SH Spotlight How the Warner Bros. Sound Dept. recorded the score for "THE MUSIC MAN" in multi-channel in 1961..

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, May 2, 2023.

  1. dunce

    dunce Local jester!

    Location:
    San Diego
    Totally fascinating. This type of ingenuity is missed!
     
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  2. kch27

    kch27 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin, Texas, USA
    Thanks so much for all the info. Saw this movie in its first run when I was a kid. Absolutely loved it. The brilliant Robert Preston, the delectable Shirley Jones, the writing and composing of Meredith Willson, Paul Ford, little Ronny Howard, top-rank barbershop quartet the Buffalo Bills… Truly entertaining.

    “I always think there’s a band, kid.”
     
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  3. Post-Punk Monk

    Post-Punk Monk Seeking divinity in records from '78-'85 or so…

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Hearing about this insane production chain is kind of breathtaking. In a way, it reminds me of a goof my pals and I did in 1980 when we were in high school. I had a friend with a rare video camera setup [tethered, back then - his family had a children's theatrical company] and he and I had a VHS and ßeta VCR respectively. We made stupid comedy videos to amuse ourselves and send to a friend attending school in another state… because we could. My friend had someone bring over their 1st gen ßeta VCR for some reason, which only recorded and played back in ßI speed - 1 hour on an L-500 tape. My VCR only recorded and played back at ßII/III for 90 min/3 hours on the same L-500 tape. We liked the song "Dog Eat Dog" by Adam + The Ants. While we had the 1st gen ßeta deck at our disposal, my pal formulated a cunning plan.

    • We would record "Dog Eat Dog" from my LP at 7.5 i.p.s. to reel-to-reel.
    • We played it back at 3.75 i.p.s. and recorded our voices singing along with the song pitched down an octave to the half-speed playback.
    • Dub that recording to cassette.
    • Videotape our performance miming the song with him in the Adam role and myself doing a Marco with an acoustic guitar on my ßeta VCR at ßII speed while the cassette played back and fed into the recording VCR as the audio signal.
    • Take the resulting tape and play it back in the other ßeta VCR that only played back at ßI speed, effectively halving the playback speed to take the audio to the point where the backing track and our movements were in normal speed, but the voices were pitched up to chipmunk levels.
    • Dub that playback to my VCR at ßII for the "master" of the video.
    It boggles my mind that my obsolete iPod Touch was also a HD video camera that is eons beyond what that tube-based, smeary camera we used back then was capable of. What broadcast video cameras were capable of! Kids today have it on a silver platter, but it's how we rolled without computers to enable it all, though I did have one back then; a Radio Shack CoCo. We sometimes programmed graphics for primitive paintbox video titles and could output via RCA video straight to videotape if needed. But not on this project.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2023
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  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    From the Ampex 300-4 four track reduction they mixed a stereo LP master and mono LP master at Radio Recorders for release.. Forgot to mention that..

    The Ampex four-track tape is now the only version in multi-channel that exists on this movie other than the print master. Would make a great surround sound release.
     
  5. Roanoke Park Indefinitely

    Roanoke Park Indefinitely Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for the info! This is my favorite musical and a top ten favorite film for me, not in least part because I love playing Harold Hill and played him in school.

    The Warner Bros soundtrack sounds thin and subpar to my ears. If you restored a better version, I’d love to hear it.
     
  6. jmxw

    jmxw Fab Forum Fan

    Reminds me of a routine my band-mates and I used to do back in the 80's:

    [In Monty-Python-esque Yorkshireman accent]
    Back when we started out recording, we had to bounce tracks from cassette deck to cassette deck! We didn't have those fancy Porta-studios like these posh kids have today, no sir! We had loads of tape hiss and we were grateful for it...
     
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  7. ChickenringNYC

    ChickenringNYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Are you talking the original Broadway albums or the original movie albums?
     
  8. Post-Punk Monk

    Post-Punk Monk Seeking divinity in records from '78-'85 or so…

    Location:
    North Carolina
    Sooner or later… we're all four Yorkshiremen!
     
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  9. Iowa Stubborn: " They could stand face to face and Never see eye-to-eye..."
     
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Movie sondtracks licensed from Warner Bros. Records (who were willing to do so for us).
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Thin and subpar, that sounds like the CD version, mixed incorrectly without using the above-mentioned Dolph Thomas EQ.

    My version sounds amazing, (if I do say so myself). I play it all the time..
     
  12. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan Senior Member

    Location:
    Oregon
    I assume you do not have a license for public performance, but it really is a shame more people cannot hear your version. It is a movie that is beloved by many, and the music is the reason. It really is too bad they canceled the project. I don't own a lot of movie soundtracks, but this is one I'd buy in a heartbeat.
     
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Eh, it's just the way it goes.

    I mean, Warner's was so nice to us, really before DCC Compact Classics, the odds of Warner/Reprise licensing an entire album to a small record label was 0 percent. But our boss and the WB people went way back so it was possible.

    Thing is, the price was the same for The Music Man or The Doors. So, we picked The Doors..
     
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  14. Gnome de Plume

    Gnome de Plume 12 HOT hits for a COOL penny!

    Location:
    Napa, CA
    Would it be a complicated endeavor to release your version on the streaming platforms?
     
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    It would be illegal.
     
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  16. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan Senior Member

    Location:
    Oregon
    Reading that, my mind is playing word association tricks on me. I read Dolph Thomas and I think Thomas Dolby. Throw in noise reduction and my mind naturally goes here:

    [​IMG]

    Sounds like Dolph Thomas was a pretty innovative guy.
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Warner Bros. Pictures always had the best technical people. Both Dolph Thomas and M. A. Merrick worked on most WB features from that era. One can clearly hear their voices during session playback. Just doing a good day's work back in the day. Died unreported and ignored. Typical..

    I'm probably the first person to type their names on social media..
     
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  18. Gnome de Plume

    Gnome de Plume 12 HOT hits for a COOL penny!

    Location:
    Napa, CA
    I mean, if you did the work for hire, does whoever paid you still have the publishing or distribution rights? Who owns your mix now?
     
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    Warner Bros. owns it, of course. They own all of my Frank Sinatra, etc. remixes as well.

    They have no interest whatsoever. Can't blame 'em..
     
  20. MCM_Fan

    MCM_Fan Senior Member

    Location:
    Oregon
    Understood. Business is business, for both Warner and you/DCC.

    Still, it is a shame that something so beautiful exists and few will ever hear it. Warner should at least consider making your version part of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour experience. Most people going on the tour won't be "audiophiles", but it would give the masses a way to hear songs from The Music Man in all their glory.
     
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  21. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Location:
    NYC

    Ah...thank you Steve.
     
  22. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Was Dolph any relation to Mahlon Merrick? (Doubtful, I know, but they both were at Hollywood soundstages around the same time.)
     
  23. Jonathan L

    Jonathan L Well-Known Member

    Thanks very much for posting that EQ information. I tried applying something like that on the Warner Brothers CD, and now it sounds much less like it is coming out of a toy record player.
     
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Location:
    California
    EQ could vary between songs a bit, adjust to taste.

    Sadly the reverb on there is NOT on the original tapes, that was added for the LP versions and carried over (urggh!) for the issued CD version.
     
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  25. Kent Gray

    Kent Gray Resident

    Location:
    Missouri
    Haven't seen that movie since I was a kid. Fell in love with Shirley Jones because of it. Oh, I recall Jones said she was pregnant when she auditioned and had to wear a tight corset to cover her condition. Robert Preston was shocked when Sean Cassidy kicked him during one scene.

    The video sound quality is surprisingly good.
     

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