1959: Today at the 30th Street Studio

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Jan 15, 2019.

  1. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    It's audible on Horowitz recordings at 30th St. from 1962 to 1973 - not all (eg Liszt - Consolation in E major, recorded in May 1962) but on his 30th St. recordings in the colder months spanning the whole decade you can hear the characteristic rumble...

    Here's a January 1973 example:

    Schubert - Impromptu in A-flat major, Op. 142, No. 2

    November 1962 example:

    Schumann - Kinderszenen, Op. 15: No. 10, Fast zu ernst

    May 1962 - no characteristic rumble:

    Liszt - Consolation in E Major, S. 172 (R. 12) , No. 2

    It has not been removed in mastering either originally or in the modern era.
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  2. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    Shoot, why didn't I just ask you? Good find.

    So regarding the 1/3 octave filters vs. equalizer: is WDR's stuff all passive, using inductors, capacitors, and resistors vs. active circuits like we use now (or did before digital)?

    Looking at the faceplates in this one


    First, they are all cut only, so that implies but doe not guarantee passive filters. The upper EQ is simply a much more elaborate bass/treble control, with no boost, while the bottom one seems to be full 1/3 octave but nothing below 64?Hz (can't quite read the numbers, but the first one is two digits and the second one is three, to my eye) and nothing above twelve thousand and some Hertz. So between the two units they cover the spectrum that we now take for granted is covered by one equalizer. Interesting from today's perspective, and revolutionary back then. (Anybody able to date that picture? 1971 like the other one?)

    The scales on each start at 0 at the top (unity gain), while the bottom number is something like -60, presumably 60 db down from unity. Since modern EQ's are something like +/- 15 db, or even less, one wonders the benefit of being able to take out 60db of a frequency range, and knowing how filter slopes are not vertical in real life devices, it would be fun to see a SIM or SMAART measurement of the actual response of those filters. And wouldn't they ring like crazy at extreme cut?

    Off topic for this thread but still interesting to me.
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  3. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    I'm not denying the furnace noise, I'm just ignorant of the 30th St recordings with/without the problem. Before modern digital noise removal, I'd think you -might- filter a flamenco guitar record, but are pretty much forced to leave the lows in for a piano recording, or risk poor tone. I can only conjecture why a modern flamenco reissue would leave rumble in.
  4. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    These filters show up in 1966 photos of the WDR studio. I'm certain you can eventually find out all about them with enough searching. If only we could read those nameplates.....Audiowerk Fernseh AG? (Audio and TV Co?).
  5. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't know...I can barely hear any issues. Certainly nothing I would consider "serious". Which makes me question that Amazon reviewer.
  6. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    The reviewer pointed out that you need a playback system with some serious low end capability, which is why I'm not listening to Mal's welcome examples on my laptop speakers.
  7. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

  8. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    We all have different priorities - I actually enjoy hearing this background stuff...

    Here on this DECCA recording there is some bird song audible in the quiet passages:

    Vladimir Ashkenazy: Rachmaninov - Prelude, Op. 3, No. 2

    Recorded at All Saints Church, Petersham (c. 1974)

    All Saints' Church, Petersham, London - Wikipedia

    Now a private residence (see here):

  9. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    That's great!

    On the Funky Junk page, he gets the functions of the two units backwards: "The large unit underneath provides high and low cut and boost and the smaller unit above is midrange." There's also NO boost, unless you start with everything X db down from unity. (I get things backwards, too, so I can't be too hard on him.)

    You gotta love this EQ curve, though, from his Flickr page: DSC01125

    He has succeeded in taking the overall signal level down a minimum of 34 dB, if the device is doing what the front panel says, thus taking line level down to mic level, and is reducing some of the frequencies as much as 26 dB more and killing two frequencies altogether which may be called for. It would be fun to see a phase plot of the resulting signal. I'm guessing the rotary pot is make-up gain for the cut-only, but it's set at 0 so the overall signal gain would be what I said, probably. "Probably" because I've never seen or used one and am guessing.

    Still, it's beautifully built; the wipers and many coils in there are wonderful to see, as are the sturdy slider knob assemblies (locking? to preserve your exact settings). It again makes one appreciate that we can have the equivalent of 40 of those in a box that weighs less than this one, and does a whole lot more, too.

    Nice finds!
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  10. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    I haven't found a manual or schematic for the Albis, but it looks like completely old-school RLC filters, and likely an amplifier for makeup gain. The sliders appear to be like radio dials with dial cords. The center frequencies certainly predate the ISO center frequencies. The panel has Hz AND CPS.

    I like it - people usually screw things up with boost.

    I think you'd have to call it active since it plugs into the wall and has gain. I can't recall when the active gyrator circuit was invented, which simulated the inductors. AFAIK, all modern analog designs (that aren't trying to be retro) now use gyrators instead of inductors, and along with op-amp ICs, allowed the small cheap EQs we all knew - until digital.
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  11. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    Yes about boost, except that boosting when trying to find problems allows you to hear the problem easier. I had a cut-only 1/3 octave EQ for a while (UREI) but didn't like it because it was harder to find problems. Cut-only during the shows is the way to go except for broadband minor boosts like all the highs or all the lows if needed, IMO.

