Music....OLD music.
November 8, 2015 5:35 AM   Subscribe

"The UCSB Library, with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Grammy Foundation, and donors, has created a digital collection of more than 10,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections. To bring these recordings to a wider audience, the Library makes them available to download or stream online for free." You can browse the collection here. More information about the collection can be found on their "about" page. (It's been nearly 10 years since this was posted previously, they've nearly doubled the size of the collection since then, I felt it was worth mentioning one more time. The collection, along with other resources was also mentioned in an FPP in 2006.)
posted by HuronBob (16 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's kind of amazing how popular music before rock and roll is like a lost continent to me. The self-satisfied youth cultures of both classic rock and punk assured me that we lost nothing by ignoring it, since it was all corny tripe. There are some snippets of vaudeville or music hall in the Beatles and some other (usually British) old bands, either as an homage (ironic or not?) or pastiche. Other than that, I guess I saw the Lawrence Welk show on at someone's granny's house, which didn't do much to correct the rocker position.
posted by thelonius at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thelonious, I envy you. There's a whole big world of great, pre-rock music out there waiting for you to discover it. The ball-less Lawrence Welk Show is like the worst possible representation of the powerful, energetic, and relentlessly sexual brilliance of what people call the great American songbook. Names you must check out: Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen. Watch "42nd Street". Get started.
posted by Modest House at 8:04 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone (like me) who is occasionally tempted to mentally downplay the virulence and ubiquity of historic racial hatred should listen to the Minstrel Songs section of the UCSB Library. The casual way these artists deploy the ugliest stereotypes and vilest racial epithets will take your breath away.
posted by Modest House at 8:14 AM on November 8, 2015


Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen

I'm familiar with that stuff via its absorption into the jazz standard repertoire. But those songs originally were pop vocal hits, weren't they? Who sang them? I haven't heard that music as the guys who assimilated it into jazz heard it.
posted by thelonius at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2015


Who sang them?

This question makes me dizzy. So many names! My eccentric choice for where to begin, would be to recommend Bobby Short ... Interesting that you're coming to all this through jazz, thelonious. Very unusual.
posted by Modest House at 9:16 AM on November 8, 2015


I came to the Great American Songbook through jazz as well. I grew to like the tunes so much over the years that I was impelled to seek out the vocal versions which inspired the jazzers of the 30's, 40's and 50's.
posted by Agave at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are some snippets of vaudeville or music hall in the Beatles and some other (usually British) old bands, either as an homage (ironic or not?) or pastiche.

The Beatles were absolutely sincere in their love of music hall, probably unlike the Kinks or the Who. Apart from obvious things like 'When I'm 64' being among the first songs Paul wrote, you can also hear it in their love of singalongs ('Yellow Submarine') and pure joke songs with punchlines ('Drive My Car').
posted by colie at 10:14 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Listening to the 'Cylinder of the Day' ( “Old folks at home” performed by André Benoist), I'm hearing what sounds like a piano virtuoso playing on a piano that was dropped from at least a ten foot height. Or when I struggled to keep in tune when I was drafted into playing oboe for my high school band's concert. If there is a legitimate use for AutoTune, it is to bring these wobbly recorded cylinders back into the tune of the original performances!
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:35 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also got to the GAS via jazz.

But right now I am listening to opera recordings from 100+ years ago! Thanks for posting.
posted by mountmccabe at 1:56 PM on November 8, 2015


Fascinating. I just heard Teddy Roosevelt giving a speech. Then there's the old vaudeville stuff, and ragtime, etc. Lots here.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 2:49 PM on November 8, 2015


Gee, you're all listening to classy things. I'm listening to "indecent" toasts:

Here's to Boston, the town of hustle and push
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
But if you grab birdie and birdie will stand
A push in the bush is worth two in the hand

posted by teponaztli at 3:02 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


at first blush, I did not note any streaming playlist capacity built into the site. As noted in the prior YT music hall thread, I tend to use YT playlists for obscure stuff along these lines. I wonder if there's a way to build a playlist mechanism that uses these recordings in a similar way, while also being legal and ethical. I mean, presumably one could download huge subsets of the archive, convert them to static-image video, and upload to YT, but that seems inelegant.
posted by mwhybark at 4:50 PM on November 8, 2015


If there is a legitimate use for AutoTune, it is to bring these wobbly recorded cylinders back into the tune of the original performances!

Indeed. Cylinders are prone to wow and flutter issues. David Giovannoni uses a tool called Capstan to stabilize speed in his cylinder transfers, with excellent results. Capstan uses technology developed for Melodyne, an application with some similarities to AutoTune.
posted by in278s at 6:10 PM on November 8, 2015


Yep. I know that stuff only through jazz and Sinatra. I mean, some of the Ella recordings of the great American songbook are just about the greatest things ever recorded.

Great post!
posted by persona au gratin at 1:56 AM on November 9, 2015


mwhybark, I feel the same way. These are fantastic recordings, but require more manual interaction while I'm doing other things.

Soundcloud would be an excellent place for these to be mirrored on.
posted by dreamling at 8:06 AM on November 9, 2015


OMG these Tahiti cylinders are joyful.
posted by Theta States at 8:37 AM on November 9, 2015


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