Cylinder Recordings

Originally published on historia.ainurin.net (2006/10/30)

Edison celluloid cylinders

The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the Department of Special Collections, Donald C. Davidson Library, University of California (Santa Barbara - phew, that's some name!) has made available an incredible amount of digital versions of cylinder recordings from the late 19th and the early 20th century. Browse through themes such as Jazz, Dance Bands, Swedish or Finnish or Japanese music, ethnic humor at the expense of Italians, Irish or Jews, and contemporary events such as the Great War or the Prohibition.

Thomas Alva Edison's invention, the phonograph cylinder (in wax and celluloid), was not easily defeated by the disc. Today, restoration is hard work, since celluloid deteriorates with age, and wax is notoriously fragile. Although Edison was not the only one to produce them, the age of cylinder recordings ended when the Edison Company left the recording business in 1929.

Goldenbird fans can enjoy the novelty jazz song that Mayann is singing on stage in chapter one: Jazz Baby, performed by Rachel Grant (a k a Gladys Rice) in 1919.
Afterwards, you may refresh your Italian with this basic lesson from the 1900's. It seems that it is rather difficult to catch a train directly to Milan. But it is a pretty language, no?

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