    When I first saw the pictures of all those inductors I thought, Hey, this thing doesn't even need to be plugged into the wall except to power the "ON" light. Then when he showed the really skookum power supply I was confused, until seeing the 0-36 dial which could only be make-up gain, and thus the power supply made sense.

    Thanks again for finding all that.
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  12. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Judging by the Horowitz recordings, the rumble is somewhat broad - the precise profile reproduced will depend upon the positioning, direction/pattern and frequency response of the microphone(s) used as well as the frequency response (including any intentional roll off) of the recording/mastering/playback chains. If the rumble is generated by the furnace and/or ancillary equipment then there may be different settings used at different times and the operating characteristics of the system may have been modified over time, again resulting in a different profile on playback.

    If the rumble is present I imagine it would be difficult to effectively remove without having some impact on the sound even on recordings of musical content which isn't as low in frequency range as a Steinway Model D (starts at 27.5 Hz - not the lowest instrument but getting there). Also, there are sounds produced from playing instruments that aren't musical notes that might be compromised - such as the rhythmic sounds involved in flamenco guitar (eg. using the body of the guitar as a drum).

    Another thing to consider is that maybe the low end captured on the master wasn't reproduced quite so clearly on the original playback equipment at 30th St. or at home as it is on modern equipment (allowing an improved LF response for both transfer/mastering and home playback). In any case, most people who would have cared back then probably had a rumble filter on their amp if they wanted to attenuate the rumble to some degree.

    Of course, I can't be sure that it is furnace rumble on these Horowitz recordings although it does seem like a reasonable explanation. It's also worth noting that I've not heard the specific Sabicas recordings being reviewed so I don't know if the rumble being complained about on there is of the same nature as what is heard on the affected Horowitz recordings.
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  13. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    January 28 (continued):

    For the sake of completeness, I realized that I should have posted album covers from the David Tudor Klavierstucke recording sessions. However, when I look for them I find nothing that wasn't recorded in WDR or in Switzerland.

    Will those who have demonstrated their admirable adeptness at searching please look for that?
  14. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    January 29:

    There were two sessions today:

    - Jimmy Mundy, who we've met already, was in with His Orchestra from 7-10:30pm;
    - Stan Freeman, who we haven't met here yet, was in with His Orchestra from 2:30-5:30pm, and they recorded

    -Stella by Starlight

    Except for but maybe including the last one, do you see a pattern there?

    That's right, they're all women's names and are part of an album called "Piano Sweethearts".



    Those were the only images I could find.

    Stan Freeman was on a LOT of studio sessions in 30th St. as a sideman, and he was not only that, he was a composer, actor, performer, and more. I just read a quote in his Playbill obituary in which a friend said that Stan "never got famous in one area because he tacked so many things". He did a solo show in which he portrayed Oscar Levant; if you find that please post a link.

    These bios on Wikipedia and Space Age Pop show different parts of his talents, but all mention his harpsichord solos in Rosemary Clooney's Come on-a My House, a smash recording of the early Mitch Miller years.

    Here's a video:

    Hey, why is it on RCA? It was a Columbia project, and they were still arch-enemies today although they're both owned by Sony today.

    Anyway, the makeup of His Orchestra today was interesting; there's a lot of names that, at this stage of my archive perusal, I don't recognize as being common players at 30th St. You can see how many you recognize:

    Leader and piano: Stan Freeman
    Contractor: Rufus Smith
    Cello: Sidney Edward
    Violin: Jesse Tryon; Herbert Sorkin; Leonard Posner; George Berg; George Grossman; Harry Urbont
    Drums: Frank Garisto, Jr.
    Bass: Sam A. Bruno
    French Horn: James Buffington (he was at 30th St. a lot)
    Instruments Unknown: Raymond Shiner; Spencer Sinatra

    Thanks for all the comments and likes! I'm feeling good about this thread although I can't keep it up as is.
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  15. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    I don't know when this will happen, but I have an FFT analyzer (Meyer SIM) and will playback the recordings you linked to and my soon-arriving Sabicas CD and do an "accumulate" frequency response graph and post it here. It would be fun if we could see a frequency anomaly profile that lined up across recordings.

    That may need to wait until after tax season, though. If someone has SMAART and some time, that will be quicker. The results should be the same.
    Mal likes this.
  16. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    I have a suspicion that the Tudor sessions on January 28, 1959 were never released.

    See this from Gordon Mumma's book, "Cybersonic Arts: Adventures in American New Music (Univ of Illinois Press)"

    page 146
    "In 1967 Tudor was under pressure from Columbia Records to re-record Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klavierstucke at their 30th Street studio to replace Tudor's earlier recording, which had proved unusable due to defective tape."

