of roll playing musical instruments, the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound and Department of Music have acquired the Denis Condon Collection of Reproducing Pianos and Rolls, a collection of over 7500 rolls and ten players. The Condon Collection has long been known as one of the most important collections of reproducing pianos and piano rolls in private hands. Leading figures in the field of rolls and players are working along with Stanford faculty and staff on the project. The initiative will include roll preservation through scanning and digitization, restoration of instruments for playback, item level cataloging to allow for content discovery, and research into under-represented or rare systems and rolls. Plans for the collection include making streaming audio files of the recordings available to the public at large.
While often at the Stanford Media Preservation Lab we work with sound recordings Stanford acquired long ago sometimes we have the opportunity to work on media freshly acquired on the premise of immediately serving faculty and students. Recently a case like this occurred.
The Stanford Media Preservation Lab has kicked around the idea of building a dedicated Digital Audio Tape (DAT) "ripping" workstation around a Digital Data Storage (DDS) drive for a few years, but we never pursued it in earnest. We assumed the benefits of using a computer drive to read audio DATs largely centered around extraction time and reporting. Transferring a DAT in a conventional deck is done in real-time, whereas a DDS drive, we were told, would rougly cut the time in half depending on the speed of the drive (Peter Oleksik's retrospective on the Fugazi archive mentioned speeds up to 4x real-time using the DDS method with a Sony SDT-9000 drive and DATXtract). We also liked the idea of accompanying logs identifying where dropouts occurred. Still, we were skeptical whether such a system would be better than one designed around multiple conventional decks. Was there a way to test both methods without investing a bunch of money in late 1990s computer components?
The Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) recently took an active role in two courses during the spring semester, one in the Stanford Music Department and the other in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, to encourage students to deposit their final projects into the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). The purpose of working with these courses was primarily to introduce students to the SDR and its many benefits, and to walk them through the process of using the SDR's self-deposit tool. This instruction was backed up by customized online screencasts that guided students through the deposit process for the particular sets of materials within their projects. The rate of deposit for both courses was extremely high as the professors in each case elected to make the deposit of final projects into the SDR a mandatory part of the courses' requirements.
The Archive of Recorded Sound is delighted to announce that the Richard Maxfield Collection (ARS.0074) can now be listened to online, via the collection's finding aid on the Online Archive of California. This collection features nine distinct works by electronic music composer Richard Maxfield, composed between 1959-1964, four of which are believed to be previously unpublished (Dromenom, Electronic Symphony, Suite from Peripateia, and Wind). Additionally, as Maxfield frequently produced unique edits of his work for each performance, many of the open tape reels that form this collection include alternative edits to those previously published, such as the tapes for Amazing Grace which feature three different versions of the work.