Would you wear and use a vintage pocket watch?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Victorian Era Music Goes High(er) Tech - Wax Cylinder Players


    Here, I have gathered some authentic Victorian-era music and presented it for your consideration.
      Many such songs were recorded on brown wax cylinders, which represented the most revolutionary new technology of the day.  Those well-to-do enough could purchase the cylinder players and listen to music in their own homes, something that was unheard of previously.
     Everyone else desiring to would go to arcades, where they could pay to listen to music through individual listening tubes, or to music halls where they could hear live music, recitations, comedy, and other entertainment.  To read more about the history and culture of the music hall, read this excellent narrative: Victorian History: Music Halls.

Of the 22,000 titles released on wax cylinders, only six percent are known to exist intact  today.

 Close-up of music box drum cylinder and comb

Actual cylinder song recordings:

"The 'bump' sound that is heard at the beginning of this selection is common among mid-1890 recordings, created by the recording phonograph as it started cutting the blank cylinder." 

More Resources
These sites provide background information about each song and any recording oddities heard therein.
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, University of California has many more rescued pieces of music from the Victorian era.

Another collection by an enthusiast and curator of cylinder and disc music resides here: Robert's Delightful Old Schmaltz 

The site Tinfoil.com has an archive of complete two-minute wax cylinder recordings.

If you want to browse through an extensive Victorian antiques collection, click on the link under the photo, or go to:  One of a Kind Antiques 

(If these pieces do not make us appreciate advances in music recording, nothing will!  Enjoy the nostalgia.)
 ~ DS


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