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Statistics 20142015  •  KXAN Austin Recording Museum Update  • view overview video of tape recorder collectionmobile videomore info

These pages are for reference of the media segments we hope to create in the museum.  We are looking for persons and organizations who have historical collections and would like to work with us in creating this facility and its contents.

Sound Recording's Impact on Music

MUSIC - When considering the history of sound recording and its impact on the various areas, many folks will think of music first. Music did influence many early innovations. The first recorded sound on a mechanical device was the phonautograph developed in Paris in 1857 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. There was no ability to play back the recordings which used a wavy stylus scratching lines on fragile paper blackened by oil lamp soot. These were only played when digitally recreated in 2008. However, when it was finally played back electronically, the content was a French folk song and the sound of the tuning folk used by the French orchestras.

Marvin Camras (1916–1995) was an electrical engineer and inventor who was widely influential in the field of magnetic recording. Camras built his first recording device, a wire recorder, in the 1930s for a cousin who was an aspiring singer. Shortly afterwards he discovered that using magnetic tape made the process of splicing and storing recordings easier. Camras's work attracted the notice of his professors at what is now Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and was offered a position at Armour Research Foundation (which merged with Lewis Institute in 1940 to become IIT) to develop his work. Before and during World War II Camras' early wire recorders were used by the armed forces to train pilots. They were also used for disinformation purposes: battle sounds were recorded and amplified and the recordings placed where the D-Day invasion was not going to take place. This work was kept secret until after the war.

Thomas Edison did not consider that his cylinder players would be used for music. He saw them as machines to record telephone calls and as dictating machines for business. However the majority of cylinders eventually were created for music.

So several significant early sound recording endeavors were musically related. One other note. Almost 50% of the professional magnetic tape recorders produced were used as data recorders for science, medicine, law enforcement and the military.

Austin Texas "The Live Music Capitol of the World" brochure - Austin Music Business Association

Austin, Texas' artistic community helped popularize artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, The Police and Elvis Costello inthe Southwest. Tex-Mex/New Wave bands as Vallejo and Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns gained some national fame.

Local punk and New Wave bands in the late 1970s included The Huns and the Skunks, along with The Delinquents, and Standing Waves. These bands soon clashed with an influx of hard core punk bands like The Dicks, The Offenders, and Big Boys.

Austin, especially through its central music scene in the corridors of Red River Avenue, South Congress Avenue and 6th Street, has been dubbed The Live Music Capital of the World." The Texas Music Hall of Fame' and Texas Music Museum are also located here.

The Austin area is home to South by Southwest, one of the largest annual music festivals in the United States. Austin has long been a hub of innovative psychedelic sound from the pioneering Roky Erikson and the 13th Floor Elevators to the Butthole Surfers, and hosts an annual festival celebrating the genre and Austin's contributions to it - Austin Psych Fest.

Austin is currently home to a number of bands that are enjoying popularity as part of the indie rock scene that is gaining prominence in the United States. These include Spoon, Ghostland Observatory, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, Explosions in the Sky, Okkervil River, The Black Angels, The Bright Light Social Hour, The Gary, and White Denim among others.

The transition of the Austin music scene from the mid-seventies progressive country scene to the punk/new wave and alternative influence that followed is captured in Jesse Sublett's memoir, "Never the Same Again: A Rock n' Roll Gothic," which details Sublett's experiences with the Skunks and other bands during that time period. Sublett has also documented the Austin music scene in his music-themed crime novels, "Rock Critic Murders," "Tough Baby," and "Boiled in Concrete."

Texas has long been a center for musical innovation. Texans have pioneered musical developments in tejano & conjunto music, Western Swing, Jazz, punk rock, mariachi, religious, country music, electronic music, gothic and industrial music and the blues. Texas has a rich music history. In preserving sound recording, one of its major impacts is in the music industry.  The stories reflect a rich sense of history.

"Blind" Lemon Jefferson

"Blind" Lemon Jefferson on the Texas license plates sponsored by the Texas Music Office

"Blind" Lemon Jefferson (born Lemon Henry Jefferson; September 24, 1893 – December 19, 1929) was an American blues and gospel singer, guitarist, and songwriter from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been called "Father of the Texas Blues".

