S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Excerpts from The Gramophone

In the early 1920s, gramophones had been around for about as long as the PC has been now. Their users were or are long-term and experienced; many had grown up with the technology in their homes, a thing to be taken for granted; and yet, really, in the greater scheme of things, both technologies were or are still the equivalent of gawky teenagers.

The Gramophone has its complete archives online, from 1923 onwards.

On audio books (June 1924)

The gramophone, having risen so high in the recording of music, could now very well turn its attention to literature. An advantage of the gramophone over wireless is that it enables the possessor to hear his favourite music whenever he desires and is able. Now there are great things in literature that we can never tire not only of reading, but, as with music, of hearing well interpreted. The first-class gramophone record manufacturing companies invariably engage artists of established repute for musical recordings. Assuming a similar policy with regard to literature, what treats could be in store for us ! Scenes from Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Ibsen, Jerome, Shaw, and Barrie. Artists like Sir J. Martin Harvey, Sir Frank Benson, and Sybil Thorndyke.

On four minute tracks (June 1924)

Are the companies who manufacture records considering what can be done to alter the present system with its time limit of four minutes if tone quality is to be maintained ? Apparently their attitude is something like this : " Our sales are increasing, which shows that the public are satisfied ; why then, should we incur the expense of instituting a new system of recording ? " But surely it is a great mistake to assume that the public are satisfied ; they buy the short records because they realise that the best artistes and adequate recording are essential. But no true lover of music is satisfied with a system which involves irritating breaks in the Middle of a movement, and where a lengthy work is concerned means a choice between frequent cuts or a rendering split up into eight or more parts, some of which have to be noticeably short if any consideration is to be given to artistic effect as regards the divisions.

On the usefulness of chamber music (April 1923)

I was reading the other day about some gramophone records that have been devised to help out physical exercises by setting them to catchy tunes, and it has struck me that the physical exercises might have been omitted and chamber music substituted for the catchy tunes.

On women and the gramophone (December 1925)

At the risk of being too late for the joust, I feel impelled to break a lance in defence of " Ladies versus the Gramophone." It has been more than implied that we cannot appreciate the gramophone. Why should we ? To begin with, musical women have very little need of it. Music enters so largely into the education of girls that all the musically inclined gain a creditable proficiency at one instrument at least, very often a working knowledge of a second, and singing if there is any voice to cultivate.

On selling records (August 1923)

The discs are put up for sale one at a time, each being played over first, so that all may hear. No eloquence on the part of the auctioneer is needed as the music speaks for itself.

On comparative gramophone testing (September 1923)

THE light-heartedness with which Englishmen enter upon a strenuous campaign was never better exemplified than by the trio who undertook the test of Gramophones, sound-boxes and needles at the suggestion of the Editor. It sounded so simple, so valuable, so interesting. You just put a number of gramophones of various makes in a room decorated with sound-boxes and needles, sat in an armchair and listened with judicious alertness to the nuances of tonality, definition, etc., etc., of the different combinations of machines and accessories, till you had made notes which would be of inestimable value to all gramophone users. It would of course take time, but it would be as pleasant as testing the vintages of a rich cellar.

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