Stacks Image 23

by Grandmixer GMS

cont from Nasty News

At that time reels were 10-11 minutes long. Initially, the soundtrack was separate from the visual. The projector showed the film and the sound was supplied by a record player. This meant that the length of both the visual reel and the record had to be the same. After painstaking calculations, J.P. Maxfield figured out that in order to sustain maximum sound fidelity and volume for 11-12 minutes while keeping noise to a minimum, grooves on the record had to be filled in at about 100-to-the-inch on a 12-inch disc rotating at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute (rpm). While the density of the grooves (originally called ‘microgrooves’) increased over time, the diameter of the disc and the spin speed stayed the same. This is why vinyl records are 12-inches in diameter and spin at 33 1/3 rpm’s to this very day.

Thus, thanks to J.P. Maxfield, the records we play sound much better than they originally did. And who knows how things may be different were it not for Maxfield’s work. Would records measure 12 inches? Would the “12-inch single” have ever been invented? Would the Techniques 1200’s have the 33 1/3 option? Would the Techniques 1200’s even exist? If so, what size would the platter be? What about pitch control?

We may never know how records and turntables would exist today were it not for J.P. Maxfield, but safe to say we all owe him a debt of gratitude and recognition for his (unforeseen) contributions to the world of music and DJ culture. So thank you J.P. Maxfield: My memories of buying and playing records are something I dearly cherish and I can’t imagine how life would be without them.

Sampling: A Brief Journey in Time & Sound

 People often ask me, “who was the first artist to use an electronic sampler on a record, and where did ‘sampling’ come from?” Simple questions with not-so-simple answers. The first (debatable) question I’ll get out of the way: As far as we can tell, the first artist to use a sampler on a record, is Cuba Gooding, Sr., who sampled his own voice in the song, “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend.” (1983).

The second question requires a look at the history of sound recording.

In the earth 20th century, jazz musicians often “sampled” bits of melodies, hook or progressions from their peers’ compositions in their live performances. This “borrowing” of music is an early example of sampling methods, but it’s a scratch on the surface, as sampling today is the reuse of a portion (or “sample”) of a sound recording in another recording.
For most of History, simply hearing music required the presence of live musicians. It wasn’t until the end of the 19
th century that people had access to audio recordings after Thomas Edison invented the phonograph (1877). Another milestone was the then-called electrical recording where a microphone converted sound into an electrical signal that was amplified and triggered the recording stylus. This produced more full-bodied recordings by greatly extending the audio frequency ranges and allowed previously unrecordable sounds to be captured. Contemporaneously, other electronic developments converged to revolutionize the recording process, such as improved microphones and auxiliary devices (e.g., electronic filters), all dependent on electronic amplification to be of practical use in recording.
The first electrical recording issued to the public was of the November 11, 1920, funeral services for
The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, London. Despite amplification, the audio was weak and unclear; however, the procedure produced a recording that would otherwise not have been possible. For years, this little-noted disc remained the only issued electrical recording.
In the early 1920s, several record companies, inventors, and
Western Electric experimented with electrical recording techniques, making important strides. But a critical invention in the sampling road was that of magnetic tape (invented for recording sound by Fritz Pfleumer in 1928 in Germany), which was further refined by German companies AEG and BASF. Due to political tensions and the outbreak of WWII, these developments were largely kept secret, and it wasn’t until after the war that Americans were able to bring this technology out of Germany and develop it into commercially viable formats.
In the 1940s, French composer
Pierre Schaeffer (along with Pierre Henry) developed musique concrète, an experimental form of music created by recording sounds to tape, splicing them, and manipulating them into sound collages. Using sounds from anywhere – trains, the human body, even kitchen utensils – the method also involved tape loops (splicing lengths of tape end-to-end) so a sound could be played indefinitely. Schaeffer developed the Phonogene, which played loops at twelve different pitches triggered by a keyboard.
In 1956,
Buchanan and Goodman recorded, “The Flying Saucer Parts 1 & II,” an important historical document for sampling. This recording was the subject of a copyright infringement case. The court ruled that the sampled mix was considered a parody and was an entirely new work. The song peaked at #3 on Billboard and sold over a million copies. This was the first time an artist had a hit with sampled music, and it was the first time sampled artists were compensated.
Musique concrete was used by Bebe and Louis Barron for the first electronic film soundtrack, “Forbidden Planet” (1956); the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for the “Doctor Who” soundtrack; the Beatles (“Revolution 9”); and in 1961, James Tenney went a step further by drastically manipulating Elvis Presley’s “Blue Suede Shoes,” in his “Collage #1” track.
In the 60s, Jamaican dub reggae producers, like
King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, used pre-recorded samples of reggae rhythms to produce riddim tracks, which were then deejayed over. Jamaican immigrants later introduced dub sampling techniques to American hip-hop music in the 1970s.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, sampling exploded with hip-hop: DJs started manipulating the vinyl records they played. At first, DJs like
Kool Herc would play and replay the breaks in funk music, and others, like Grandmaster Flash, further refined those techniques.
During this time technology continued to advance sampling. Early “samplers” were large and limited: Prior to computer-based samplers, musicians used “tape replay” keyboards which stored recordings on analog tape. A key was pressed, a tape head contacted the moving tape and played a sound (the
Chamberlan and Mellotron being examples). The digital sampler, however, made sampling far more practical.
The earliest digital sampling was done on the
EMS Musys system (1969). The first polyphonic digital sampling synthesizer was the Australian-produced Fairlight CMI, first available in 1979, created by Peter Vogel – who coined the term “sample” – and Kim Ryrie. However, the sample length was short and of poor quality: a sample typically lasted from a half of, to one, second; the sample rate was 24 kilohertz with a ten kilohertz frequency response, at most. In other words, the abilities and sample quality was not good. Moreover, the Fairlight was expensive: in 1979 it cost £12,000, which today would be over $70,000.
Fairlight inspired competition. Notably, two machines had a profound impact: the SP-1200 (E-MU Systems) (1987), and MPC60 (Akai) (1988). These machines allowed users to assign samples to pads and trigger them independently, similarly to playing a keyboard or drum kit and were “all-in-one” boxes, challenging the notion of what a band can look like, or what it took to be a successful musician: no longer did one need capable musicians or instruments to make great music, nor did they need a studio.
Sampling has thus influenced all genres of music. The explosion of electronic music and hip-hop arguably could not have happened without these affordable samplers, and today’s DJ culture would likely be very different – if existing at all – had those who came before us not manipulated sounds in such (then) unconventional ways. We’ve come a long way, and technology has made music creation easier and cheaper: music capabilities that would have cost well over $150,000 in the 1970s can be created more efficiently and easier on a $20 smartphone today.
This history of sampling provides an exciting look at what the future may hold, as one idea from one person can expand into ways never anticipated, just as producers and DJs manipulated sounds in ways never imagined.

