King Street Recording Company Professional Audio Services for Any Purpose You Can Think Of – Video and Photo Too!
Quality Professional Services Since 1967
15 East King Street, Post Office Box 402 Malvern, PA 19355-0402
By Any Other Name
Whether you call it a French harp, blues harp, mouth organ, harmonium, terpodian or wind aerophone, the humble harmonica remains one of the most popular musical instruments of all time. Pocket-sized and portable, you’ll hear the reedy strains of a harmonica in nearly every musical form there is from folk to blues, to classical, jazz, pop, country and rock.
A number of popular musicians are known for their skilled artistry on this popular instrument. The quartet Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats were popular in clubs and concerts for nearly fifty years and even had a #1 hit record. Stevie Wonder remains one of the most versatile harmonica players in pop music. Accompanied by symphony orchestras, both Larry Adler and Philip Achille played classical music on a variety of sophisticated harmonicas. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite was once featured at Bryn Mawr’s Main Point. There appear to be no limits to the musical forms accessible by this simple instrument.
How and where did this endearing musical instrument originate? Musical historians refer first to a Chinese instrument, the Sheng, dating from about 1100 B.C. At that point, it bore no resemblance at all to the modern harmonica. As the years passed, improvements were made until the harmonica’s more likely forerunner was invented in 1780 by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein, a Dutch physician and physicist.
About a hundred years later, after many revisions, modifications and improvements, the harmonica as we now know it landed here.
In 1857, Mathnias Hohner, a German clock salesman founded a company in his own name to mass-produce harmonicas. At the start, the company did quite well selling harmonicas to German immigrants. Then, as the general public began to catch on to this uniquely portable musical instrument, sales grew more rapidly. Soon, nearly everyone in America knew what a harmonica was – and millions owned one.
Harmonicas are made in a wide variety of sizes, styles and musical keys. Mine are in A, C and D. On stage, I used a metal rack to hold the harmonica while I sang and played the guitar. The harmonica allowed me to add instrumentals between verses. I also have a Chrometta 8, also in C, with a button that allows playing sharps and flats. They’re quite durable. After fifty years, each instrument still plays as it should.
There are bass harmonicas, and harmonicas that just play chords.
A variation is the small, round “pitch pipe” used by music teachers.
In performance, a “wa-wa” effect can be achieved by enclosing the instrument in both hands, then opening and closing the hands slightly in rapid rhythm. Notes can be “bent” or made slightly flat by adjusting the force with which the instrument is played.
If you’ve ever wanted to play a musical instrument, the humble harmonica might be good way to get started.
IN THE STUDIO
At a recent Zoom meeting of Paoli Writers Group, someone new logged in from Portland, Oregon, with a first-person narrative that captured my imagination. As he read, I was immediately impressed with the quality of writing. So sincere, heartfelt, with occasional touches of light humor. I said to myself, “Self, I wanna narrate that!” When I told the writer the same thing, he sent me a chapter just to see what I’d do with it.
In hard copy the quality of the writing was even more impressive. For the first time in nearly fifty years I was about to record text that required no editing! At the microphone, it was a breeze, and I could open up and put myself into the story.
He seemed to like what I did with his words. Will he let me do the rest of the book? The jury’s still out at the moment, but I have hopes!
In converting the printed text to recorded sound, the sole purpose is to give life to the words. More than just saying the words, the words have to have meaning. More than narrating, it’s acting. Do you have words on paper that could be made to speak out loud? Gimme a call.
FROM THE ATTIC
Gumming Up the Works
A visitor from the Big Apple brought me an interesting challenge in the form of a 35-year-old studio recording of his band. With only four songs on the reel, it looked like a simple, easy project. It wasn’t.
In playback, we discovered that the adhesive from the original splicing tapes had bled, leaving little bits of sticky adhesive over the rest of the tape. When the gummy spots hit the tape guides, they would cause the tape to hesitate momentarily, interrupting the rhythm of the music and resulting in a faulty transfer to digital. How was that fixed?
Contrary to popular perception, not everything can be done with a computer. This was the kind of hands-on task that you never hear about.
Each splice had to be found, and the following traces of adhesive removed by… well, never mind. I’ll keep that a trade secret for now.
Suffice it to say, the tape was fully restored and the client could enjoy music he’d recorded many years previously
The Finish Line!
After months of review, revision, more revision and revised revisions revised, Russ’s music from forty years ago is now properly preserved both on disk and on flash drive. Detailed covers for the CDs will tell him what songs are where. The Mp3 files on the flash drive will allow him to use his home computer to create his own custom mixes for family and friends. Now he tells me that he’s found more tapes. Great! His music is so good that it makes coming to work in the morning a pleasure!
