26,000 78s digitised
August 10, 2017 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Through the Great 78 Project, the Internet Archive has begun to digitise 78rpm discs for preservation, research, and discovery with the help of George Blood, L.P. Currently the number digitised stands at 25,989. Four stylii are used to transfer the records – 2.0mm truncated conical, 2.3mm truncated conical, 2.8mm truncated conical, 3.3mm truncated conical – recorded flat and then equalised. The preferred version is then chosen by an engineer.
posted by criticalbill (41 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
 
What a wonderful collection!
posted by james33 at 5:11 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Download options include 24-bit Flac, Tiff, VBR MP3 etc
posted by criticalbill at 5:13 AM on August 10


OMG! This is a really amazing project and is a deep resource of early music that might as well be dead or have never existed for most of the public.

I look forward to digging through this. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 5:22 AM on August 10


Daniel Jan Walikis Polka Collection

Going to have a wild time tonight!

Really what a fantastic project, educational and inspirational for, well, forever!
posted by sammyo at 5:25 AM on August 10


78s were mostly made from shellac, i.e., beetle resin

beetle resin -- Meet the Beetles
posted by pracowity at 6:42 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I love that they took the time to get a player working on Twitter too. (I have no idea how much work that is, or isn't, I just know it makes my browsing easier)

(I Wished For An Angel But) The Devil Sent You, Performer: Johnny Horton
posted by DigDoug at 6:46 AM on August 10


~ Is pleased to see Spike Jones amply represented.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:47 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Yes yes yes yes yes. Yes. Oh yes.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:02 AM on August 10


College radio may never be the same.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 7:10 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


This is very lovely, and the fact they've aimed for transcription quality is spectacular.

Things I've been digging in only a few minutes' grubbing around: And then there's this: Polka Yodel : Trio Shmeed. I initially clicked on it for teh lolpolka + lolyodel lulz, but it's got something. They seem extremely happy, whatever it is they're doing, and you can't hate on that.
posted by scruss at 7:22 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I saw this elsewhere, and bookmarked it. I don't even know where to start. I'm quite glad I don't have something silly like a job to interrupt my exploration.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:26 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


In addition to the official Twitter feed, there's also a fan account that only posts every two hours (the official one posts every ten minutes).

The fan one converts the audio to embedded videos, a pretty cool feat.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:33 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I don't even know where to start.

I started with Judy Garland, "Over The Rainbow". That really is a beautiful song.
posted by thelonius at 7:40 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Ghost World II, here we come!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:40 AM on August 10


I love the twitter feed of a newly digitized 78 every 10 minutes. Also, the Internet Archive can use help finding the dates for 10,000 of them-- takes internet sluething. There is a slack channel for interested folks. Also looking for donations of 78's to digitize and preserve, they pay shipping. (disclosure: I work for the Internet Archive and love love love the 78's. try the yodeling and hillbilly)
posted by brewsterkahle at 7:44 AM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Also the new "play all" feature on research results, collections, and on details pages over the related discs-- makes for a whole day or dinner of wacky music.
posted by brewsterkahle at 7:51 AM on August 10


If you like anniversaries, here's what any hep would-be DJ might have been throwing on the old Victrola to get bodies on the dance floor almost exactly one hundred years ago: Razzberries - One Step
posted by gusottertrout at 7:57 AM on August 10


And then there's this: Polka Yodel : Trio Shmeed.

Shmeed, Schmied, Schmid... and Liberace.
posted by pracowity at 8:19 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


This is what the digital revolution was all about!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:52 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I see they have information about donating.
I've been looking for a place to send mine.
posted by MtDewd at 9:04 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Wonderful stuff.
posted by JanetLand at 9:08 AM on August 10


Internet Archive has begun to digitise 78rpm discs for preservation, research, and discovery with the help of George Blood, L.P.

So we're getting 78s via an LP.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:21 AM on August 10


Oh my God, Cocky Cowboy. This is the dirtiest cowboy song I have ever heard.
posted by maxsparber at 10:03 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


I grew up listening to this set of 3 78s, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, with much of the dialog and narration copped from Robert Browning's clever poem of the same name.

It features The Artie Shaw Orchestra, with Artie Shaw's clarinet as the piper's pipe, Edwin Max as a hepcat piper, Arthur Q. Bryant as the mayor of Hamelin using a voice almost identical to Elmer Fudd's, and Harry Von Zell as the Narrator.

Here's a terrible recording of part one

Here's Shaw's Pied Piper Theme in full

Fun stuff, and George Blood, LP if you're listening, it's never been commercially released on CD.

I also have some very early Mills Brothers 78s that were given to my maternal grandfather by the Brothers themselves. It seems they were stuck in Cincinnati overnight without a hotel room and in that time and place, four black guys would have had a hard time booking a decent hotel room late at night under the best of circumstances. Papaw, the grandson of German immigrants, put 'em up for the night in their front room.

