Vintage Disco Museum

By Italia Liberty

Vintage Disco Museum Vintage Disco MuseumItalia Liberty

The Museo del Disco d'Epoca in Sogliano al Rubicone, in the province of Forlì-Cesena, was established in the 1980s within the fascinating setting of the eighteenth-century Palazzo Ripa-Marcosanti.The museum tells the story of sound recording, starting from the first engraving on a wax cylinder (1896), up to the technology of our day. This more than one hundred year long itinerary shows the evolution of sound recording. Just think that 50 cm diameter discs have been made, which do not only include recordings of songs or music. In fact, at the beginning of the 1900s, a cultural sector was established where the voices of the historical personalities we remember today were immortalized on the disc. An example. On a record dating back to 1900 you can hear the voice of Umberto Primo, who speaks to a small army leaving for China.In the twenty years the most important items of the period were registered with the state label, and collected according to a criterion for identifying the most important speeches of the politicians of the period. There are also four original records from 1934 where the canonization of Giovanni Bosco is recorded. Also in the maze of the Museo del Disco d'Epoca you can also listen to a 1947 disc-picture, a disc designed by Pablo Piacasso.An encyclopedia of all the precious particularities that the museum holds could be written. The only way to really get to know them is to stop in person and immerse yourself in this realm of sound conservation.

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Brief history of sound recording

The history of sound recording started around 1857 when Eduard-Leon Scott devised a device, the phono autograph, capable of graphically transcribing sound waves on a visible medium, but was unable to reproduce the recorded sound. The apparatus consisted of a horn that captured and flowed the sound onto a membrane to which a pig bristle was attached. Initially the bristle "engraved" its tracing on a glass blackened with smoke, then a blackened sheet of paper fixed on a cylinder was used. In its conception the phonograph is similar to the phonograph made and patented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1877. Edison thought he had created a useful office machine, in fact the first application he found for his phonograph was the registration of commercial agreements. Thus was born the "Dictaphone", trademark registered by Columbia Graphophone in 1907. In advance of a few months on Edison, the Frenchman Charles Cros theorized in turn the possibility of impressing a sound on a mechanical support and then reproducing it, an idea that never succeeded to materialize for economic reasons. After a few years of marketing the phonograph, thanks to Emile Berliner, the evolution began that led to the cylinder becoming a disc, which was introduced to the market in 1892 together with the device capable of reproducing it, the gramophone. Cylinder and disc coexisted until 1929 when, given the superiority of disc diffusion, Edison stopped producing cylinders. Berliner's records were the ancestors of 78, 45 and 33 rpm vinyl records, and other types in use in the 20th century.

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The museum

In evaluating the inventions of the last century, we must give great emphasis to sound recording. Proof of this is that sophisticated computer systems are based on the recording of a signal. Gramophone disks, known as 78 laps or shellac discs, often thrown away after the invention of the micro furrow, have now become popular collectors' items.... Maria had a little lamb, the coat was white as snow and wherever Maria went the little lamb did not fail to go ...This popular American nursery rhyme was "shouted" by Thomas Alva Edison in the tube connected to the first rudimentary phonograph, and to the surprise of the inventor himself, he managed to be reproduced very clearly. The first time that Edison managed to record the sound, was on December 6, 1877. It was the first time ever that a machine had faithfully reproduced and reproduced the human voice or a signal, reading the grooves engraved on a cylinder of material waxy (in truth the first incision in history is due to the aforementioned Scott 17 years before Edison Fonte). From that empirical first cylinder to the last laser recording, like today's CD, the evolutionary process can only be imagined and certainly cannot be expected that the pages of a book, or anything else, can reveal the The innumerable series of modifications and improvements that have taken place in more than 130 years, since many of them are only visible visibly.Beatles or Caruso? It does not matter. The important thing is that the disc in this museum is about itself.} So much has been done in giving life to this cultural initiative; document the evolution of the sound recording to the visitor, such as the start of the wax cylinder and never to arrive, as the museum is always ready to get around as regards technological innovations. This path highlights the different peculiarities of the disc in its 130 years of life.

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The Microsolco

The micro furrow was completed at the end of the Second World War, but it began to spread a few years later, at the beginning of the 1950s. Initially the micro furrow was an improved 78 rpm, the playback speed being slower allowing the recording of more music and the material used was of the resinous type, which allowed a more refined incision with better electroacoustic properties. This was the genesis of that evolution that brought the micro furrow to the current state defined today as "High fidelity", but the improvement process is not yet complete.

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Main characteristics of the micro furrow

The lightness Initially the micro furrow weighed 180 grams unlike the previous 78 laps which weighed 360 for the same size (30 centimeters). For economic issues related to production, the weight has dropped to 130 grams, however causing a loss of the overall quality of the substrate, i.e. a greater vulnerability to mechanical deformations including, distortion of the shape, and undulations, deterioration of the sound quality due to a increase in resonances. As for the 17 cm micro furrow, that is the 45 rpm, with the same recording duration, compared to the 78 rpm it has a weight of about 1/10.Sturdiness If the 78 rpm disc broke when it fell, the micro furrow, thanks to the material from which it is made, is unbreakable thanks to the small weight, at the price, however, of a much more delicate surface of the micro furrow compared to that of the 78 rpm, therefore more sensitive to scratches.The duration Initially with 78 laps the duration of a 30 cm disc, using both of its sides, rarely exceeded 9 minutes of recording. The arrival of the 33 laps micro furrow allowed to extend the execution time up to 30 minutes for each of the facades, with a total duration approximately 6 times greater than that of the 78 laps. The main feature that has allowed this remarkable improvement lies in the adoption of the technique called the "variable pitch" which consists in varying the space between the turns of the groove according to the sound modulations, instead of keeping them constant as happened previously, allowing in thus more efficient use of the disc surface. In practice, in the presence of a very strong modulation the furrow path will be wider and therefore the distance between the upper turns; otherwise, when the modulations are weaker the track will be more straight, it will therefore be possible to bring the coils closer together, gaining space on the surface of the disc. Loyalty Among the improvements undergone by the disc in search of ever greater loyalty, the use of a new type of material, polyvinyl acetone chloride, is certainly a decisive point. Its molecular structure allows the attenuation of background noise and the increase in sound dynamics, i.e. the difference between the weakest perceptible intensities before the background noise and the strongest tolerable intensities before the saturation distortion. At the same time this material allows the incision of a groove much thinner than the one incident on the old 78 rpm, a feature that combined with the new recording techniques has led to the growth of the sound spectrum or the range of sounds reproduced when reading the disc.Speed ​​and diameter The best compromise between listening duration and sound quality is represented by the 33 rpm format (actually 33 rpm and 1/3 per minute) at 30 centimeters in diameter, which has become the current standard. The adoption of this model stems from the need to transport as much information on a constant-size support that is practical to use. For this purpose, the groove width has been decreased and the angular speed of the disc has been reduced, creating the possibility of having an overall duration close to 60 minutes of performance with good sound quality. However, what is gained in durability is lost in quality: a reduction in the rotation speed below 33 rpm would result in a decrease in the linear speed (ie the amount of surface "read" by the stylus at each revolution of the disc) such as to compromise the sound quality, especially when approaching the center of the disc. In fact, the stretch traveled by the stylus on the outer edge of a 30 centimeter disc is about 90 centimeters, while at the center of the disc only 35 centimeters, therefore maintaining a constant angular speed of 33 rpm and 1/3 per minute, the linear speed varies from 50 cm / sec. outside less than 20 cm / sec. in the center. This means that the same amount of information must be "housed" in less space, for this reason the diameter of the last loop must not be less than 10.6 centimeters otherwise the quality would have an unacceptable collapse.Stereophony Stereophony is a recording and listening technique, which allows the spatial localization of sound sources giving the listener the sensation of acoustic relief, that is, producing the directional effect, or stereophonic effect; simplifying, this procedure consisted of dividing the sound into two channels, the left and right channels. This solution involved a new method of engraving as well as the use of new heads for reproduction. In monophonic reproduction, the information content of the sulcus is located at its edges, which the head explores to extract its mechanical information which will then be translated into sound signals.As for stereo recording, however, having this two audio tracks (left channel and right channel), there was the need to enter double information in a single groove. The stereophonic engraving principle consists of a combination of the two existing types of engraving: 1. vertical incision (with variable depth) used before the arrival of the micro furrow2. horizontal (constant depth) incision used for the monophonic micro furrowIn practice, a sinuous groove is obtained as that of a monophonic disc, whose two sides, however, are incised in a different way: the internal side corresponds to the left channel and the external side to the right channel. Of course, at the beginning of the marketing of this new format there was the problem of compatibility, the points used for monaurals could not work (due to the vertical component) on stereophonic discs. The first solution to this problem was to adopt a new type of monophonic head, equipped with a stylus also suitable for reading stereo discs; he would not have enjoyed the stereophonic effect, but there was no risk of ruining his records.Discs compatible with both reproduction methods called "Universal Engraving", also known as "Stereo-Mono", "45-45", "Sincrostereo", etc. were introduced onto the market. Without going into detail, these new supports provided for the engraving of a shallower groove, in which the vertical modulation amplitudes that exceeded a certain threshold were voluntarily limited, in this way even the monophonic stylus did not risk damaging the disc or leaving the furrow during his reading.

