[78-L] Playing reels backwards - separating myth from fact

Joe Salerno jsalerno at collector.org.invalid
Mon Feb 8 06:20:47 PST 2016

I did something similar but with my first open reel toy machine. My 
sister and  both got one for Christmas one year. I could play a tape 
backwards easily enough without having to open a cassette shell. For the 
good old days.....

I started with simple words, like "cat" because of the hard consonants 
at the head and the foot. After I learned it backwards I would record it 
and reverse the tape, thus re-reversing it. I noticed the difference in 
the attack altho the word made sense enuff.

Then I would record 78s and listen to them backwards, and every once in 
a while there would be a fragment of a melody that sounded melodious 
backwards as well as forwards. There was a little fragment from the 
Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 like that, about 5 notes long. F-F-Gb-F-Ab IIRC. 
Then one day I Was listening to the radio and heard those 5 notes within 
the context of some song! So now I wonder if industrial composers used 
that kind of reverse technique for inspiration.

Joe Salerno

On 2/8/2016 2:23 AM, Iñigo Cubillo wrote:
> Talking about that, it reminds the old experiments I used to do with my old
> cassette player when child... I even got my father involved in the issue...
> Reassembling cassette tapes upside-down I managed to play them in reverse,
> by the opposite face, of course, with the unavoidable lack of treble,
> but... anyway it worked. I had lots of laugh listening to my favorites
> backwards... Of course, I used to do that with 78s too, moving the
> turntable with the finger. One of my favorites was Bing Crosby's "Amor
> Amor", which in reverse mode was a quiet strange song ending in a sort of
> Bing's braying "Romaaa... Romaaaa... Romaaa...". Very nice. But that's
> another story.
> The true thing with the reversed tapes arrived when I started to record
> backwards, then reassemble the tape in direct mode to hear the results...
> Nice...!
> The next idea was to read a text backwards (strange business in which I
> really got thoroughly trained) while recording backwards, then reverse the
> tape and listen to the results... Heavy uncontrolled laughing here...!
> And there I got my father involved... helping me to read poems backwards,
> one chorus each one, in turn... Bursts into laughter were unavoidable while
> reading backwards, which in reverse (direct mode) sounded like barking
> dogs... No need to say that, apart from the strange voices and
> vocalization, we sounded slow and clumsy... And when you made a mistake,
> then corrected it... the result was that you say it well first, then
> correct it to wrong...!
> ...
> I've played this too with my children, few years ago. We used the old
> Windows Sound Recorder that allowed reversing the WAV soundfiles, etc. They
> were amazed and we had a great time singing songs in reverse, which we
> learnt by heart. If you read it is easier... but if you learn by heart and
> then repeat from memory, mistakes are more frequent, which is much more
> funny. Imagine the difficulty tryin'g to learn a song in reverse, melody
> included...
> Inigo, from Madrid, SPAIN
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