Here’s a priceless film from 1937 that shows Duke Ellington in the studio recording, and the process of making a vinyl record release afterwards. There’s a lot to notice in the video that will make you appreciate the recording process from back then.
First of all, notice that the band is recorded on a single microphone. The balance of the band is determined by how far away the players are from the mic, so you see the bass, guitar and piano fairly close. You also see the soloists getting up near the mic when it’s their time to wail. It’s amazing how balanced everything is.
The other thing to notice is that everything is being recorded directly to vinyl. This was the era before magnetic tape, so there was no intermediate process in between the band recording and the master.
Finally, the process of making a vinyl record has not changed since 1937, except that there are now automatic stampers. Other than that, it’s still the same!
Oh, and notice that the studio engineers all wear a coat and tie. A little bit formal for making music, don’t you think?
To find out more about this legend, visit the official Duke Ellington site.