The First Recording Studios
(Pt. 1 of the Studios series)
Audio recording was revolutionized twice over in the late 19th century with the invention of the gramophone (although this was initially intended to record speech), and the flat disc record.
With these inventions it was possible to listen to music in the home. Before this music was communal, listening to music was always a shared experience. Classical concerts, public performances on piano. One could only bring music to the home if one owned a piano, and could purchase sheet music to play.
The gramophone meant that for music to be heard, it must be recorded. This was easier said than done.
All parts needed to be recorded at once. If you had a swing band, all brass, piano, and rhythm had to be recording simultaneously. The result was amazing by their contemporary standards, but was hardly convincing today. The band had to be strategically placed around a conical recording devics, much like that of a gramophone. The loudest instruments would be at the back, with some instruments such as drums sometimes being placed in another room entirely to avoid washing out the sound with percussion. You can see a couple of examples below:
These were the earliest sound recordings, with such results as this:
While not convincing now, it was absolutely revolutionary, and led to the massive boom, and birth of the music industry as we know it today. Recorded sound is essential to our idea of music, live music is considered another field entirely.
Without the advent of recording technology, and its important evolutionary steps, music as we know it would not exist.
In part two of this series we'll examine these changes, and how music and recording evolved with the 20th century.
David Byrne - How Music Works