Bert Bailey <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>But does it mean, though, that any classical movements or pieces
>of longer than three minutes' duration were previously broken up
>over several 78 rpm records?
Yes. The duration of a 12 inch 78 rpm disc was, a little over 4
minutes. There are many examples of a longer duration, but that was
the norm. A conductor would often have several takes for each portion
of the movement. He would have to stop the orchestra and then the
technician would place another disc on the turntable and the recording
would continue. Also, in some instances, multiple takes would be issued,
so one could have the opportunity to hear several different versions of
a given side. The takes were often indicated by letters of the alphabet
which were inscribed towards the center of the disc. That is one reason
why archives seek out multiple sets of 78s, as one never knows what takes
were in a particular set until you look at the records, and only through
examining company files can you know which and how many takes were issued.
I marvel that musicians could stop and then start their playing, keeping
the tempo the same.
There is a wonderful video one can see at
It is a short film which shows the recording process of 78s. Watching
it makes one marvel at the trouble it took to make recordings during
Late in the history of 78s, the recording time was extended by the use
of the 16 inch lacquer disc. These discs would record 15 minutes. That
way, an entire movement could be recorded and then the 12 inch sides
could be edited from that 16 inch disc.
As for getting a fair representation of performance, one can look to the
broadcast transcriptions from about 1935 on. Broadcasts were usually
recorded on the 16 inch discs from as early as 1936 or so. Because of
their increased circumference they could spin at 33 1/3 rpm and still
maintain good fidelity and, as I mentioned above, offer 15 minutes of
uninterrupted music. In general, when making lacquers of broadcasts,
they used two turntables and would switch between them when the time of
one disc was about to be used up. The two turntable approach was not
used, as far as I know, when 12 inch 78s were recorded. They wanted to
make sure that there was a logical place to have a break between sides,
plus, it was a way to do editing. For example, if there was a flub when
one side was recorded, they could simply redo the side.
>Also, can anyone on the List tell me when the first release of
>multi-LP albums, classical or otherwise, took place? I expect this
>would mean the first time a 2-LP album was released.
I don't know the answer to that question, but my guess would be that it
happened early on in the history of the LP, in late 1948.
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