George Blood (USA)
It is widely known that during the era of 78rpm discs there were no universal standards for speed, stylus size or equalization. Substantial research has compiled common practices, especially for equalization, for many labels during different time periods.
Nonetheless, there remains substantial disagreement within our field about the “correct” stylus size and speed; not only for a given label during a given period, but also for any specific disc. Stylus size is especially problematic as engineers are often dealing with well-worn or damaged media. This makes it difficult to separate out the “correct” size from what is “necessary” to produce the best results for a specific artefact.
This paper will present the findings from data collected during digitization projects of thousands of 78rpm discs. Working with factory reference copies from the Edison National Historic Site (Diamond Discs), factory-new discs from the Eldridge Johnson Museum (Victor Talking Machine Company), OKeh Records (collection of circulated discs, i.e. non-pristine copies), and a random collection (to serve as a control), we are able to examine patterns for speed and stylus size. The large data sets enable us to discuss what are patterns and what are not, compare to previous assumptions, and to propose new bases for how to think about these issues. We can even look at subset by geographic region.
Our data will be useful both to archivists who will have information that can make digitization more efficient, and to lovers of these media who will have a better understanding of practices during these early days of recorded sound.
George Blood graduated from the University of Chicago (1983) with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory. He studied theory with Easley Blackwood (a private student of Nadia Boulanger), repertoire with Philip Gossett (Editor, critical editions of Verdi and Rossini for Casa Ricordi), Ellen Turner Harris (now retired Vice Provost at MIT), and analysis with Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran (Pulitzer Prize winning composers), among others. He is the only student of Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin.
Active recording live concerts (from student recitals to opera and major symphony orchestras), since 1982 he has documented over 4,000 live events. From 1984 through 1989 he was a producer at WFMT-FM, and has recorded and edited some 600 nationally syndicated radio programs, mostly of The Philadelphia Orchestra. He has recorded or produced over 250 CDs, 5 of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. His work can be heard on EMI, Toshiba/ EMI, New World Records, CRI, Parma, Innova, Pogus Records, Albany Records, Newport Classics and others. He was Recording Engineer for The Philadelphia Orchestra for 21 years, serving Maestros Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch.
George Blood, L.P. was founded as Safe Sound Archive in 1992. To this day, it continues as a repository for the thousands of recordings Mr. Blood has accumulated; and to house the recital archives of the Curtis Institute of Music and concert recordings of The Philadelphia Orchestra—which previously had been stored in an unheated warehouse and the “smoking lounge” of a local radio station.
Each month George Blood Audio and Video digitizes thousands of hours of audio and video collections from around the country. Staff are active in research into workflow, best practices, metadata, authentication, and interchangeability of digital information. Mr. Blood is an active teacher and presenter at conferences, sharing these findings with members of the trade and collections managers.