There was a time not so long ago when sound existed only in time and in place. If you weren’t physically close enough to the the source of the sound at the time it was made, and listening, you’d missed your chance. Music was only ever heard performed live and none of the famous musicians and singers of the day would have been seen by more than a (relative) handful of people. Their reputations were based on being heard of, not being heard.

The first sound recording was made in 1857. It took twenty years before any recording was played back. Within ten years there was an international record business and a musician could be heard anywhere on the planet and at any point of time in the future. Recording captured sound. And then gave it immortality and omnipresence.

This blog is dedicated to the story of how recording came into being and how it conquered the world. We are specifically interested in the fine work of the EMI Group Archive Trust but we want to look wider at how the sound got on the rounds and all the widgets that made the digits, particularly those people like Charles Cros who plucked the very sounds from the air with their audio “butterfly nets”

We’d like to make contact with people who are interested in the history of recorded music and share information. We are getting ourselves organised at the moment but until we have something properly sorted you can get in touch via the comment section. We welcome you to do so.



20 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello,

    My name is Leon Parker and I am developing the British Record Shop Archive. I thought I might link up with you as suggested by Joanna Hughes.

    I am developing a website for archive now in meantime I have the above blog and also a group on facebook. I was looking at the H.M.V section in your blog and I have the shop bag of the first photo you display.



  2. Not sure if this is the right spot for this but Great Site! Nice research, great photos. Never seen Decca before. I’ve been by the front door but never seen it in it’s former glory. Thanks.

    Terrance Dwyer
    Mixers Inc.
    Hollywood CA

  3. What a fantastic site! I can’t believe I haven’t found this before. I’ve just skimmed through and already identified what could be many months, or even years, of reading!

    My own website has as its mascot a less-well known character borne out of the once-mighty EMI empire, but one for which I still have much fondness.

    I look forward to delving into your past articles and awaiting your future ones!

    Best regards,
    Mark Boulton
    soundhog.moonfruit.com – payphone.moonfruit.com

  4. Hello guys, I love your site! I am also very interested in the history of recorded music, as I am a recording engineer and studio musician who has worked in most of the top London studios since 1980. I started to develop a blog-style website of my own, but this disappeared last month as it was on Apple’s MobileMe server which closed down. I plan to transfer this to a new web host very soon. Meantime, please be in touch…!!!

  5. I love your blog! Inspirational and full of informational resources 🙂
    I am currently devoted to the mysteries of the early acoustical era of disc recording and hope you visit me at the ODEON ACOUSTIC DISC RECORDING PROJECT!

  6. Hello,
    I am a first year stage manager at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, we are currently working on a production of The Lower Depths set in 1902. One of our props is a gramophone, but we have an incredibly small budget. Could the site put us in contact with any companies or individuals willing to lend us their gramophone and in return we will show our gratitude by including them on the achknowledgements page of our programme.
    My email address is georgina.moore@rwcmd.ac.uk.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Many thanks,
    George Moore

  7. Hello,

    Kudos to a great site. I am sketching out an Eldridge Johnson biography. Is there a phone # where I can reach you?


    Kevin Cook
    Camden County, NJ

  8. RE Decca. I’ve cut and pasted this text from my unfinished PhD.

    The main British rival to EMI in the early days of the recording industry was Decca. The company was originally named The Decca Gramophone Co. Ltd.; the company initially did not manufacture records, only gramophones, and was sold to former stockbroker Edward Lewis in 1929 (Decca, 2010). Lewis then purchased a struggling record company, the Duophone Unbreakable Record Company and Decca moved into the recording business (Barfe, 2005). Decca followed EMI’s example and developed a recording centre at Broadhurst Gardens in North West London. The label Crystalate Records had initially converted the building to a studio in 1933, Decca bought Crystalate in 1937 and based their recording facilities there until Decca was in turn acquired by Polygram in 1980. Crystalate manufactured budget records for chain stores, and had built “two acoustically good and well-equipped studios in the former Hampstead Town Hall” (Barfe, 2005, p. 133). With this purchase Decca also acquired what was considered one of the best engineering teams in the industry (Barfe, 2005). The building eventually housed three studios in which the bulk of Decca’s output was recorded, prior to the company’s takeover by Polygram in 1980, after which the studios were closed.

    Have you seen this website?

  9. (Excerpt From: Steven Hancoff. “Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume One., The Life of J. S. Bach” iBooks.):

    “In October, 1935 at London’s Abbey Road Studios, Adolph Busch recorded the complete Brandenburg Concertos. This revolutionary recording became an immediate best-seller for Decca, and it brought the Brandenburgs to prominence and to their central place in the Western repertoire.”

    As I understand it, the success of this recording brought great profits to Decca, and put them on the map.

    For the information of readers of Sound of the Hound, my 3-CD recording off Bach’s Cello Suites for Acoustic Guitar, and 4-Volume iBook: “Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for Cello Solo” are now available.

    1. The Busch recordings were not made by Decca. They were HMV recordings, and issued on Columbia in the US. They were preceded by Alfred Cortot’s set made in Paris, also by Polydor recordings made by several conductors. I’m sure the Busch sets sold well, and they were, and are, distinctive, but I don’t think the Concertos themselves became “popular”, outside of a few baroque enthusiasts, until the early days of LPs with Munchinger, Casals, Ristenpart, Reiner…..and many others

  10. Im a trying to get hold of the CD called Chekhov’s band which I believe is on Renairs list but was not showing in their list of recordings when I looked last week

  11. Hi,

    Does anyone know when Columbia Phonograph closed their (London) recording studios at 73-75 Petty France, SW1 and moved into their new H.Q with recording facilities at EC1, or were they both operating concurrently ?…Long story, but I’m researching where Gershwin & Astaire recorded for Columbia during their Funny Face run in London (Nov 1928 – June 1929).

    With thanks,


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