The progress of recording…

Esta noticia en español…

On the quality of old recordings…

In the milongas, only titles recorded after 1926 are used. Do you know why?

  1. The Guardia Vieja is not always interesting to dance.
  2. The orchestras didn’t really play tango until 1926.
  3. The quality of previous recordings is not good enough.

The first reason is not accurate. If in Buenos Aires the Guardia Vieja is very little disseminated, this is far from the situation in Europe. Let’s say that these recordings are often a little poor and average to dance, but they are broadcast in milongas when they were recorded after 1926…

The second is not accurate either. The combination of the different original rhythms, candombe, payador’s songs, habanera, canyengue, and others had already given birth to real tango (2X4 in particular). Some rather slow pieces were then accelerated and became milongas, others retained the character of the tango. So that’s not the second reason.

Acoustic recording

And yes, this is the third good solution. The first recordings were made by emitting sound in a collector’s pavilion, in order to concentrate the sound vibrations towards a needle that was engraving a furrow in a ductile material (such as wax).

Phonographe Edison 1877
Phonographe Edison 1877

Edison Phonograph 1877. He was recording on a tin cylinder. It was also used for reproduction.

Enregistreur acoustique sur cylindre
Enregistreur acoustique sur cylindre

Girard phonograph allowing the return of molded cylinders. It was mounted with a key (visible on the left of the image).

Enregistrement par Frances_Densmore d'un chef Blackfoot indien des montagnes, le 2 septembre 1916.
Enregistrement par Frances Densmore d’un chef Blackfoot indien des montagnes, le 2 septembre 1916.

Recording of an Indian chief on a Gramophone in 1916

Orchestre enregistrant en acoustique
Orchestre enregistrant en acoustique

Orchestra recording in acoustics. Notice the large pavilion pointing to the recorder and how the musicians are « stacked » to be in front of the pavilion. The violinist in the foreground has a pavilion violin that gives a louder and more directional sound.

Violon à pavillon (Orchestre de Julio de Caro)
Violon à pavillon (Orchestre de Julio de Caro)

Violin pavilion (Orchestra of Julio de Caro)

Orchestre enregistrant en acoustique
Orchestre enregistrant en acoustique

Orchestra recording in acoustics. In the cabin, the recorder on a wax disc.

In 1925, the electrical recording quickly discarded this type of equipment… In Argentina, it was not until 1926 that the first electrical recordings were found, as publishers sought to sell their old stock…

Electrical recording

In 1906, the invention of the microphone improved the system, but it was not until 1925 that electrical recording was born industrially.

The microphone is combined with an amplifier that allows the masters to be engraved with great precision (discs that will be used after casting to press the discs broadcast).

Orchestre Odeon jouant devant un microphone à charbon
Orchestre Odeon jouant devant un microphone à charbon

Victor Orchestra playing in front of a coal microphone

En coulisse, l'ingénieur du son surveille la gravure du master...
En coulisse, l’ingénieur du son surveille la gravure du master…

Backstage, the sound engineer monitors the engraving of the master’…

Microphone Western Electric
Microphone Western Electric
Microphone à charbon
Microphone à charbon

Coal microphone

Microphone Western Electric

Let’s listen to the difference between acoustic and electric

Francisco Canaro’s orchestra has recorded the tango Caricias twice. Once in 1924, with an acoustic recording system and once in 1927, with an electronic system.

It is very interesting to see how the quality has been improved in the space of a few months…

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