FAU Sound Archives Rescues Vintage Kiddie Records Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

By , January 27, 2014 1:40 pm

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.”

By Fire Ant — an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting — covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

Original Source: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/countygrind/2014/01/fau_sound_archives_rescues_vin.php

 

SUN SENTINEL: FAU’s Vinyl Giveaway Starts Jan. 6

By , December 23, 2013 1:52 pm

By

Credit Matthias Rhomberg / Flickr CC

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 Sourcehttp://wlrn.org/post/sun-sentinel-faus-vinyl-giveaway-starts-jan-6

FAU sound archive has free vinyl records up for grabs Jan. 6-10

By , December 20, 2013 1:56 pm

By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel

Alethea Perez, an operations coordinator at Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives, holds a damaged children’s record that will be repaired, digitized and archived. (Mark Randall / Sun Sentinel)

Florida Atlantic University is offering a free and legal way for music lovers to add to their collections, with no downloading required.

The university’s Recorded Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library, which collects and preserves music, is holding its third annual giveaway of vinyl records Jan. 6 to 10. The retro collection includes more than 2,000 albums from some of the biggest stars from the 1940s to the 1990s, including Glenn Miller, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow.

There are also a number of Broadway cast albums, including “Fiddler on the Roof” and “South Pacific,” Christmas albums, Jewish albums and some specialty records like “25 Polka Greats.”

And if you think vinyl is dead, think again. It was the fastest growing music format for the first six months of 2013, according to Nielsen Soundscan, which compiles music sales. During that period, 2.9 million vinyl albums were sold, a third more than the previous year. Vinyl accounts for about 2 percent of all albums sold.

“Five years ago, 80 percent of my sales came from CDs and 20 percent from vinyl. Now it’s 90 percent vinyl,” said Ritchie Siegrist, owner of the Record Rack, which sells new and used music in Pompano Beach. “People have found that the quality of sound is far superior to a CD or an MP3.”

The FAU music archives has been accepting donations of old records since 2002. It started with a focus on Jewish music and later expanded to include classical, jazz, opera and children’s records. The music is digitized and archived, and available to students, faculty and researchers. Some recordings are also available to the public online.

The records that FAU is giving away either don’t fit into FAU’s collections, or they are duplicate copies.

“These excess recordings pile up over time, so each year we give the community a chance to browse through them and take what they want,” said Maxine Schackman, director of the archives.

Ben Roth, an archivist for the FAU Sound Archives, said vinyl has a “warmer sound, not as sterile,” as digital music.

Today every major music label is releasing new albums and re-releasing old ones on vinyl, Siegrist said. Turntables and needles are easy to find in stores. In addition to specialty shops, vinyl records and accessories can be found inside big chain stories such as Best Buy and Urban Outfitters.

Classic rock is particularly popular on vinyl, including albums by the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, Siegrist said.

Roth said he was surprised at how popular the giveaway was last year, particularly with students. The collection started with more than 20 cartons of boxes, and by the last day, only two cartons were left.

“Some gave them to their grandparents. Some kept them for themselves and played them on turntables given to them by their parents,” he said.

The library will also offer a small collection of music on cassettes and 8-tracks, but demand for those has remained relatively low, Roth said.

stravis@tribune.com or Twitter @smtravis

If you go:

What: FAU vinyl music giveaway

When: Jan. 6 to 10, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Fifth floor of the Wimberly Library, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton

For more information: Contact Maxine Schackman at 561-297-2207 or mschackm@fau.edu

Original Article – http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-12-20/news/fl-fau-vinyl-giveaway-20131220_1_vinyl-christmas-albums-music-sales

 

Best events this week: Record Giveaway at FAU Libraries

By , December 10, 2013 1:47 pm

SouthFlorida.com
Monday – Record giveaway

( Patricia Koppisch/Courtesy / December 10, 2013 )
Further proof that vinyl records are reasserting themselves in the collections of audio junkies are figures from music sales-tracker Nielsen SoundScan, released last week, which revealed that retailers moved 6.1 million wax units in 2013. That’s a 33 percent upswing over 2012’s haul of 2.55 million, making vinyl the fastest growing music format of the year.So there may be abundant interest in the free records that Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives are slinging starting Monday at the Wimberly Library (777 Glades Road, Boca Raton). About 2,000 retro records are in FAU’s third annual giveaway, harvested through private donations and duplicates that don’t fit with the university’s own collection.Up for grabs are albums from Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Glenn Miller; Broadway recordings from “Fiddler on the Roof,” Gilbert and Sullivan and others; and genre music spanning jazz to polka. The giveaway runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday, Jan. 10, on the library’s fifth floor, and then resumes Jan. 27-Jan. 31. Info: Call Maxine Schackman at 561-297-2207 or email mschackm@fau.edu.

Spin Doctors: FAU restoring children’s records damaged by Superstorm Sandy

By , July 1, 2013 5:41 pm
By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel

June 30, 2013

A pile of stained, mildewed debris from Superstorm Sandy has turned into a nostalgic treasure trove for Florida Atlantic University.

A collection of 786 vintage children’s records including “The Little Engine That Could” and “Black Beauty” were inside a Long Island garage when the hurricane-like disaster struck last October. The recordings, mostly 78 rpms, appeared to be ruined due to dirt and mud on the records and stains on their jackets.

But FAU has found a way to bring the stories and music back to life. The Recorded Sound Archives at the Wimberly Library on the university’s Boca Raton campus has embarked on a project to clean and repair the damaged records and digitize and transfer their contents to an online collection. It’s an effort that requires both modern computer software and old-fashioned elbow grease.

“We are excited to be working with such rare and wonderful artifacts from the 20th Century,” said Maxine Schackman, director of the sound archives. “I can’t wait to see the reaction when we are able to share our work online.”

The website likely will be created in November, Schackman said. Researchers, students and others who are interested will be able to access the digital versions of the recordings via FAU computers or a special password, restrictions that are necessary due to copyright.

The collection is full of literary and pop culture classics, including “Bozo Sings,” “Peter Rabbit” and “Mary Poppins.” While most combine stories and songs, some are music only, like “American Folk Songs” and “Alphabet Songs.” There’s a full array of Christmas-themed records as well as plenty of educational ones. A 1947 record called “Little Songs on Big Subjects” includes a gentle call for racial equality.

“You can get good milk from a brown-skinned cow. The color of the skin doesn’t matter nohow,” the song goes.

The record collection was donated in April by Peter Muldavin, whom FAU officials call the world’s leading expert on vintage American children’s records. Muldavin, who was out of the country and couldn’t be reached by the Sun Sentinel for comment, says on his website he’s been a lifelong collector but started accumulating kiddie records only in 1991 after seeing one in a used record store and remembering it from his childhood.

He then took out “want to buy” ads in antique newspapers and flea market magazines and was swamped with responses.

“People had these records sitting in their attics and basements but didn’t know what to do with them,” Muldavin writes on his website. “There was no established hobby yet.”

Alethea Perez sorts through some of the nearly 800 vintage kiddie records that were donated to Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives.

Due to mold and mildew damage, the library is discarding many of the story books and paper doll cutouts that accompanied the records affected by Sandy, but photographs of the printed matter are being taken and will be digitally restored using Adobe Photoshop.

Almost all of the records are salvageable, Schackman said. Some are warped, and many are encrusted with mud and must be washed by hand.

To help with the restoration, the archives department has bought a vinyl record flattener, a device that slowly heats the recording between heavy metal plates. The department also has software that can reduce background noise from old vinyls.

The sound archive started in the 1980s as a Judaica Collection of vintage works by Jewish artists, but in 2009 expanded into other genres, including jazz and children’s recordings, after the donation of 60,000 records from the family of the late Jack Saul, a Cleveland collector. That collection included 556 children’s recordings, all in good condition.

Benjamin Roth, a Sound Archivist at Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives, cleans a batch of records from the nearly 800 vintage kiddie records that were donated to the Sound Archives.

Archives technician Ben Roth contacted Muldavin, author of the book “The Complete Guide to Vintage Children’s Records,” last year, months before Sandy formed, for advice on finding some specific titles for FAU’s collection.

When a tidal surge from the superstorm brought 20 inches of sea water into a family garage at Long Beach on Long Island, hundreds of recordings stored there lost practically all their value in the collector’s market. So Muldavin asked FAU if the archives department wanted them.

The Boca Raton-based archivists were thrilled. The collection represents a period in American culture, mostly the 1940s and 1950s, when vinyl replaced the hard shellac material that had been used for records, Schackman said. Vinyl was more kid-friendly since it was less prone to breakage.

The works also represent a period before many families had television sets, and when children’s records were a popular form of entertainment.

“It’s a certain time in history that won’t ever be repeated,” Schackman said. “This was the age of innocence. Times were simpler then, more naive.”

stravis@tribune.com or 561-243-6637

Restoration operation

The process that will be used at Florida Atlantic University’s Recorded Sound Archives on the damaged records:

• A technician cleans the 78 rpm using a special ultrasonic wave machine, similar to the unit used to clean jewelry. Distilled water and a small amount of Jet-Dry rinse agent are used.

• If the dirt is excessive, the record is hand-washed. A hair dryer is used to dry it.

• The record is then digitized, using a special turntable that plays the record and captures the audio onto a computer sound card. Sony Sound Forge software is then used to eliminate clicks, pops and other surface noise.

• The album jacket and any accompanying books or cutouts are photographed. Adobe Photoshop is used to remove any dirt or deformities.

• The audio clip and album art are cataloged.

Scott Travis

Boca Magazine highlights FAU Sound Archives Collection

By , June 28, 2013 2:49 pm

In a small room on the fifth floor of FAU’s Wimberly Library, zippered bags clutch dozens of record sleeves of vintage children’s music, relics from another time. There’s Bongo, a circus bear unicycling on a tightrope and voiced by Dinah Shore. There’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” whose record sleeve depicts just that. There’s the Three Billy Goats Gruff, Pinocchio, Little Toot and Humpty Dumpty. One album cover, featuring Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, includes a pencil-written note in the margin: “To: Dick Hertz. Birthday, Jan. 20, 1951. From: Mommy.”

These forgotten treasures are currently the domain FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives (RSA), which began in 2009 as an extension of its popular Judaica Sound Archives; nowadays, the institution restores and digitizes lost and important music of all kinds. These recently obtained children’s record sleeves, their once-vibrant cover art damaged by flood and mold from Hurricane Sandy, are mostly second copies from the vast collection of Peter Muldavin, the world’s foremost expert on vintage children’s records. When his Long Island storage facility suffered storm damage, he donated its contents – 786 records – to the RSA, whose passionate archivist, Ben Roth, is a friend. Some of the 78 rpm records date back to the 1920s, bearing price tags of a quarter a piece.

The restoration business, on Roth and company’s end, is a long and painstaking one. They are still in the process of entering all the data, with plans to release some of their results through their website starting in January. Roth showed me a bit of the RSA’s fascinating restorative process, some of whose accoutrements look like something out the old Mousetrap game. First, the records are dipped, like strawberries in chocolate, in a motorized tank devised for cleaning jewelry, in which ultrasonic waves eliminate the ingrained dirt. Then they are positioned in front of an industrial hair dryer haphazardly duct-taped into position on a metal stand – an appropriately primitive way of cleaning these analog goodies.

As for the damaged, crackly sound of the records, that can be polished by more modern means – Sony’s Sound Forge computer software. The sleeves have been photographed and inventoried for digital restorations, but unfortunately the originals in the zipper bags will be discarded – their damage is too severe.

If you make an appointment, you may be able to listen to some of these recordings in the RSA’s headquarters, while admiring the collection’s vintage turntables, including an entirely hand-cranked 1911 Victrola and a 1924 credenza model that Roth says “cost more than a car” at the time of its manufacture.

Link to original blog post: http://www.bocamag.com/blog/2013/06/28/record-time/

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