Jefferson's performances were distinctive as a result of his high-pitched voice and the originality on his guitar playing.  Although his recordings sold well, he was not so influential on some younger blues singers of his generation, who could not imitate him as easily as they could other commercially successful artists. Later blues and rock and roll musicians, however, did attempt to imitate both his songs and his musical style.


Prior to Jefferson, very few artists had recorded solo voice and blues guitar, the first of which was vocalist Sara Martin and guitarist Sylvester Weaver. Jefferson's music is uninhibited and represented the classic sounds of everyday life from a honky-tonk to a country picnic to street corner blues to work in the burgeoning oil fields, a further reflection of his interest in mechanical objects and processes.

Jefferson did what very few had ever done – he became a successful solo guitarist and male vocalist in the commercial recording world. Unlike many artists who were "discovered" and recorded in their normal venues, in December 1925 or January 1926, he was taken to Chicago, Illinois, to record his first tracks. Uncharacteristically, Jefferson's first two recordings from this session were gospel songs ("I Want to be like Jesus in my Heart" and "All I Want is that Pure Religion"), released under the name Deacon L. J. Bates. This led to a second recording session in March 1926. His first releases under his own name, "Booster Blues" and "Dry Southern Blues", were hits; this led to the release of the other two songs from that session, "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues," which became a runaway success, with sales in six figures. He recorded about 100 tracks between 1926 and 1929; 43 records were issued, all but one for Paramount Records. Unfortunately, Paramount Records' studio techniques and quality were poor, and the resulting recordings were released with poor sound quality. In fact, in May 1926, Paramount had Jefferson re-record his hits "Got the Blues" and "Long Lonesome Blues" in the superior facilities at Marsh Laboratories, and subsequent releases used those versions. Both versions appear on compilation albums and may be compared.

Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter who was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. Holly was born in Lubbock, Texas, to a musical family during the Great Depression; he learned to play guitar and to sing alongside his siblings. His style was influenced by country music and rhythm and blues acts, and he performed in Lubbock with his friends from high school. He made his first appearance on local television in 1952, and the following year he formed the group "Buddy and Bob" with his friend Bob Montgomery. In 1955, "Blind" Buddy Hollyafter opening for Elvis Presley, Holly decided to pursue a career in music. He opened for Presley three times that year; his band's style shifted from country & western to entirely rock and roll. In October that year, when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets, Holly was spotted by Nashville scout Eddie Crandall, who helped him gain a contract with Decca Records.

Holly's recording sessions were produced by Owen Bradley. Holly was unhappy with Bradley's restrictions and the results of their work, and decided to visit producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico. Attracted by the success of the records produced by Petty, Holly traveled with his band to the studio where, among other songs, they recorded a demo of "That'll Be the Day". Petty became the band's manager and he sent the demo to Brunswick Records, who were impressed. The label decided to release the song without re-recording it. Because Holly's name was still linked to Decca, Brunswick credited the single to "The Crickets", which became the name of Holly's band.

In September 1957, as the band toured, "That'll Be the Day" topped the US "Best Sellers in Stores" chart and the UK Singles Chart. Its success was followed in October by the release of "Peggy Sue", which reached number three in "Best Sellers in Stores" chart, number three on the rhythm and blues chart and number six on the UK Singles Chart. In November, the album Chirping Crickets was released; it reached number five on the UK Albums Chart. By January 1958, Holly had appeared twice on The Ed Sullivan Show. Following his last performance, he embarked on a tour of Australia, which was followed in February by a tour of the UK.

During a visit to New York City, Holly met Maria Elena Santiago; the pair married and Holly moved to the city. The New York scene further interested Holly in record-producing and songwriting. At the same time, Holly and the Crickets started becoming unhappy with their manager. Petty's royalties were frozen by promoter Manny Greenfield, and Petty could not pay his royalties to Holly, who blamed his manager. Holly fired Petty in December 1958; the Crickets decided to keep Petty as manager and Holly left the band.

In need of money, Holly assembled a new band consisting of future country music icon Waylon Jennings (bass) and Tommy Allsup (guitar), and embarked on a tour of the Midwestern U.S. After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered an airplane to travel to his next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed, killing Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and the pilot.

