Dienstag, 14. Juli 2015

The historic way to the "78 rpm"

Quote from "Gramophone_record" by www.en.wikipedia.org:

The earliest disc records (1889–1894) were made of various materials including hard rubber. Around 1895, a shellac-based compound was introduced and became standard. Exact formulas for this compound varied by manufacturer and over the course of time, but it was typically composed of about one-third shellac and about two-thirds mineral filler, which meant finely pulverized rock, usually slate and limestone, with an admixture of cotton fibers to add tensile strength, carbon black for color (without this, it tended to be a "dirty" gray or brown color that most record companies considered unattractive), and a very small amount of a lubricant to facilitate mold release during manufacture. Some makers, notably Columbia Records, used a laminated construction with a core disc of coarser material or fiber. The production of shellac records continued until the end of the 78 rpm format (i.e., the late 1950s in most developed countries, but well into the 1960s in some other places), but increasingly less abrasive formulations were used during its declining years and very late examples in truly like-new condition can have as low noise levels as vinyl.

Flexible or so-called "unbreakable" records made of unusual materials were introduced by a number of manufacturers at various times during the 78 rpm era. In the UK, Nicole records, made of celluloid or a similar substance coated onto a cardboard core disc, were produced for a few years beginning in 1904, but they suffered from an exceptionally high level of surface noise. In the United States, Columbia Records introduced flexible, fiber-cored "Marconi Velvet Tone Record" pressings in 1907, but the advantages and longevity of their relatively noiseless surfaces depended on the scrupulous use of special gold-plated Marconi Needles and the product was not a success. Thin, flexible plastic records such as the German Phonycord and the British Filmophone and Goodson records appeared around 1930 but also did not last long. The contemporary French Pathé Cellodiscs, made of a very thin black plastic, which uncannily resembles the vinyl "sound sheet" magazine inserts of the 1965–1985 era, were similarly short-lived. In the US, Hit of the Week records, made of a patented translucent plastic called Durium coated on a heavy brown paper base, were introduced in early 1930. A new issue came out every week and they were sold at newsstands like a weekly magazine. Although inexpensive and commercially successful at first, they soon fell victim to the Great Depression and production in the US ended in 1932. Related Durium records continued to be made somewhat later in the UK and elsewhere, and as remarkably late as 1950 in Italy, where the name "Durium" survived far into the LP era as a trademark on ordinary vinyl records. Despite all these attempts at innovation, shellac compounds continued to be used for the overwhelming majority of commercial 78 rpm records during the lifetime of the format.

In 1931, RCA Victor introduced their vinyl-based Victrolac compound as a material for some unusual-format and special-purpose records. By the end of the 1930s vinyl's advantages of light weight, relative unbreakability and low surface noise had made it the material of choice for prerecorded radio programming and other critical applications. When it came to ordinary 78 rpm records, however, the much higher cost of the raw material, as well as its vulnerability to the heavy pickups and crudely mass-produced steel needles still commonly used in home record players, made its general substitution for shellac impractical at that time. During the Second World War, the United States Armed Forces produced thousands of 12-inch vinyl 78 rpm V-Discs for use by the troops overseas. After the war, the wider use of vinyl became more practical as new record players with relatively lightweight crystal pickups and precision-ground styli made of sapphire or an exotic osmium alloy proliferated. In late 1945, RCA Victor began offering special transparent red vinyl De Luxe pressings of some classical 78s, at a de luxe price. Later, Decca Records introduced vinyl Deccalite 78s, while other record companies came up with vinyl concoctions such as Metrolite, Merco Plastic and Sav-o-flex, but these were mainly used to produce "unbreakable" children's records and special thin vinyl DJ pressings for shipment to radio stations.