I wonder if George Blood, LP is set up to digitise Edison Diamond Discs. The oldest phonograph record I've got isn't actually a "78" it's a 1913 Diamond Disc, and I've no idea how to go about playing it.

These were made by the Edison company between 1912 to 1929, as Edison tried to catch up and surpass his competitors who'd gone to discs while he was still backing cylinders. Diamond discs were ten inches across and had a small hole in the middle, but were otherwise incompatible with other early disc record players. The Edison grooves were modulated up-and-down rather than side to side; They played at 80 RPM rather than 78; They required a special stylus (needle), so much so that a conventional record player would destroy them! They were also much thicker (1/4 inch) than 78s.

You can find advertisements in newspapers of the day for the 'concerts' the Edison company used to put on at music halls, theatres, and such, which consisted in playing a series of Edison Discs to a rapt audience. My paternal great grandfather was a lawman most of his life, but he was also a music lover and sometime entrepreneur, and for a time in the 1910s he owned and operated a movie theater (They actually presented "The Perils of Pauline" serial and the like). That's probably where my DD came from.

The rest of the 78s I've inherited are either bizarrely mundane or mundanely bizarre.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:36 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


These were made by the Edison company between 1912 to 1929, as Edison tried to catch up and surpass his competitors who'd gone to discs while he was still backing cylinders. Diamond discs were ten inches across and had a small hole in the middle, but were otherwise incompatible with other early disc record players. The Edison grooves were modulated up-and-down rather than side to side; They played at 80 RPM rather than 78; They required a special stylus (needle), so much so that a conventional record player would destroy them! They were also much thicker (1/4 inch) than 78s.

Typical Edison dick move to try to monopolize a business.
posted by briank at 1:10 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I'm just sitting here at work listening to all the country songs, and it's amazing. I love this so much.
posted by god hates math at 2:04 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they do 16 rpms? I've never even seen a 16, although my grandma had a record player that played them. I used it to attempt to transcribe the bass solo from "Havona" on Heavy Weather, although I still couldn't cope with the fast passages.

Now you can just get the transcription from the Internet, and I found a Youtube video of an 11 year old playing it.....
posted by thelonius at 2:12 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


TIL Claude Bolling (Previously) was a child prodigy (born 1930, still alive) whose career started at age 14. This project has digitized a 78 by him recorded in 1946 when he was a teenager. Apparently it's not listed on Discogs though.
posted by larrybob at 2:33 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I'm My Own Grandmaw
posted by nikoniko at 2:44 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Typical Edison dick move to try to monopolize a business.

It didn't work. The diamond styluses lasted a lot longer; the up-and-down grooves were carried-over from his (successful) cylinder recording business, which was fading away. The DD's were 1/4-inch thick, costly to ship. But mostly Edison had no ear for talent ....
"Until 1924 or so, the busy Thomas A. Edison personally decided what was issued, approving or rejecting takes. He preferred simple melodies and basic harmonies, disliking jazz, dissonance, loud accompaniment. This created tension at the Edison company, with the A & R staff fighting with Edison over choices of titles issued.... Edison scoffed when Victor and Columbia switched in 1925 to an electric recording process, or the microphone. - Gracyk
In short, he screwed himself; it was all over by 1929.
posted by Twang at 2:55 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


You can get an Edison stylus for standard turntables if you have one that can run at 78 rpm (or if you can speed up the track in software after transcribing). You can even use a normal stereo stylus if you rewire the connections, since stereo is normally encoded by a combination of lateral and vertical movement for mono compatibility.
posted by enf at 4:21 PM on August 10


16 rpm was typically used for voice only recordings.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 4:38 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Internet Archive has 50 sides of edison discs. Recorded with vertical groove and all. We are hoping for another donation that has many more.
posted by brewsterkahle at 6:19 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


There is also http://78records.cdbpdx.com, with about 5,850 78s.
posted by SNACKeR at 6:22 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


There are a several 'services' that employed 16rpm phono records, none at particularly high volume. The advantage is more runtime per disc, the disadvantage is that the slower speed brings lower frequency response, typically 300 - 3000 Hz, similar to standard landline telephone. Economical for voice, quite dissatisfying for music.

Most of these became available between 1935 and 1960, and petered out by about 1970.
  • The biggest and best-known were so-called "Talking Books", eg. books read aloud as a service for the blind. AFAIK, the Audio Book Company still exists, though they haven't distributed material on 16RPM discs for decades.
  • Various spoken word services existed to distribute sermons, speeches, lectures, and so on.
  • The Seeburg Background Music service which was what it sounds like and sounded as bad as it sounds like it would sound like.
  • Finally, there was an option in some Chrysler automobiles for a couple years in the late 1950s called "Highway Hi-Fi" that played 7-inch microgroove phonograph records at 16 rpm -- in your car. It didn't work well.
posted by Herodios at 7:12 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]



Internet Archive has 50 sides of edison discs.