During his short career, Holly wrote, recorded and produced his own material. He is often regarded as the act that defined the traditional rock-and-roll lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. Holly was a major influence on later popular music artists and bands, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John. He was among the first acts to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and later ranked by Rolling Stone at number thirteen on its list of "100 Greatest Artists".   wikipedia


The Texas Music Office has excellent resources about Texas music

Famous Texan musicians and groups include Bob Wills/Texas Playboys/Light Crust Doughboys, Milton Brown/Musical Brownies/Light Crust Doughboys, T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Charlie Christian, Red Garland, Eddie Durham, Albert Collins, Blind Willie Johnson, Johnny Copeland, Z.Z. Hill, Pee Wee Crayton, Harry Choates, Lightnin' Hopkins, Gatemouth Brown, Leadbelly, Big Mama Thorton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey, Mance Lipscomb, Scott Joplin, Hot Lips Page, Gene Ramey, Jack Teagarden, Teddy Wilson, Kenny Dorham, Ella Mae Morse, Charles Brown, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Leon Payne, Tex Ritter, Roger Miller, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Johnny Horton, George Strait, Jim Reeves, Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Ray Price, Doug Sahm/Sir Douglas Quintet/Texas Tornados, Clifton Chenier, T-Bone Burnett, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Taylor[disambiguation needed], Lydia Mendoza, Flaco Jimenez, Santiago Jimenez Sr., Beto Villa, Narcisco Martinez, Archie Bell & the Drells, Dustin Adams, Johnny Guitar Watson, Yolanda Adams, Ornette Coleman, King Curtis, Mickey Newbury, Phil Ochs, Townes Van Zandt, Selena Quintanilla, Pantera, Steve Miller Band, Boz Scaggs, Charlie Sexton, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, Eric Johnson Template:Grammy winning songwriter Glenn Douglas Tubb Meat Loaf and many others.


National (also Texas related)

Thanks to the internet, I learned that the Dad of one of my classmates from Alpine, Texas was an early musician who toured around the country and was part of one of the first music groups to record for the movies.. I knew Ron Hunter's Dad, Charles Huinter (left - promo photo for Charles Hunter - nick name "Iron Tail"), as a photographer in Alpine. However his music history was new to me. Here is some information Ron agreed to share with our Museum. - Martin Theophilus, MOMSR Board President

"Dad formed the Arizona Wranglers in 1928, he and his band moved to Hollywood where they began broadcasting on a regular schedule on radio station KNX. The group toured up and down the west coast for several years and they were in a number of western movies. Dad is playing the banjo in this pic (left) but he played a number of instruments during his entertainment career. They even toured with Roscoe Turner, a famous aviator, in his Lockheed 3 Air Express. That's dad on the right (center). The guys in suits are the California governor, second from right, next to dad and a state senator, second from left. It was taken in 1932. (right)  This is the touring car the band used to travel along the west coast. I'm not sure who the lady is..."- Ron Hunter


 Charles Hunter "Iron Tail" appeared in the movie "Stormy" as one of the Arizona Wrangler singing cowboys. He also appeared as a renegade (uncredited) in Custer's Last Stand.

We also found the following information on Charles Hunter's band, the Arizona Wranglers at B-Westerns 


"Why are the Arizona Wranglers and the various permutations important to the B-western? There's several answers ... or at least some conjecture for you to ponder. They were among the first groups to appear in the early years of the sound western. Second, there were many future B-western performers and regulars who worked with the group(s) such as Glenn Strange, Arkansas Johnny Luther, Jack Kirk, Jack Jones, Chuck Baldra and "Cactus Mack" McPeters. Lastly, I am not suggesting that the Wranglers were the cause of the later singin' western, nor did they create that unique piece of the genre. But their western movie work - as well as music and songs in westerns from a few other groups - probably had some impact on the development of the singing western - i.e., "Let's try somethin' new - along with the guys singing around the campfire, let's get the hero to sing!".

part-talkie is a partly, and most often primarily, silent film which includes one or more synchronous sound sequences with audible dialog or singing. During the silent portions lines of dialog are presented as "titles" -- printed text briefly filling the screen—and the soundtrack is used only to supply musical accompaniment and sound effects.

In the case of feature films made in the United States, nearly all such hybrid films date to the 1927-1929 period of transition from "silents" to full-fledged "talkies" with audible dialog throughout. It took about a year and a half for a transition period for American movie houses to move from almost all silent to almost all equipped for sound In the interim period, studios reacted by improvising four solutions: fast remakes of recent productions, "goat gland" pictures with one or two sound sequences spliced into already finished productions, dual sound and silent versions produced simultaneously, and part-talkies.

