About this project
RECORDED WITHOUT ELECTRICITY!
As orchestra director and performer, Thomas Negovan has been dedicated to archaic instrumentation in his recordings, and now takes us back all the way to the very origin point of recorded music by tracking onto an original Thomas Edison wax cylinder recorder, patented in 1894. The process uses NO electricity to record, only vibrations, a wax cylinder, and a sapphire cutting stylus!
THIS IS THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL RECORDED-ON-CYLINDER and RELEASED-ON-CYLINDER MUSIC SINCE 1924!!!
In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the fully functional recorder, leading him to be dubbed "The Wizard of Menlo Park". On May 21st, 2011, I had the opportunity to record on an original 19th century machine with an audio scientist named Shawn Borri.
We made the two hour drive from Chicago to a unique studio hosting an 1894 wax cylinder recorder. While this is an obsolete technology, Shawn Borri followed the same experiments Edison and his team did and was able to decipher the process to create by hand the wax cylinders necessary to record with the machine.
Four songs were recorded onto wax cylinders, and we had the good fortune of being able to record into an old horn believed to have been from Edison's original studios.
I can't stress enough how impossibly cerebral the recording process was: any microphone technique was useless- the physical force of the wind from my voice and guitar needed to physically force the sapphire to cut IN to the wax, and any dynamics would simply cause the sapphire to not incise the surface. It was a magnificent challenge: creating emotion and the illusion of dynamics without any variation in volume, playing and singing as hard as physically possible.
Our next step is to travel to capture the images for the record cover with Greg Martin, using wet-plate photography, an 1890s camera, and a lens dating all the way back to 1850.
Following that, we are transferring the cylinders to tape through one of the first tube compressors, the LA-1 (of the 100 that were made, it appears fewer than five remain), and handing this to United Record Pressing where the songs will be pressed to vinyl...
Meaning NO DIGITAL STEPS will have been used to make these records!
As if making the first record manufactured in this manner wasn't enough- and, the first fully analog record in over two decades- we also want to add something else we think is pretty unique:
We are releasing the single from the record on WAX CYLINDER.
The entire budget for this project, even calling in favors, is over $6,000. I'm looking for help so that I can complete what I think is a really unique and special art project, and in addition to the warm feeling of supporting this journey, I hope that you agree that the pledges earn you some equally special rewards.
Thanks so much for helping me get this across the finish line- we have some great surprises planned, so we'll be posting both photo and video updates to share in the process! More news soon, have to get ready for the photo shoot this weekend!
ps- Here is a bedroom recording of one of the songs from the record! Enjoy!
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