    Boy, I bet 3M got an earful.

    Also, like you I'm unable to find the piece released on Columbia by him.
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  17. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    One wonders what the whole story is, as that seems pretty unlikely for a number of reasons.
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  18. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    The possibilities are wide, and have likely gone to the grave. Tape mistakenly erased? Recorder misthreaded? Forgot to take off "safe" mode? Bad performance?

    I could believe something like bad slitting for tape width. Very rare and not always immediately obvious, but disastrous.

    You could ask Mumma; Wikipedia says he live in Victoria B.C. Canada!
    Gordon Mumma
    He's even got a photo of himself with my friend Stuart Dempster, hmmmm.
  19. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Performance seems like the only reasonable possibility, since the session would have been recorded with 2 3-track machines and at least 1 mono machine. That all 3 would be unusable seems extremely unlikely.
  20. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    I sent email to Stuart Dempster to see if he is in contact with Mumma for any possible clarification. Of course, stuff like that may be a personal secret.
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  21. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Stu Dempster replies that he thinks if Mumma wrote that in his book, that would be the case, being a "somewhat fastidious" sort. Stu didn't offer to press the issue for us, saying he hadn't talked to Gordon for several years, but gave me a couple of email addresses (one of which is the one publicly shown on Mumma's home page). I don't really feel like pursuing it; if there is some other reason than bad tape, they probably want to keep it to themselves.

    Stu recorded Terry Riley/In C in 1968 and Andrew Imbrie/Three Sketches (maybe 1970), both at 30th St. for New World Records.
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  22. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    There were no sessions on January 30 or 31, but there was a page misfiled in the archives so I'm going to talk about that today.

    On January 27, there was a session from 11pm to 2am the next day, with:
    - Polly Bergen the actress, singer, TV and Broadway star, and human dynamo;
    - Johnny Desmond, singer and TV and Broadway star;
    - with Glen Osser and His Orchestra.

    Songs recorded were:

    - I Feel Sorry for the Boy (Bergen)
    - He Didn't Call (Bergen)
    - Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye (Desmond)

    The first and third songs were from the Broadway musical "First Impressions", which I believe had not yet started its run (the 30th St session for the OCR would be on March 22nd). Bergen was in the cast, but on the OCR this song was sung by Phyllis Newman and Donald Madden, and was called I Feel Sorry for the Girl.

    None of these songs appeared on an album until the "I Feel Sorry" one was added to the expanded edition CD of Bergen's "My Heart Sings" CD in 2017.

    Here is the song on Youtube:

    I'm afraid that my interest lasted only 30 seconds; Columbia put out a huge amount of what I consider schmaltz, and this is a heaping portion IMHO.

    Ignoring the music, there is still much to be learned from this session. I'm going to list the orchestra members so you can see some names (FWIW I don't recognize a lot of these yet, either):

    Abe Osser (see the link as to why he's both Glenn and Abe)
    Arnold Eidus
    Max Cahn
    Leo Kahn
    Ralph Silverman
    Gene Orloff
    Anthony DiGirolimo
    Julius Held
    Harry Lookofsky
    Marc Brown
    Leonard Posner
    Leo Kruczek
    David Montague
    Isadore Zir
    Archie Levin (that's quite the ratio of violins to violas!)
    George Ricci
    Maurice Brown
    Frank Carroll*
    Marggret (sic) Ross
    Buddy Weed*
    Herbert Lovelle
    George Gaber
    Al Caiola*
    Al Casamenti*
    John Pizzerelli*
    Bernie Glow
    James Moreale
    Jack Moreale
    Bob Byrne
    William Byers
    Charles Small
    Toots Mondello*
    Joe Small
    Joe Palmer
    Herman Yorks
    Irving Horowitz

    ......*These are all people who I know to be prolific session players, and undoubtedly there are many more who I should know.

    That's 34 players by my count, so not a full symphony but still a pretty significant amount of people which only took up a part of the available space.

    My hope is that someday someone will be searching the Internet and see the name of a grandfather or -mother and provide some more information about them and their lives.

    Lastly, here are the labels of the 45's that I could find, courtesy of Discogs again:



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  23. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Senior Member

    New York, NY
    Great thread! My friend's dad, Jack Greenberg, was a 1950s/1960s NYC session man who played sax and other reeds, so I'm hoping his name pops up at some point.
    DMortensen likes this.
  24. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Seattle, WA USA
    I think that starting in February I will dial my contribution back from schedule, songs, musicians, background, plus explanations and links, and just post musicians, songs, and times. If people can step up and post links explaining who people were and what they did, as well as what albums/45's the music came out on, then that will further our purposes and let me do some other things that I need to.

    I DO want to continue to show the life of the studio during that great year of its life,
    not only the great things but the mundane and forgettable as well.

  25. GLouie

    GLouie Forum Resident

    Small correction, the Riley was on Columbia, and the Imbrie, plus Robert Erickson’s "General Speech" were in 30th St. for New World Records.

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