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|2011-05-11 - Music News|
Kris Alingod - AHN News Contributor
Pre-WWI recordings available in Library of Congress 'jukebo' project
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AHN) -- Thousands of songs and speeches made before World War I and the era of microphones are now widely accessible for the first time, to anyone in the world, through an online "jukebox" courtesy of the Library of Congress and Sony.
More than 10,000 recordings of dance music, opera, jazz, speeches, poetry and humor made between 1901 and 1925 are available for free streaming on the website of the Library of Congress. The recordings were made by the Victor Talking Machine Company, the top U.S. maker of phonographs and phonograph records at the time.
The catalog includes the Original Dixieland Jazz Band performing what is considered the first jazz recording ever released, "Livery Stable Blues," opera pieces by Enrico Caruso and Nellie Melba, speeches from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and label images and art.
The collection, dubbed the National Jukebox, was made before an electrical-based system of recording music was used.
At the time, cones or horns were used instead of microphones. Singers would sing into cones that vibrated, causing a stylus to etch sound waves onto a rotating disc, which in turn would be used to make recordings.
Sony Music Entertainment provided most of the recordings to the Library of Congress in a collaboration that grants the public institution usage rights to the entire catalog. The Victor Talking Machine Company was acquired in 1929 by RCA, which later become a RCA Records, a label under Sony.
London-based EMI Music, which was created after the Gramophone Company merged with another firm, also worked with the Library of Congress to allow access to hundreds of Victor recordings made in Europe by the Gramophone Company.
Librarian of Congress James Billington on Tuesday said in an event promoting the project that the catalog was " a chance to hear history." He added, "This brings online one of the most explosively creative periods in American culture and music."
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