So they do, and if you click on 'em, there's a bit of technical detail on their process. Somewhat surprised they are using physical stylii and not lasers to read the bumps. Can't argue with their results, though.

Unfortunately, they have not digitized mine, though I have heard what's on it elsewhere online. It's "Good-bye Rose" b/w "When The Song Birds Sing No More", both sung by the now anonymous Emory B. Randolph.

Nowhere near as interesting as "A Cocky Cowboy".
posted by Herodios at 8:14 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]




There's so many great songs in here. There aren't too many you could find a better version of elsewhere, but why? Hearing the scratches is part of the charm.

"It's Drunk Out Tonight" and "T'Ain't What You Want (It's What You Got)" by Butterball Brown seem to be only online in this archive, according to the reviewer.

You can go through this archive for days. Here's some I enjoyed:

Pussy, Pussy, Pussy by Light Crust Doughboys
Has Anybody Seen My Kitty? by Bugle Sam
How'm I Doin'? by Sharkey and his Band (feat. Bugle Sam)
Lock The Door And Shut The Window by Red Rowe and The Ridge Riders
The Tavern Song by Chuck Mulkern and the Bar Room Boys
New Rubbing On The Darned Old Thing by Oscar's Chicago Swingers (Cuts off early, they captured as much of the 78 as they could.)
Der Fuehrer's Face by Arthur Fields
Kilroy Was Here by Tin Ear Tanner and his Back Room Boys
What Color Are Pansies (Whoo, Whoo, Whoo) by The Don Carper Quintette
Aba Daba Honeymoon by Bea Abbott & Jerry Keller
posted by Catblack at 9:02 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Who Said I Was a Bum? by Lazy Larry
posted by Catblack at 9:25 PM on August 10


This may be my new favorite version of "Ragtime Cowboy Joe."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:02 AM on August 11


I suppose this is an appropriate place to drop a little reminiscence about Daniel Jan Walikis.

I was a DJ at WHRW from 2007 thru 2015-ish, and I've got nothing but fond memories of him and the European Ethnic Melodies show*. Without fail, every Tuesday for 3 hours, from 7 to 10 PM, Dan Jan (as he was known around the station) would be on the air, broadcasting his cheer to the greater Binghamton area. He truly believed in music as a therapeutic device; as a way to keep feeling young and rejuvenate yourself.

Dan Jan would show up an hour or so before his show, wheeling in a couple crates of CDs (and an additional CD player) in and on top of a wire cart. Some of those CDs were modern releases, but most were CD transfers of his vinyl collection, which took up a sizeable portion of his basement. The cuts he'd play were mostly 3 minutes or less, and often his vocal breaks between songs, a high-flying patter describing the catalog information of music he'd just played in exacting detail, the greater context of the composition, facts about the bands, translations of the titles from their native tongue into English and other off-the-cuff remarks, would rival the length of the songs themselves.

Whenever he was going to be out of town during his show, he'd pre-record a full 3 hour show, on 3 CDs, for someone to play. Often the only way to tell that you were listening to "Dan Jan in a Can" was the lack of current weather updates during his announcement breaks.

On top of running a regular weekly show, Dan Jan was also the Alumni Relations director at WHRW, a position he filled with the gusto he brought to all his endeavors. He was also a mentor and well-experienced adult, something greatly appreciated at a place that was run and staffed primarily by volunteering college students. More than once I remember turning up at the station and noticing a reupholstered and repaired office chair, or a hand-written reminder note to wash your hands during flu season next to an industrial sized hand-pump container of hand sanitizer. Once or twice a semester you might get a rare treat when he'd bring in homemade cheesecake or peanut brittle to a board meeting.

Dan Jan's unexpected passing in 2012 was, for lack of a better word, devastating. However, I'm so pleased that his record collection made it to the folks at the ARChive of Contemporary Music, and through them to archive.org. I get the feeling that he'd be tickled pink that the entire world can experience, as he would put it, some "eclectic, dynamic life-force, Euro-American multi-ethnic folk, world, nationality, and polka music".

The only appropriate way I can think of to end this comment is with the first hour of one of Dan Jan's last shows from 2012. [Google Drive download link]

As he would say at the end of his shows: "until we meet again, so long for now, take care of yourself, smile more, and always remember to keep a song of your heritage in your heart."

*(For some background context, one of the region's largest employers in the first half of the 20th century was the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which heavily recruited workers from Slavic countries in Europe. It's probably safe to say that polka was one of the many things that came along with the workers.)
posted by t3h933k at 11:00 PM on August 25 [2 favorites]


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