How We Made Records in 1916

This is how you made a record in 1916.  The person or band being recorded was directed to sing/play into the acoustic horn.  A diaphragm at the base of the horn moved a needle which cut grooves into a rotating disc.  That disc became the master recording.

This photo (courtesy The Chive) is a shot of a Blackkfoot chief being recored by enthnomusicologist Frances Densmore.

Juliette Jagger

Juliette Jagger is a Canadian music journalist. She is on Twitter @juliettejagger.

2 thoughts on “How We Made Records in 1916

  • November 11, 2013 at 12:49 am
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    There's a nice depiction of this process in the 1998 Giuseppe Tornatore film The Legend Of 1900, with Tim Roth. It's around the 1:14 to 1:19 mark of the 2 hour version. Or you can youtube a shorter version of the scene, just search The Legend of 1900 Playing Love. The youtube cuts short some of the views of the machinery though.

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  • November 11, 2013 at 4:54 am
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    Alan. if you haven't already done so, read Perfecting Sound Forever by Greg Milner. A great historical document on the history of recorded music as well as a keen polemic on the state of the digital era.

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