By Fire Ant, New Times Palm Beach
The entrance to the Recorded Sound Archives at FAU is guarded by the remnants of hi-fi history. Walnut-paneled gramophones from the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties line one wall. On shelves across the way, postwar portable sound systems and reel-to-reel tape decks compete for shelf space with 78 rpm and 45 rpm records from historic labels long gone – Decca (now owned by Vivendi), RCA Victor and Okeh (now owned by Sony).
Now in its third year, the archive is dedicated to the preservation and digitization of vintage audio — music as recorded on vinyl and, before that, shellac discs, which degrade over time as needles bounce through grooves. One of the few institutions of its kind — with more than 100,000 items in its collections of jazz, Judaica and the 78 rpm records that predated the long-playing album — the archive has become an invaluable resource for musicologists and historians from around the world.
The archive’s latest addition is a trove of 786 vintage kiddie records from the collection of “Kiddie Rekord King” Peter Muldavin, perhaps the world’s leading expert on early children’s recordings. A Manhattan resident, Muldavin had the records stored in his mother-in-law’s Long Island garage when Hurricane Sandy struck two years ago. The storm surge left many of the discs mud-stained and warped, while the waterlogged record sleeves and artwork became mildewed and moldy.
With very little commercial value left for Muldavin, he reached out to the RSA. “To collectors the quality of everything counts — the packaging, the labels,” RSA director Dr. Maxine Schackman told us. “We welcomed his donation with open arms. For us, the cultural value was still there.”
Still, in addition to audio digitization, the colorful packaging that was so much a part of the kiddie records’ appeal is also being repaired and restored (to the extent possible), then digitally scanned. About one-third of the Muldavin donation has been digitized so far, the sound cleaned of crackles and hisses in the process, distilled to the nostalgic essence of what seems (and sounds) like a more innocent time.
The kiddie records database should be complete early this year. Because of copyright issues, though, access to the sound files will be restricted. Academics and other researchers will be able to listen over the Internet through a password-protected website or, by appointment, at one of the archive’s listening stations.
Dr. Schackman hopes to make song samples from the kiddie records available to the general public, as has been done with earlier RSA donations. The idea, she says, is “to make the forgetten music unforgettable.”
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He has no map and so far has not discovered a spot marked with an “X.” But he has spent weeks tirelessly searching at FAU’s Judaica Sound Archives through thousands of 78 rpm recordings for information about how Jewish identity was expressed in 20th-century music. Like Indiana Jones, Randy Goldberg feels like he is on a quest. Allowing his intellectual curiosity to lead him on a fantastic journey back in time, he relishes finding little known tid-bits of information.
“For me the passion is in the records. There is a childish love that I have for it. I used to watch Indiana Jones films and that is the sense of adventure I have. I am always looking for some hidden treasure whether it is here at FAU’s Judaica Sound Archives or in an old record store in Pittsburgh.”
“Jewish musicians have a cool niche. I love to find weird mash-ups, like Chassidic disco albums or Jewish sacred music set to a Carribean beat.”
Prof. Goldberg doesn’t find the enormity of the JSA collection to be overwhelming. Quite the opposite. “Just being being here and being immersed in the entirety of this whole thing. It fuels my enthusiasm and my passion for my research project.” he says.
Dr. Goldberg spends his time searching through the JSA’s database, locating the recordings that he is interested in and then entering information about those recordings into his laptop for use later in his research. It might seem like tedious work to some but Dr. Goldberg seems more like a “kid in a candy shop” than anything else.
JSA: “You seem to be having a good time visiting us and working here.”
GOLDBERG: “I love doing this. And the beautiful Florida weather isn’t bad either. Back home in Ohio there are 12″ of snow on the ground!”
Dr. Goldberg achieved a BM in classical guitar performance at the University of Texas at Austin and a MM in musical performance at the New England Conservatory. He earned his doctorate at Indiana University. He is an Assistant Professor of Music History at Youngstown State University, College of Creative Arts and Communication, Dana School of Music. He specializes in the music and music literature of early modern Europe. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Goldberg directs the Youngstown State University Early Music Ensemble and is the president of the Allegheny Chapter of the American Musicological Society.
After earning a degree in engineering, Bruce Burger (aka RebbeSoul)set off to explore L.A.’s music scene.
Leaving parental expectations and upstate New York’s brilliant autumns and wintry snows behind him, it was in L.A. that he finally found his sound….and his voice.
At the age of 22, after sharing a Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox family he was inspired to write “Sister Sarah.” Despite having been a secular Jew for many years, this experience touched him so deeply that he was moved to take on the name RebbeSoul.
As he added the melodies of nigunim and prayers to his repertoire he made a decision. “Every time I play as RebbeSoul, I put something on my head….To the great Rebbes, a nigun, a melody, is something that comes from the heart and goes straight to heaven without anything getting in the way. So when I do it, I want to make sure there is something on my head, out of respect.”
To strengthen his connection to the Jewish people even further, Burger made aliya in 2007. Now residing in Zichron Ya’acov, he is exploring his musical roots and enjoying where his musical journey is taking him.
The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU’s Wimberly Library is delighted to be able to add Bruce Burger as our newest JSA featured performer. Click on any album below.
Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library will be purged this January. Well, sort of.
The library’s sound archive is digitized, and duplicate records or those that don’t fit with the school’s collection will be given away Jan. 6-10, the Sun Sentinel reports. Possible finds include Glenn Miller, Barbra Streisand, Broadway, Christmas and Jewish albums.
The Nielsen Soundscan reported vinyl to be 2 percent of all albums sold. FAU archivist Ben Roth says the medium has a “warmer sound” than digitally reproduced music.
For more information on FAU’s vinyl giveaway, read the Sun Sentinel story.
Original Source – http://wlrn.org/post/sun-sentinel-faus-vinyl-giveaway-starts-jan-6