Two Turntables and a Gramophone

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T his blog will be the first of three such writings discussing the history of Music Technology in Hip Hop. Using the three eras in They Reminisce, I will examine the evolution and progression and how this technology has affected Hip Hop dance.

As we learned last year; in the beginning, there was the DJ and the Music……well, at least the beginning of Hip Hop, but there is a lot that comes prior to the DJ in reference to the music.Without the technology of the record, the stylus (or needle) and especially the mixer, DJ Kool Herc would not have had the ability to utilize samples from records and continuously play breaks for the bboys.

Dating back to 1877, Thomas Edison made the first Phonograph. A tinfoil sheet in a cylinder shape would record and reproduce sound by a stylus moving over the deviations of a groove engraved into the surface. Back then the stylus vibrated a diaphragm which created sound waves that were sent up through a flaring horn. The tinfoil sheet was not made to last and proved to be difficult for people to use.

As technology advanced, Emile Berliner created the Gramophone, only about ten years later. The Gramophone did not use a tinfoil or wax cylinder but instead a flat plated disc made of hard rubber (later, it was made of shellac). This disc would lie on a flat plate that would wind by the turn of a crank. In the mid-20th century, these were a common item in most households and quickly became known as the record player.

Over the years, recording and reproducing sounds may have been refined, but the stylus or needle following the grooves that spiral inward remain the same. The vibrations made from these grooves travels up the needle to the cartridge which converts the vibration into a electrical signal or also known as analogue signals. These signals are carried along wires to the amplifier, which intensifies and sends the signal to the speakers.

Hip Hop History | Gaumont Chronophone System

The Gaumont Chronophone System (1910) was the first known dual turntable set up, created to synchronize cinema and sound.

I n 1910, the Gaumont Chronophone System became the first known dual turntable set up, created to synchronize cinema and sound. This was accomplished by using compressed air through a hose and a gauge to control which record the audience heard. Switching the lever from one valvebox to another allowed you to crossfade between the two records, thus creating a continuous soundtrack.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Alex Rosner created “Rosie,” a mixer made specifically for Club Haven in NYC. Rosie had 3 volume sliders; two for the turn tables and one for another audio source. Also, it had 2 toggle switches; one switch to turn the microphone on and off and the second switch to hear the audio independently; like on headphones.

Taking this concept, Rudy Bozak created the first commercially produced DJ mixer; CMA-10-2DL . This mixer had such a unique sound that to this day it still cannot be recreated. This technology allows DJs, engineers and other users to isolate beats, vocals and the overall tone quality adjustment. Created back in the Golden era, this technology changed our music forever, but is old sheet music valuable?

Again, thanks to this technology DJ Kool Herc was able to sample the part of the song the bboys wanted to hear and continuously loop it back to the beginning of that specific section. Thus, allowing them to dance longer and creating the beginnings of Hip Hop. Learn more about the history of Hip Hop at They Reminisce, February 6th, and 7th,  2015.

Please see links below for more information regarding Music Technology.


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They Reminisce | Hip Hop Art ShowERA 2 | The Golden Era