OPT: Older, Proven Technology
In working with a batch of home videos from 1989, I was surprised to find that they not only still played, but played well. I was amazed at the clarity and definition of the images. My guess is that someone had a very expensive camcorder – and knew how to use it. I wonder if a SmartPhone ® could do as well?
A recent video project involved preserving a concert performance by a songwriter I both know and admire. Most of us tend to be nervous in front of an audience. Not her. Calm, cool and completely in command, she owned both her music and her admiring audience. I was impressed, both by her excellent music and by the quality of her presentation. She knows the meaning of “stagecraft,”
defined as “Everything you do after the announcer says your name.” I have an instructional newsletter on that topic. For a FREE copy, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just finished the last of a series of VHS videotapes, some of which were over seven hours long. Never having worked with tapes that long before, I had to develop a method for dividing the materal between multple disks. In the end each video became a three-disk set.
Finger Pickin’ Good!
My instructional video, How to Play Guitar Like I Used to, Part One, is now available on DVD. $10.00. Cash or check only, please. Now, I have to write the script for Part Two.
Did You Know?
Your 35 mm film slides can be converted to a movie format.
In the Photo Shoppe
In the News
In an enjoyable change of pace, I was asked to restore and preserve a newspaper clipping from 1954. It had been clipped so closely to the text that very little border was left. So, I added some first. Then came the interesting part. The last line of text had been severely damaged. So, one letter at a time, one pixel at a time, the missing characters were slowly re-created. Finally, with a little touchup for contrast, it was enlarged and printed on high-quality paper. The client was pleased. What old clippings do you have that might need a makeover?
Words and Pictures
The delivery of two large cartons of photo albums led to many happy hours in the graphics room.
Scanned first as Jpegs, they were then converted to PhotoShop® files. Following that, each was properly aligned, cropped, sized, retouched and converted back to Jpeg format for printing. Selected images will then be used to illustrate a single copy of a comprehensive autobiography. This should keep me busy and out of mischief for the rest of the year. If more books were illustrated, would more people read them?
Word Continues to Get Around
To the growing list of out-of-town clients I’ve added another new name, this time from Massachusetts. Other states served include Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Hawaii. With all of the complaints about the Postal Service, not one of these new clients has ever lost anything they sent here.
Q: When you’re digitizing a tape, and it goes silent after the first ten minutes or so, why don’t you save time and just stop there?
A: Well, sometimes there’s something on the very end of the tape, and I can’t take a chance on missing it. I recently had one like that. After about forty minutes of home video, the screen went blank for a long time – fifteen minutes or so. Sure enough, there was more video.
Q: Why do some people call you, “Dr. Kingstreet?”
A: One day a friend left me a broken cassette with a note: “Dear Dr. Kingstreet – Can you fix this?” I could, and the name stuck. That led to making repair of audio and video tapes a regular part of the services here. I keep a bin of spare parts – shells, itty bitty springs, rollers, tiny little screws and other stuff. Since that first request, I’ve done hundreds of tapes in both formats.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: Sometime in the 1970s while I was managing the Main Point coffeehouse. I wrote an editorial for our first Main Point magazine – then again for the second and third editions. Somehow it just grew from there.
Q: Okay, why do you write?
A: I found out I had a lot to say – and a powerful need to say it. After publishing my first three books, I still had a long list of topics in mind so I started the Reading Room.
Q: What’s that?
A blog where I can post what I write. Eighteen titles so far, with many more to come. Go to: https://emmetrobinson
. com/ Reading-Room/com/
Grand Re-opening Planned – maybe!
Due to the continued threat of the pandemic, there have been no live recording sessions here in more than a year. Barring the unforeseen, live recording sessions for vaccinated acoustic musicians, singers and voiceover artists are planned to resume on January 3rd – barring the unforseen, of course!
Please remember that wearing a mask during these troubled times is neither a sign of weakness nor an intrusion on your personal freedom. It’s a matter of public safety – and yours.
What Are Your Thoughts?
If the studio were made available for acoustic music concerts featuring musicians, singers and songwriters from the tri-state area, would you show up? Who would you like to hear? Suggestions have included Chris Adams, Larry Ahearn, Craig Bickhardt, Al Bien, Diana Neri, Ken Meyle, Denise Moser and Eileen Tipping. Would you show up to hear these folks? Do you have other favorites? What are your thoughts? Reply to: email@example.com