The famous so-called "first talking picture", The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson, is in fact a part-talkie. It features only about fifteen minutes of singing and talking, interspersed throughout the film, while the rest is a typical silent film with "titles" and only a recorded orchestral accompaniment.

In the 1920s, Phonofilm and other early motion picture sound systems employed optical recording technology, in which the audio signal was graphically recorded on photographic film.

The amplitude variations comprising the signal were used to modulate a light source which was imaged onto the moving film through a narrow slit, allowing the signal to be photographed as variations in the density or width of a "sound track". The projector used a steady light and a photoelectric cell to convert these variations back into an electrical signal, which was amplified and sent to loudspeakers behind the screen.

Ironically, the introduction of "talkies" was spearheaded by The Jazz Singer (1927), which used the Vitaphone sound-on-disc - (right A Vitaphone projection setup at a 1926 demonstration. Engineer E. B. Craft is holding a soundtrack disc. The turntable, on a massive tripod base, is at lower center.)

Vitaphone was a sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931. Vitaphone was the last major analog sound-on-disc system and the only one which was widely used and commercially successful. The soundtrack was not printed on the film itself, but issued separately on phonograph records. The discs, recorded at 33 1/3 rpm (a speed first used for this system) and typically 16 inches in diameter, would be played on a turntable physically coupled to the projector motor while the film was being projected. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer (1927), used the Vitaphone system. The name "Vitaphone" derived from the Latin and Greek words, respectively, for "living" and "sound".  The "Vitaphone" trademark was later associated with cartoons and other short subjects that had optical soundtracks and did not use discs. Robert G. Metzner 1938 CalTech

Our Museum interviewed Robert G. Metzner (01/17/17 - 12/21/2014) in Beverly Hills in 2012. Mr. Metzner (right) founded Pacific Sound Equipment Company and provided portable 16 inch transcription turntable players to salesmen who marketed their 16 inch discs to the film industry. When WW II began his company provided transcription turntables and other A/V products to the US military during WW II. The company ceased to exist when the war ended. VIDEO

The Phonoscène  (left) was an antecedent of music video and was regarded by Michel Chion, Noël Burch and Richard Abel as a forerunner of sound film. The first Phonoscènes were presented by Léon Gaumont in 1902 in France. The first official presentation in the United Kingdom took place at Buckingham Palace in 1907  The last phonoscène was presented in 1917.)system rather than an optical soundtrack. Optical sound became the standard motion picture audio system throughout the world and remains so for theatrical release prints despite attempts in the 1950s to substitute magnetic soundtracks. Currently, all release prints on 35 mm film include an analog optical soundtrack, usually stereo with Dolby SR noise reduction. In addition, an optically recorded digital soundtrack in Dolby Digital and/or Sony SDDS form is likely to be present. An optically recorded timecode is also commonly included to synchronise CDROMs that contain a DTS soundtrack.

This period also saw several other historic developments including the introduction of the first practical magnetic sound recording system, the magnetic wire recorder,which was based on the work ofDanish inventor Valdemar Poulsen. Magnetic wire recorders were effective, but the sound quality was poor, so between the wars they were primarily used for voice recording and marketed as business dictating machines.

In 1924 a German engineer, Dr. Kurt Stille, developed the Poulsen wire recorder as a dictating machine. The following year, Ludwig Blattner began work that eventually produced theBlattnerphone (left) enhancing it to use steel tape instead of wire. The BBC started using Blattnerphones in 1930 to record radio programmes. In 1933 radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi's (right) company purchased the rights to the Blattnerphone (left), and newly developed Marconi-Stille recorders were installed in the BBC's Maida Vale Studios in March 1935.  The tape used in Blattnerphones and Marconi-Stille recorders was the same material used to make razor blades, and not surprisingly the fearsome Marconi-Stille recorders were considered so dangerous that technicians had to operate them from another room for safety. Because of the high recording speeds required, they used enormous reels about one metre in diameter,and the thin tape frequently broke, sending jagged lengths of razor steel flying around the studio. The K1 Magnetophon was thefirst practical tape recorder, developed by AEG in Germany in 1935.