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Politics affects its voice in the history of recording

As soon as the great revolution allowed by the recording and reproduction of sound was recognized, an important user of this process was politics. All the political figures of the twentieth century had the important opportunity to give immortality to their imposing words, dictated by their own voice, engraving them on a disk or a cylinder. The vintage disc museum boasts an important collection of historical items: Edward VII, William II known as the Kaiser, Umberto I, Vittorio Emanuele II, Stalin, Hitler, Il Duce and others.

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Precious specimens of the Museo del Disco d'Epoca

• Speech given by the Duce to the fighters for the twentieth anniversary of the victory, recorded on November 1938-XVII• Message from H.E. Benito Mussolini to the North American people and to the Italians of America collected by the Chicago Tribune.• Berliner Disco L-4 year 1902 "God Save The King". This English Berliner disc was created and printed for the coronation of King Edward VII (the great grandfather of the current Queen of England Elizabeth) in 1902. In the area normally used to fix the label there is a relief sculpture depicting the features of the King and Queen; for this reason the disc does not have the classic central hole. All around the outer edge there is an inscription in Latin and translated into English: "Edwardus VII DG Britt.Omn Re for FD IND. IMP. Et Alexandra Regina Coronati - Die XXVI Mens. Junil 1902", that is, Edward VII by grace of God King of all Britain defender of the faith emperor of India and Queen Alexandra Incoronati on June 26, 1902. Engraving by the Grammaphone. This record is certainly one of the rarest and most precious records ever produced by this record thing.• Speech by Umberto I, for the departure of the Italian Bersaglieri battalion for China (the famous Boxer war) with the Milan fanfare and band.• Exit of Lieutenant Colonel Giuseppe Galliano from the fort of Makalle, a scene from life recorded by Pathè.• Speech by S.M. Vittorio Emanuele III ascending the throne, a Disque Pathè

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I Picture Disc

Picture Discs are particular transparent vinyl discs that incorporate an image; these illustrations, placed on both sides, depict the artist or representations, often with romantic themes, linked to the title of the song engraved on the side. The picture discs have different sizes that change according to the record company that recorded the disc. The specimens present in the museum of the period record are produced by Vogue Saturne and Pathè, and among these, those that have had the most luck were those of Vogue.- The Vogue Picture Discs -The most common vogue picture discs have a diameter of 25.4 centimeters and rotate at a speed of 78 revolutions per minute; 30.5 centimeters in diameter have also been produced but these are rarer. The first Picture Disc produced by Vogue measures 25.4 centimeters and was released to the public in May 1946 with the catalog number R707; the 'Sav-Way Industries' company that produced them went bankrupt, and consequently ceased production, a little later in April 1947. During this period, around 74 different picture discs were produced. Picture Vogue were generally sold individually even though the production of this record company has eight different 'albums' each containing 2 recordings; singles sold for around $ 1 while albums sold for just under $ 3.The Vogue specimens are acoustically of very high quality, that is, they have very low surface noise; the production process was rather complicated and consisted of arranging the various layers that made it up into a sandwich, that is, starting from the aluminum core, the layers of paper illustrated first, and then vinyl.

The new age of sound recording

Despite an uncertain beginning, sound recording has had and will play a fundamental role in the propagation of culture. The Museo del Disco d'Epoca therefore wants to enclose within it all the evolution of this important technology, not forgetting that this has a very lively topicality. In fact, starting from the first pioneering and imprecise engravings, the collection presented by the Museum describes an itinerary that will take the visitor up to the most recent innovations.Among other things, it will be possible to observe:• The first magnetic wire and tape recorders of the famous Geloso house• A pair of Mc Intosh tube amplification (pre-amplifier, amplifier) ​​from the 1960s• The first portable players like the unsuccessful Mini 10 that read small vinyls of just 10 cm in diameter with a duration of a few minutes• A reel to reel tape recorder• A modern high fidelity system consisting of Mc Intosh pre-amplifier, two 1000W Mc Intosh monophonic power amplifiers, two Linn Akurate speakers, the famous Kenwood L-07D plate, a 40-inch plasma screen and a LaserDisc / Dvd playerSoon, thanks to the collaboration of the University of Bologna Department of Cultural Heritage of Ravenna, the entire collection of vinyls (shellac, micro grooves, 78 rpm, 33 rpm, 45 rpm, 180/210 gram vinyl etc.) which has about 50,000 specimens will be fully cataloged, and it will therefore be possible to become aware of the immense cultural heritage made available to the visitor. There is also a large population of terra cotta figurines inside the Museo del Disco representing the most famous characters in musical history such as Maria Callas, the Romagnolo Alessandro Bonci, Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Fabrizio De Andrè, Giorgio Gaber, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin ...

Credits: Story

The national cultural association ITALIA LIBERTY - Social promotion body - Thanks to the whole team of the Museum: Roberto Parenti, owner of the exhibited works and deputy director; the mayor Quintino Sabattini and the whole city council; all officials of the Ripa-Marcosanti Palace in Sogliano al Rubicone.


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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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