The Vocoder

The Vocoder:
Nazi Fighter Music Maker Smartphone Ancestor
For most of us, the vocoder brings to mind a certain time and space: electronic and funk music of the late ’70s and early ‘80s. Few people realize, however, that we hear vocoders every day. The same technology that brought us early hip-hop records like the Jonzun Crew’s “Pac Jam,” is also at work in every smartphone on Earth. However, the history goes deeper: the vocoder played a major role as a cryptographic tool against the Nazis in the Second World War.
In 1928, Bell Laboratories research physicist Homer Dudley began developing a way to make it easier to transmit telephone conversations over long distances by reducing bandwidth. Dudley thought that speech is simply a continuous sound -- essentially a carrier signal -- created by the vocal cords and modulated by the mouth, throat and sinuses to form words. He figured speech could be electronically reproduced by creating modular blocks of sound that could then be arranged into intelligible language. This work developed the channel vocoder (Voice Operated reCorDER) which was used as a “voice codec” for telecommunications for coding speech to conserve bandwidth in transmission. This category of voice codec analyzes and synthesizes the human voice signal for audio data compression, multiplexing, voice encryption or voice transformation. By encrypting the control signals, voice transmission can be secured against interception. Its primary use in this fashion is for secure radio communication. The decoder portion of the vocoder, called a voder (Voice Operation DEmonstratoR), which can be used independently for speech synthesis, was first unveiled in 1939 at the New York World Fair and in 1940 in San Francisco.
This technology was quickly pounced upon by the military, and an enhanced version of it was used to scramble transatlantic conversations between
Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt during World War II. The vocoder had guarded -- and frustrated -- phone conversations of World leaders, and in the hushed realm of “Secret Telephony,” the vocoder had become a bad word, as it sounded horrible.

After the war, the encryption terminals became too difficult to maintain, so they were scrapped. However, this was not the end of the vocoder: In the late ‘40s and ‘50s, the vocoder’s robot sound began creeping into entertainment. The talking train in “Dumbo” is one example, which drove Joan Crawford insane in the film “Possessed.” German Scientist Werner Meyer-Eppler had spoken with Dudley just after the war and they discussed the vocoder. Meyer-Eppler then began investigating the possibilities of electronic music and in 1949 during a speech in Detmold, Germany, he played electrical larynx and vocoder recordings. Electronic companies like Sennheiser and Siemens created more functional vocoders, and demo tapes of the machines circulated until landing in the hands of musicians such as Florian Schneider, who would later found Kraftwerk.

In 1968, electronic pioneer Bruce Haack built his own vocoder which he used on the album, “The Electronic Record for Children.” Around the same time, Bob Moog was developing his own vocoder; it was this Moog vocoder that was heard on the “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack by Wendy Carlos. Then, in 1974, Kraftwerk really brought the vocoder mainstream with their single and album, “Autobahn.” Afterwards, the use of the vocoder began to snowball: artists like Herbie Hancock, Phil Collins, and Michael Jackson all made use of it. Of course, one song, “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, must be noted: Planet Rock’s influence to the emerging hip hop movement cannot be quantified, as it became a sort of blueprint for early hip hop and electronic dance music.
Today, vocoders are heard everywhere on television, the internet, and of course, music: artists such as
Daft Punk and Katy Perry have used the once Nazi-fighting technology for our listening pleasure. But to bring the significance of this invention into perspective, imagine what our lives would be without our smartphones -- an unforeseen offspring of vocoder technology that has truly rocked the planet in a way that neither Afrika Bambaata nor Homer Dudley could have envisioned.

by Grandmixer GMS
"Karlheinz Brandenburg used a CD recording of Suzanne Vega's song "Tom's Diner" to assess and refine the MP3 compression algorithm. This song was chosen because of its nearly monophonic nature and wide spectral content, making it easier to hear imperfections in the compression format during playbacks. Some refer to Suzanne Vega as "The mother of MP3.”

An interesting property of this particular track is that the two channels are almost, but not completely, the same. Thus, the Binaural Masking Level Depression causes spatial unmasking of noise artifacts unless the encoder properly recognizes the situation and applies corrections similar to those detailed in the
MPEG-2 AAC psychoacoustic model. The sample of “Tom's Diner” was later used in Nikki D's “Daddy's Little Girl.”

mp3 development:

first mp3 song: