Every AES Convention allows the opportunity to take a close look at the present state of our industry, as well as a glance into its future. Equally compelling is the ability to examine past accomplishments and the individuals responsible for the audio technology that we now take for granted.
The AES Historical Committee was established “to investigate and learn about the achievements of those pioneers whose innovative ideas and inventions have contributed to audio’s rich past,” and is “developing a broad-based history of audio engineering and the audio industry.”
In this feature, William Wray, AES Historical Committee Co-Chair, will highlight some of the interesting events planned for the 131st Convention in New York City on October 20 – 23, 2011.
“AES convention Historical Events Chair Harry Hirsch has again this year put together a series of great presentations for the 131st convention”, says Wray. “The goal of the AES Convention Historical Program is to revisit the accomplishments of past pro audio masters within a context which makes them relevant to next-generation audio practitioners, along with exploring the history of recording techniques and equipment, and discussing techniques for preservation of historical recordings.”
Here are just some of the historical events planned for this convention.
LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI AND THE HISTORY OF ANALOG RECORDING: Presenter, Robert Auld. A prolific recording artist from 1917 until 1977, Stokowski’s passion for the art and technology of recording inspired a dialogue with engineers and researchers developing new techniques and technology. Featured will be rare recordings, still photos and film clips drawn from Stokowski’s extensive archives. Highlights include his collaboration with Bell Labs starting in 1932, and work with multi-channel sound recording, including with Walt Disney for the film Fantasia. Robert Auld is a respected NYC-based audio engineer, and a frequent lecturer on historical subjects.
A TRIBUTE TO WALTER SEAR: Presenter, Noah Simon. Since his death in April 2010, Walter Sear’s world-famous Sear Sound recording studio has continued to thrive as a champion of analog fidelity. With its reputation for meticulously selected and maintained equipment and a superbly trained staff, Sear Sound has attracted such clients as Paul McCartney, Wilco and Norah Jones. This panel will address Sear’s incomparable life and legendary accomplishments, from audio engineering and music composition, to his experimentation with theremins and synthesizers. Noah Simon is a Brooklyn-based engineer/producer/arranger and long-time AES member.
CLASSICAL RECORDING IN AMERICA – FROM ONE MICROPHONE TO 24 TRACKS: Presenter, Thomas Fine. This will present the history of recording techniques and equipment, from the 1954 heyday of monophonic full-range high fidelity with a single mic, to early stereo’s “golden age of recording” and the increasing complexity of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when Columbia and EMI won Grammys for classical recordings made with as many as 32 mics and 24 tracks. Highlighted by a rare, comparative listening session featuring Grammy-winning recordings of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe recorded over three decades. Thomas Fine is a member of ARSC, owner of an audio transfer studio and avid collector of music recordings.
AUDIO ARCHIVING AND PRESERVATION 101 – TWO IMPORTANT BROADCAST COLLECTIONS: Presenter, James Sam. The audio preservation program at the Hoover Institution Archives of Stanford University is a real-world implementation of archival best practices. Two large collections of the Archives’ are the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Commonwealth Club of California collections. Mr. Sam will discuss the archival approach and its implications for both legacy and new recordings. He will play fascinating examples from the collections.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS COLLECTIONS & NATIONAL JUKEBOX: This tutorial will highlight several of the Library of Congress collections, especially ones with New York interest (Tony Schwartz, some very early Frank Sinatra and others) to use as examples of audio preservation, workflow and metadata issues at the Library of Congress. The tutorial will also include a quick look at the online National Jukebox.
The on-going AES DVD Oral History Project is dedicated to preserving the genius of iconic audio pioneers in their own words. Convention Committee Chair Jim Anderson has developed a fast-paced series of YouTube clips extracted from the fascinating and educational full-length interviews with these pioneers to highlight the series. Members can subscribe to receive these exclusive 3-minute videos by texting AES to 757575 on mobile devices in the US & Canada. Jim said “With over 100 DVD interviews to choose from, deciding who to feature in this series was a major challenge. I ended up going with some of the best known and most colorful figures, including Dave Hewitt, Bob Ludwig, Frank Laico, Phil Ramone, Ray Dolby and John Eargle.” The full-length interviews are available from the AES historical web store.
Make sure to check your convention calendar for times and places…you won’t want to miss any of these!