Sunday, April 27, 2008

Antique Christmas Music First Day

For several years now I have been collecting old Christmas songs, looking for those songs that I did not know or had not heard often. They also had to be recorded before the 1960s (except for a few that I couldn't live without that were a little more recent). At first, I had to search very diligently and could only find a few songs that met these criteria. But as I learned more about the artists who were recording in that time frame, and the types of music, etc., I was more successful in my searches. Consequently, my collection has grown much larger than I had originally anticipated.

After I realized that other people, namely my family and friends, would also enjoy hearing these songs, I started making CDs every year that had my newest finds on them. That has worked well until I have recently had new friends that are requesting copies of previous years' collections. It is getting to be rather much to make CDs for all of these songs, for all of these folks, every year, as you can imagine.

For Christmas 2007, I found the fascinating website that the University of California, Santa Barbara has started which has digital recordings of cylinder music. I am amazed at the amount of time, ingenuity, and dedication that the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project has given to the world in order to give us a chance to hear these antique recordings. If you listen to any of these recordings, you will hear them exactly as they sound TODAY on the cylinder, including all the noise, hiss, pops, and sometimes even missing parts. Although I found them interesting as they are recorded, I did not find them particularly pleasant sounding. For the ones that I wanted to include in my Christmas So Long Ago collection, I wanted to remove most of the noise, pops, and other problems so that I could enjoy listening to them over and over. Therefore, I purchased some software that did a good job of restoring the music to a better listening level. Of course, the changes I made using the software were determined by my own preferences, which could very well be different from others' ideas of what is the best sound. I do think that I did a pretty good job on them, though, and invite you to listen to my revitalized recordings.

As I get going on this blog, I will add more songs. Right now I am going to put a few of my favorites here for download. Hope you enjoy them! Al Campbell and Henry Burr - "I'd Rather Be Kissed Neath the Mistletoe Bough" was recorded in 1913. In it the girl says she would rather be kissed beneath a mistletoe bough than spoon under any old tree. I have the feeling that the boy would be willing to "spoon" just about anywhere, though. Give it a listen.

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