Watch How Vinyl Records are Made With Duke Ellington and His Jazz Band

By Ian Holubiak | Jan 28, 2016 11:57 AM EST
A machine applies the finishing touches to a vinyl record at the Optimal record plant on February 11, 2015 in Roebel, Germany. (Photo : Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Have you ever wondered how vinyl records were recorded on, pressed and made? Now, have you ever wondered that same process but with Duke Ellington as your maestro? In a video from June 1937, entitled Record Making with Duke Ellington, we see the jazz bandleader bring the jazz sound to a standard LP, which is shown being pressed, buffed and put on the line.

In July 1937, Melody News (as found by Open Culture) reported of the filming:

"Last month, a crew of cameramen, electricians and technicians from the Paramount film company set up their paraphernalia in the recording studios of Master Records, Inc. for the purpose of gathering 'location' scenes for a movie short, now in production, showing how phonograph records are produced and manufactured. Duke Ellington and his orchestra was employed for the studio scenes, with Ivie Anderson doing the vocals."

Narrating the film in a beautiful mid-Atlantic accent is pioneer radio announcer Alois Havrilla. In the video we are shown how records were plated and pressed, showcasing one of music's greatest relics--the vinyl record.

Predating the Mp3 and CD was vinyl, and on it existed physical polyphonic material capable of reproducing sound with the help of a record player. With a needle, sound was emitted through the speakers, which was a "studio quality" recording from one of the major label studios at the time.

Be it jazz, pop, classical or any other music, the issue with physical format recording is the usual and common wear-and-tear that befalls physical LPs, 45s or extended plays and not necessarily the music that is held on it. With it, the "scratchy" sound and skipping that has been appropriated on digital recording is a byproduct of the format--and the time. However, before wear and tear, vinyl is capable of much richer tones than the newer electronic recording methods, at least depending on the recording equipment. In fact, vinyl is making quite the comeback with younger music fans.

But don't let me spoil for you what Mr. Havrilla (probably esquire) so eloquently establishes for you in the film below.

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