[78-L] USO records

Kristjan Saag saag at telia.com.invalid
Thu Oct 5 03:43:07 PDT 2017

These old private recordings are of great interest for linguists!
In the 1930' and 40's there were no home tape recorders or hobby sound 
film cameras, so the only way to preserve your voice was on acetate 
discs. AFAIK the home disc cutter never got big - you had to make your 
recordings in the commercial studios that offered such. Here in Sweden 
there were simple recording booths in some amusement parks, where people 
dropped in and recorded whatever happened to be on their mind. Usually 
they had been eating and drinking and were in good spirits, it's quite 
amusing to listen to those recordings.
The reason the linguists are interested is that most of the documentary 
recordings that were made at the time were made in rural areas, to 
preserve the sound of more or less out-dying dialects. City dialects, at 
least in Sweden, were not mapped in the same way. Using early sound film 
for language studies doesn't work - the way actors spoke was always 
coloured by their role profiles and the  general understanding of how 
one was meant to speak. Singing, of course, didn't work either.
I actually interviewed some linguists about this for a radio programme a 
few years ago and presented a couple of private recordings from the 
1930's for them. They regretted that our "Library Of Congress", the 
National Library in Stockholm, who collects all commercial recordings 
made in Swedish and/or in Sweden, haven't collected private recordings. 
Usually, when collections were obtained by the library, all non-Swedish 
commercial discs and all private discs were disposed of.

On 2017-10-05 08:43, Inigo Cubillo wrote:
> Not by war vets, but I've also come thru the years across several 
> private recordings. I remember a big translucent red acetate covered 
> aluminium disc, spoken by a Jesuitic priest, who is giving notice of 
> his adventures to his relatives in Basque Country, Spain, specially to 
> his mother. It seems he was at a catholic mission somewhere in South 
> America, and instead of writing a letter, he recorded an acetate and 
> sent it to Spain. I have another similar record, but don't remember 
> now who speaks about what. Another one is a black acetate covered 
> aluminium disc from the recording services of Radio Nacional de 
> España. This is sung by a man, with piano accompaniment, and both 
> sides have announcements at the start. One of the songs (a well-known 
> lyric piece) is dedicated to the boss of the singer... a government 
> employee at the Customs Services. The singers are identified in the 
> labels, as also is the supposed receiver, spoken in the announcements. 
> I have another one with an unidentified artist playing two piano 
> pieces. I've come across several others, but each time I found them, I 
> only picked one or two from the lot, to satisfy my curiosity, leaving 
> back the others... Regards, Inigo Cubillo Madrid, SPAIN 
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