78 rpm disc size
In the 1890s, the recording formats of the earliest (toy) discs were mainly 12.5 cm (nominally five inches) in diameter; by the mid-1890s, the discs were usually 7 in (nominally 17.5 cm) in diameter. By 1910 the 10-inch (25.4 cm) record was by far the most popular standard, holding about three minutes of music or other entertainment on a side. From 1903 onwards, 12-inch records (30.5 cm) were also sold commercially, mostly of classical music or operatic selections, with four to five minutes of music per side. Victor, Brunswick and Columbia also issued 12-inch popular medleys, usually spotlighting a Broadway show score. However, other sizes did appear. Eight-inch discs with a 2-inch-diameter (51 mm) label became popular for about a decade in Britain, but they cannot be played in full on most modern record players because the tone arm cannot play far enough in toward the center without modification of the equipment.

78 rpm recording time
The playing time of a phonograph record depended on the turntable speed and the groove spacing. At the beginning of the 20th century, the early discs played for two minutes, the same as early cylinder records. The 12-inch disc, introduced by Victor in 1903, increased the playing time to three and a half minutes. Because a 10-inch 78 rpm record could hold about three minutes of sound per side and the 10-inch size was the standard size for popular music, almost all popular recordings were limited to around three minutes in length.

For example, when King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, including Louis Armstrong on his first recordings, recorded 13 sides at Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana, in 1923, one side was 2:09 and four sides were 2:52.

By 1938, when Milt Gabler started recording on January 17 for his new label, Commodore Records, to allow longer continuous performances, he recorded some 12-inch records. Eddie Condon explained: "Gabler realized that a jam session needs room for development." The first two 12-inch recordings did not take advantage of the extra length: "Carnegie Drag" was 3:15; "Carnegie Jump", 2:41. But at the second session, on April 30, the two 12-inch recordings were longer: "Embraceable You" was 4:05; "Serenade to a Shylock", 4:32.

Another way around the time limitation was to issue a selection on both sides of a single record. Vaudeville stars Gallagher and Shean recorded "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean", written by Irving and Jack Kaufman, as two sides of a 10-inch 78 in 1922 for Cameo.

An obvious workaround for longer recordings was to release a set of records. An early multi-record release was in 1903, when HMV in England made the first complete recording of an opera, Verdi's Ernani, on 40 single-sided discs. In 1940, Commodore released Eddie Condon and his Band's recording of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" in four parts, issued on both sides of two 12-inch 78s.

This limitation on the duration of recordings persisted from 1910 until the invention of the LP record, in 1948.

In popular music, this time limitation of about 3:30 on a 10-inch 78 rpm record meant that singers usually did not release long pieces on record. One exception is Frank Sinatra's recording of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Soliloquy", from Carousel, made on May 28, 1946. Because it ran 7:57, longer than both sides of a standard 78 rpm 10-inch record, it was released on Columbia's Masterwork label (the classical division) as two sides of a 12-inch record. The same was true of John Raitt's performance of the song on the original cast album of Carousel, which had been issued on a 78-rpm album set by American Decca in 1945.

In the 78 era, classical-music and spoken-word items generally were released on the longer 12-inch 78s, about 4–5 minutes per side. For example, on June 10, 1924, four months after the February 12 premier of Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin recorded a drastically shortened version of the seventeen-minute work with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was released on two sides of Victor 55225 and ran for 8:59.

Record albums
Such 78 rpm records were usually sold separately, in brown paper or cardboard sleeves that were sometimes plain and sometimes printed to show the producer or the retailer's name. Generally the sleeves had a circular cut-out allowing the record label to be seen. Records could be laid on a shelf horizontally or stood upright on an edge, but because of their fragility, many broke in storage.

German record company Odeon is often said to have pioneered the album in 1909 when it released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package (It is not indicated what size the records are). However, Deutsche Grammophon had produced an album for its complete recording of the opera Carmen in the previous year. The practice of issuing albums does not seem to have been widely taken up by other record companies for many years; however, HMV provided an album, with a pictorial cover, for the 1917 recording of The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan).

By about 1910, bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records (the term "record album" was printed on some covers). These albums came in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them.

Starting in the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight tunes per album. When the 12-inch vinyl LP era began in 1949, the single record often had the same or similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, and was still often referred to as an "album".-