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The 78s from which these files were made were mostly played with a 2.8 thousands-of-an-inch truncated elliptical stylus, equalized to constant amplitude plus a very considerable treble boost followed by a steep cut above 4kHz. I applied more bass cut than I would normally do, in order to keep the intelligibility as high as possible after the encoding process. Speed was corrected by ear so that the recordings sounded natural - speeds of 72-84rpm are very common in pre-World-War-One recordings.
The turntable used was a Goldring-Lenco GL70 (see below for a source of spares), with a Shure M44C fitted with a specially made stylus. This turntable - long since out of production (I've had mine since 1963) has continuously variable speed from 32 to 84 rpm, which is extremely useful when playing older records (or transfers to LP made at the wrong speed).
When the music-hall pages were originally posted, in 1998, most people were on dial-up connections and it was important to keep file sizes small; so the recordings were encoded in RealAudio format, which did rather tend to affect the quality. In 2000 I added MP3 versions; the records were remastered using SonicWORX® Artist Basic and converted using SoundJam™ MP (now defunt). In 2007 I reworked the pages to embed the MP3 files so that they would play directly: I removed the RealAudio versions on the thesis that by now most people interested in listening to audio would have broadband connections, so the use of RealAudio was redundant.
Although inevitably MP3 encoding does alter the original sound, the effects can be kept down by using a sensible bitrate - given the age of the recordings the changes are for the most part undetectable apart from a slight increase in surface noise. (Click here for more information on playing mp3 files and an index of all the mp3 files on this site.)
The choice of recordings was affected by copyright, as well as the need to choose material which was interesting, and was of sufficiently good quality to be converted to RealAudio (I have several recordings which would be interesting if there wasn't a very high level of surface noise which makes them a strain to listen to: and the RealAudio encoder makes it worse). Mechanical copyright - in the actual recording - lasts for 50 years from the date of publication, so all the recordings I wanted to use were OK from that point of view: but in Europe the copyright in the written word or music now lasts for 70 years from the death of the author or composer. As a result a surprising number of well-known music hall songs were still in copyright at the time these pages were originally created, including 'When Father Papered The Parlour' and 'Burlington Bertie From Bow', as well as most of Harry Champion's songs. Now, few people on the Internet seem to be bothering much about copyright: but EMI Music Publishers (who have swallowed up all the old publishers of popular songs such as Feldman, Darewski and Francis Day & Hunter) tend to be particularly jealous of their rights, so I didn't want to be the first person to be involved in a row about Internet copyright! However, the material I did choose - and I did do my best to check that it is indeed out of copyright - does offer a reasonable range or recordings which I hope visitors to my site will enjoy.
More recently I have been running a podcast, playing 78rpm records, and with the passage of time more songs have come out of copyright,
are available from TECHNICAL AND GENERAL, P.O.Box 53, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 2BY, England: telephone +44 (0)1892 65 45 34.
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