First multitrack location recording ever?
elyr
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#1
14th February 2013
Old 14th February 2013
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First multitrack location recording ever?

Hi All,
I have a question for the historians out there, which is proving quite challenging to answer.

What is the first instance of multitrack live recording ever?

At first I thought it might be The Rolling Stones "got LIVE if you want it!" produced by Glyn Johns in 1965, but I suspect location recordings by RCA or Decca might have recorded in concert halls in front of a live audience. To clarify, I am NOT referring to multi-mic'ing and recording to stereo.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Publications of any kind, including technical papers documenting this, would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance!
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15th February 2013
Old 15th February 2013
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15th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elyr View Post
Hi All,
I have a question for the historians out there, which is proving quite challenging to answer.

What is the first instance of multitrack live recording ever?

At first I thought it might be The Rolling Stones "got LIVE if you want it!" produced by Glyn Johns in 1965, but I suspect location recordings by RCA or Decca might have recorded in concert halls in front of a live audience. To clarify, I am NOT referring to multi-mic'ing and recording to stereo.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Publications of any kind, including technical papers documenting this, would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance!
I suspect that Robert Fine's "mobile" studio was probably the first Multitrack recording system in that it had 3 tracks, (around 1958), however, I'm taking a guess that is not quite what you meant.

I suspect that the Rolling Stones Mobile probably did the first "live" multitrack recordings. Originally 8 track it was upgraded to 16 around 1969-1970. you mentioned Decca, however, they were known for a direct to two track approach, even for opera. Deutsche Gramophone multitracked, but not that early to my knowledge.

Hope this helps.
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15th February 2013
Old 15th February 2013
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Yes, Bob Fine and his 10,000 Valve Chevvy mobile had a Westrex 3 track 35mm Mag sprocket recorder and two Ampex stereos in the late 50's.
And it was indeed mobile,he brought it to the UK with his wife, to record English orchestras,aided by his wife and the great Bob Auger.
Westrex had 3 track portable mag recorders in trucks for movie recording,these ran on interlock systems with the 35mm camera,and were probably the first mobile multis in the late 40s.
Disney used multi track optical 35mm recorders for Fantasia in 1939,these were 'transportable' not portable, but could be the first location multitracks.
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15th February 2013
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16th February 2013
Old 16th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
If you want to count stereo as multitrack, and I think that is fair, there is a Duke Ellington recording from the '30's where two mics were on feeding two recorders:

1932 Duke Ellington Stereo: Was It Unheard-of Experiment Or Accident? - Chicago Tribune

First stereo sound recording
Makes me think about the Ellington Fargo, ND 1940 recording made by two amateurs who were cutting lacquer on the dance floor--remarkable recording given the limitations of 78 rpm home recording technology.
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16th February 2013
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elyr
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16th February 2013
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Wow, fantastic! Thanks everyone!
I have been doing some digging into the first portable recording equipment. Looks like the first portable recorder to go into production was a Magnemite, developed by sound recordist and Cornell researcher Peter Paul Kellogg. Kellogg would go on to record for Moses Asch's Folkways label. Also, the first commercial stereo records were made by Emory Cook, whose collection is now sold by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Pretty cool finds I think!
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16th February 2013
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That was only in America and full track mono
The Germans had transportable stereo in 43.
Kudelski had full track portable mono in 51.
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17th February 2013
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17th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elyr View Post
Also, the first commercial stereo records were made by Emory Cook, whose collection is now sold by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Pretty cool finds I think!
True, but a different principle. Two sets of mono tracks and a special adapter for your phono arm to carry the second phono cartridge half the record over. I had some, I may still have. Emory Cook was a strange bird living in Stamford, CT. One of his records was Speed the Parting Guest and was a collection of quasi musical cacaphony. The cartridge was a clip on. See here: Emory Cook binaural

And as the page notes, he was buddy-buddy with Rudy Bozak who built enormous infinite baffle speakers. Cook eventually built one in the ground by his house in Stamford which was huge and handle just the bass nots, It was a "folder horn" of cast cement.
elyr
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17th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
That was only in America and full track mono
The Germans had transportable stereo in 43.
Kudelski had full track portable mono in 51.
Could you tell me a bit more about the transportable stereo that was developed in Germany?
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17th February 2013
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elyr
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17th February 2013
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Wow, this is all great. Does anyone know of a web site or publication that has consolidated all of these recording innovations?
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17th February 2013
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18th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
That was only in America and full track mono
The Germans had transportable stereo in 43.
Kudelski had full track portable mono in 51.
Rolo, OP asked for first multitrack location recording. America still counts as a location to some of us so that does not disqualify the Ellington recording nor was there a requirement that it be tape, with both tracks on the same tape. You are changing the rules.
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18th February 2013
Old 18th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Rolo, OP asked for first multitrack location recording. America still counts as a location to some of us so that does not disqualify the Ellington recording nor was there a requirement that it be tape, with both tracks on the same tape. You are changing the rules.
Sorry Sandy ,
The Ellington is just a lucky accident,two lathes running unlocked and staying just in sync ,compared to 2 tracks locked on one roll of magnetic tape and using a dedicated stereo mic feed (what array did they use ?),also doing this in the midsts of 1000 bomber raids deserves notice!
Roger
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19th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Sorry Sandy ,
The Ellington is just a lucky accident,two lathes running unlocked and staying just in sync ,compared to 2 tracks locked on one roll of magnetic tape and using a dedicated stereo mic feed (what array did they use ?),also doing this in the midsts of 1000 bomber raids deserves notice!
Roger
Roger, I don't deny that. The Germans were very clever with the technology and we all built on it. When someone was trying to explain magnetic tape to Congress one congressman said, "You mean it's just barn paint on a piece of plastic?" Well, as a matter of fact that's just what it is. LOL Bless his heart to be able to get to the nubbin of it.

But, accident or not, it seems the correct answer to OP's question. It was a bit of serendipity, and no one knew for decades. Oh, well. What else awaits us? After all, did Fleming plan penicillin or stumble onto it? If he had eaten his lunches in the cafeteria we might never have had such a wonderful medicine.

Cheers
elyr
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19th February 2013
Old 19th February 2013
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Thanks again everyone, this are really interesting events you've dug up. The Ellington recording especially: it might not be the first intentional multi track, but it's certainly a valuable anecdote!
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