Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Recording Industry

Early Recording Session (1902)

photograph of a recording session

Th Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden recorded orchestras (as shown here in 1902) for its Red Label disks. (Camden County Historical Society)

Camden County Historical Society

Early recordings onto gramophone and phonograph disks required the musician to play directly into an inscription device that “cut” the sound into the grooves on a metal (and later wax) “master” disk. This photograph of a 1902 recording session at the Victor Talking Machine Company demonstrates how orchestras recorded music for the company’s “Red Label” disks. Musicians played towards a metal cone, which was directly connected to a disc inscription device in the next room. The prominence of specific instruments on the finished record was based on the physical placement of musicians in the recording room. Softer string instruments were positioned closer to the cone, while stronger brass and percussion instruments were farther away. (Camden County Historical Society)

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