Alan Lomax's surplus recording equipment - 2013  view listings pdf

On Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 6:42 PM, Martin Theophilus wrote:
In reviewing tape recorder listing's on eBay, I saw your listing of Alan Lomax's personal Tandberg Model Series 92F tape recorder.  

As I'm sure you are very aware, Alan Lomax was born in Austin, Texas and many of his recordings were completed in Texas.  For this reason, I wanted to share information about our Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording which will be located in Austin.   We are in the very early stages of creating a permanent non-profit public facility which will be dedicated to preserving the technology of magnetic sound recording.

Our major goal is to not only to preserve and restore the recording devices that are of historical significance, but also the innovators who created the technology, the manufacturers of the devices and the musicians, broadcasters and others who created great recordings.

Don Fleming - Association for Cultural Equity wrote: Hi Martin,

I want to assure you that all of Alan's important field equipment, is either already at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, or we are keeping it.  We're still have the Nagra reel-to-reel that he used in the Caribbean. The American Folklife Center at the LOC had several opportunities to look over the equipment, and in 2006 they acquired his Magnecord tape deck that he used in the 1940's and his Ampex 2 track deck. The 2 tape decks that are being sold were models that were used in the archive for playback and not used to make field recordings. And in fact a good deal of the audio equipment, as it states in the individual postings, was purchased after Alan retired, for use in our preservation work. Of course all the recordings that Alan and his father made in Austin were done on acetate, before tape was available, so there is no tape deck from that time. 

That said, I'm very glad that you are interested in them and it would be great to find something pertinent that we could donate to your museum. I did have a great preliminary conversation with DonPitts and Michael McGill about trying to develop some projects to bring Alan's Austin connection to light. I had suggested in an earlier email that a meeting in Austin be arranged sometime. Alan's daughter, Anna Lomax Wood, splits her time between Marshall, TX and New York. They brought Casey into the discussion and I sent him, Don and Michael an email last July with a pretty complete list of the John A., Ruby, Alan and Elizabeth recordings and photographs from TX - 1908 to 1948. I thought I would hear back, and as far as I can tell the trail stoped at that point, but I am eager to continue the dialog. 

We would love to plan something special on the the centennial date of Alan's birth in Austin on January 31, 2015, and could build the momentum towards that with other events in Austin. Is your museum open yet? Perhaps we could figure out an event at the museum and donation as a build-up to his centennial birthday.


Alan Lomax (January 31, 1915 – July 19, 2002) was one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, Alan Lomaxscholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker. Lomax also produced recordings, concerts, and radio shows in the US and in England, which played an important role in both the American and British folk revivals of the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. During the New Deal, with his father, famed folklorist and collector John A. Lomax and later alone and with others, Lomax recorded thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.

After 1942, when Congress cut off the Library of Congress's funding for folk song collecting, Lomax continued to collect independently in Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain, as well as the United States, using the latest recording technology, assembling an enormous collection of American and international culture. In March 2004 the material captured and produced without Library of Congress funding was acquired by the Library, which 'brings the entire seventy years of Alan Lomax's work together under one roof at the Library of Congress, where it has found a permanent home.' With the start of the Cold War, Lomax continued to speak out for a public role for folklore, even as academic folklorists turned inward. He devoted much of the latter part of his life to advocating what he called Cultural Equity, which he sought to put on a solid theoretical foundation through to his Cantometrics research (which included a prototype Cantometrics-based educational program, the Global Jukebox). In the 1970s and 1980s Lomax advised the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival and produced a series of films about folk music, American Patchwork, which aired on PBS in 1991. In his late seventies, Lomax completed a long-deferred memoir, The Land Where the Blues Began (1995), linking the birth of the blues to debt peonage, segregation, and forced labor in the American South.

George Jones playing guitar as a young boy on porch in Beaumont, Texas

Traces of Texas reader Lynne Graves graciously forwarded this ASTOUNDING photo of George Jones playing guitar as a young boy on her husband's grandmother's porch in Beaumont, Texas. Her husband's uncle and George used to play together as boys. Lynne's husband's mother is the little girl on the right corner of the photo and Lynne's husband's uncle is the boy playing guitar with George. George looks to be about 13 years old so this photo is circa 1944. Look at the SHEER JOY on these kid's faces! Traces of Texas




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