16 Oct 2011

Phonographs or Gramophones and Typewriters

Typed on my Olympia SM3


  1. My father-in-law is a deadpan kidder, and once when my wife-to-be was a teenager, he claimed that an organist on the radio was named E. Power Biggs. She scoffed jadedly, "Dad!! There is no such person as E. Power Biggs." Then, of course, the DJ came on and said, "That was E. Power Biggs, plaaying Bach's ......"

  2. I love Tchaikovsky's bells. They come from an instrument called a Celeste, which looks like a tiny piano 'cept when you press a key it rings a little bell in there. They had just been invented when he wrote the Nutcracker and he went all-out on using it, that's for sure.

    E. P. Biggs was well-known in his day. Graduate of the Royal Academy, moved to the US at a young age. His program was broadcast on CBS Radio for fifteen years in the late forties and early fifties. Died the year I was born.

    The mechanism of a mechanical tracker organ (that is, not an electric one) is surprisingly similar to a standard typewriter, I'm told. When the key is struck, a rod attached to the key, not the key itself, moves the valve.

    Not so sure about the Tocatta & Fugue in D. I like the G Minor Fantasia & Fugue. The Gigue Fugue is highly addictive.


  3. One dollar LPs are hard to beat. I've been building a collection and have been really picky. The LP has to be pristine or I won't buy it. My favorite find this year was Grand Funk in yellow vinyl. Except for multiple album sets, I have not paid more than a buck.

    While you are at it, get one of those metal LP cover frames from Urban Outfitters. I buy some albums just for kitsch value (Alvin and Chipmunks Christmas) and put them in rotation on the walls.

    The irony is that we ditched a lot of our vinyl in the transition to CDs. Now they are good, affordable listening.

    I've enjoyed seeing indie releases in vinyl. The retro analog culture is alive and well.

    Some people swear that mint vinyl sounds better than digital on the right equipment. I suspect the love of vinyl is more about the tactile sensation. Having proper cover and sleeve art is also a bonus.

  4. I have a record of Beethoven's 9th that's an "audiophile" pressing from the 80's when they had to compete with cd's. It's thicker and more rigid, and there was something special about the grooves as well. I also have Monty Python's "Matching Tie and Handkerchief" which is a 3-sided record. I'll let you puzzle that one out for awhile.

  5. Records are magic, yes. It is the blackness of the spiral groove. Tomorrow I'm visiting a friend nearby who is going to give me a stack of used unwanted vinyl and an old typewriter - how cool is that? And how come your current collection mirrors mine? Toccata and Fugue defeats even the most expensive hi-fi - a real speaker buster!