Sunday, July 6, 2014

History of Gramophone Songs in Sri Lanka

The history of the Gramophone Company of India dates back over a century. At the beginning it was "Gramophone and Typewriter Company Limited" which was started in November, 1901 in Calcutta, having its base in London. Mr. J. Watson Hawd was the first manager. The interesting story of the HMV gramophone and records in our region begin with the arrival of Fred Gaisburg, Recording Engineer assistant of the inventor of flat disc record, Smile Berliner.He came to Calcutta in 1902 for recording with all equipment specially designed to capture the music of India. At the turn of the twentieth century the Gramophone Company of America divided into two parts. The American Company was known as Victor and UK Company, subsequently became known as HMV.
The dog's figure in the HMV trade mark was drawn by Francis Barrnad in London. It was his pet dog named Nipper. Barrnad's father and uncle were well-known artists in England, highly competent in drawing animals.
Barrnad first made this piece of work for Edison Bell and Company in London who were manufacturing 'talking machines', phonographs. But later the phonograph in the picture was replaced by Gramophones by Barrnad himself and was adopted as 'Trade Mark' by H.M.V. It was registered in London in 1900.
The prestigious label on the record with the 'dog and trumpet' logo was the vision of joy for the customers.
The big brain behind the technological aspects of the Gramophone Company of India. Jayanta Kumar Maitra, who was the Chief Technical Manager of HMV narrated the history and the progress of the institution which now has a capacity of producing 100,000 of cassettes a day having a business turnover target of Rs. 1000 million a year. He was assisted by the Executive-Recording Administration, Shyamal Mukherjee.

History of Sound Recording Devices

In 1806 the Physicist Thomas Young (1773-1829), expounded his wave theory, a part of which was a means of displaying sound as wavy lines on a drum. Young was more concerned with the nature of sound than a possible recording medium. (see picture)

Early Origins in Dictation Machines 
Edison with the first Phonograph
The first recording machine is at present attributed to the Frenchman Ed Ouardd-Leoan Scott De Martinville (1817-1879) who invented his Phonautograph in 1857. It could transcribe sound onto a blackened glass plate and, later, onto blackened paper on a drum. He had no means of playing it back (in 2008 his sounds were reproduced optically and can be listened to today) .
In 1877 Thomas Edison developed a machine that, for the first time in history, recorded speech and played it back (see picture). It was based on machines that  recorded Morse code but, instead of dots and dashes, a stylus was attached to a diaphragm and the vibration up and down inscribed on a cylinder covered in tin foil. The idea was patented in 1878. The machine did not become popular as the recording medium was not suitable for extended use and would need to be replaced each time.

In 1886, in Washington DC, Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell, cousin of A.G. Bell the inventor of the telephone, patented an improved Phonograph called the Graphaphone which looked similar to Edison’s Phonograph. Its stylus cut into wax on a cardboard disc.Challenged by the Graphaphone Edison’s Company produced, in 1888, the perfected Phonograph. Its cylinders were made entirely of wax and lasted two minutes. Both units were powered by either a sewing machine treadle or electric motor and were only for dictation not music. Edison developed three versions of Phonographs between 1896-1901, the “Standard”  the “Gem” and the “Home”, these remained in production until 1913. Edison contested, in court, Bell & Tainters wax system. The legal process took two years, at which time the Judge compromised the situation by giving Bell & Tainter their own patent so both companies could make their own machines using each others patents.
In the early 1890’s Tainter, Bell, and Edison’s companies turned to the more profitable line of music. Arcades for coin-in-the-slot phonographs sprang up and people queued up to hear crude recordings of popular songs, listening through hearing tubes poked into the ears.