Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Audio Internship-Good to Go

Had a really interesting day of training yesterday. Mike has a full documentation manual (not online) of technical procedures and training that he uses with his graduate students in ethnomusicology/folklore that work here. I worked through Module I today. Learned a bit about formats, the procedures of the archives, the eccentricities of audiovisual archives, and the fragile and impermanent nature of the various sound media which I will be working with. Think, shattering glass-acetate discs or tangled wire recordings (from the 1940s). Plus, I got to go on a "treasure hunt" to acquaint myself with material in "The Vault." Found some really cool material, esp. this blues disc by guitarist John Lee Hooker.

Watched a video called "Save Our Sounds," a documentary that was once on the History Channel. You can listen to an interview with Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia on how recorded music influenced his development as a musician. (Real Player required)

One of the Smithsonian archivists (Jeff Place) was working through some old Woody Guthrie discs. He found a recording that others said didn't exist, namely "This Land is Your Land" with the extra verses against private property and standing in breadlines. Hmmm...subversive archivists, I love it! There are verses for Canada too!

And think about this--the only tapes we have of Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) singing was made only a year or two after magnetic tapes went on the market in 1947! His last sessions were made on magnetic tape between September 27 and November 5, 1948. He died the next year.

Got my summary done for the ATM internship:

This internship's goals are in two major areas: 1) technical training in sound recording archives technology; and 2) preservation of audio formats in an archives setting. Through this experience, I will become technically competent in storing, handling, and assessing preservation needs for tapes and disc formats; to provide for basic analog playback of various formats; and to be able to digitize audio. It will also give me understanding of preservation issues for sound carriers. I will learn how audio archives handle these issues and formulate workflows and insure proper documentation.


1) I will be assigned collections to transfer from analog to digital formats. This is a large task, with many other detailed steps. It involves the transfer, as well as creating indexes and other documentation.

2) Completing a survey of the preservation needs of the ATM's open-reel tapes.


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