Interview with Phil Schaap, January 18, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Childhood and early career

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Partial Transcript: --came to worry about you and predict that you have a very great life. Probably could have a very great life, even if I'm worried about you.

Segment Synopsis: Schaap discusses his background, including his childhood in Hollis, Queens (New York, N.Y.). He talks about his parents' musical background and his early interest in music as a very young child. He talks about his musical training on the trumpet and in a choral program. He also talks about his brief involvement in the New York jazz scene. He then discusses how his friendship with jazz great Roy Eldridge led him to become interested in audio recording. He also talks about recording Martha and the Vandellas and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Schaap then talks about a microphone technique he developed to deal with loud volumes.

Keywords: Bands; Cheatham, Adolphus “Doc” (Artist); Childhoods; Choral music; Classical music; Columbia University; Eldridge, Roy (Artist); Hollis, Queens (New York, N.Y.); Jazz music; Martha and the Vandellas (Artist); Microphones and ambient sound; Microphones, placement of; Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels; Mono; Music; New York (N.Y.); Parents; Popular music; Recording; Shavers, Charlie (Artist); Sock It to Me, Baby! (Song); Sopranos; Strikes; Ted Kramer Society; Transit strike, 1966; Trumpets; Village Vanguard, the; WKCR (Radio station)

Subjects: Cheatham, Doc; Childhood.; Choral music.; Columbia University; Detroit Wheels (Musical group); Eldridge, Roy, 1911-1989; History of science and technology; Jazz.; Microphone; Music; New York (N.Y.); Parents.; Popular music; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Shavers, Charlie, 1917-1971; Sopranos (Singers); Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Strikes and lockouts.; Trumpets; WKCR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7127, -74.0059
00:08:17 - Mentors in audio engineering / radio station experience

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Partial Transcript: So, um, along the way I met these people who were involved from--with jazz, from a perspective of seventy-eight rpm discs, in general, recording and recordings.

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about his involvement with Harry Fein in the Record Research Association, which he joined in 1968. He then talks about meeting Jack Towers, an audio engineer who was one of the first people to record Duke Ellington live on location in Fargo (N.D.). Schaap also talks about his experience as a broadcast engineer in a radio station.

Keywords: Airplanes; Apprenticeships; Broadcasting; Burris, Dick; CBS Records; Columbia Records; Duke Ellington Society; Ellington, Edward Kennedy "Duke" (Artist); Fargo (N.D.); Fein, Harry; Flying; Greer, Sonny (Artist); Jazz; Jazz music; Learning; Mentors; Radio; Radio stations; Record Research Associates; Recording; Records, kinds of: 78 rpm ten-inch; South Dakota; Towers, Jack; USDA Radio; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Radio; Webster, Ben

Subjects: Airplanes.; Apprenticeship programs.; Broadcasting.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Duke Ellington Society; Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974.; Fargo (N.D.); Fein, Harry H.; Greer, Sonny.; History of science and technology; Jazz; Learning; Music; Radio; Radio stations; Record Research Associates; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; South Dakota; Towers, Jack; Webster, Ben

GPS: Fargo (N.D.)
Map Coordinates: 46.877222, -96.789444
00:15:03 - Music volume

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Partial Transcript: Yeah--

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about how the volume of music has increased since the 1960s. He talks about recording in a glass, sound proof booth at Ferris Booth Hall in Columbia University and how the bands gradually reached a point where their volume was so loud they could be heard through the booth.

Keywords: Azimuths; Bass guitars; Columbia University; Davis, Miles (Artist); Evans, Gil (Artist); Ferris Booth Hall; Hearing; Microphones and ambient noise; Radio stations; Rock music; Towers, Jack; Verve Records; Vocalists (singers); Volume

Subjects: Azimuths; Bass guitar; Columbia University; Davis, Miles.; Evans, Gil, 1912-1988; Hearing.; History of science and technology; Microphone; Music; Radio stations; Record labels.; Rock music; Schaap, Phil; Singers.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Towers, Jack; Verve Records (Firm)

00:16:52 - Restoring and duplicating old recordings

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Partial Transcript: Um, about your hearing and this high end audio--

Segment Synopsis: Schapp describes his system for listening to music and deciding how to properly restore old recordings. He describes the ways in which he flat winds a reel, as well as other restoration techniques. Schaap then talks about the particular models and brands of recording tape that pose particular problems to restore. He also talks about dubbing older recordings. Schaap goes on to talk about the dearth of available moving-coil mono cartridges to restore 78 records. He also talks about the difference between restoring mono recordings and stereo recordings.

Keywords: 456; Cartridges, moving-coil; Davis, Miles (Artist); Disc transfers; Discs; Dubbing; Evans, Gil (Artist); Flat winding; Hearing; Jazz Scene (Album); Listening; Lunceford, Jimmie (Artist); Moving-coil cartridges; Originals; Quantegy Recording Solutions; Recording tape; Recording tape (models); Recording tape (models): Ampex 406; Recording tape (models): Ampex 407; Recording tape (models): Quantegy; Recording tape, mono; Restoration; Sampling rates; Splicing tape; Stereo; Strayhorn, Billy (Artist); Towers, Jack; Transfers; Turntables, Linn; Turntables, direct drive

Subjects: Hearing; History of science and technology; Listening.; Lunceford, Jimmie; Music; Record labels.; Restoration and conservation; Schaap, Phil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Strayhorn, Billy.; Towers, Jack

00:31:59 - Move from broadcast engineering to audio engineering

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Partial Transcript: When when you've, um--let me, let me ask you, if I can--do we have much, a little bit more time?

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about his move out of broadcast engineering to being an audio engineer that specializes in the transfer of discs. He talks about the companies for whom he worked, such as Savoy Records, Polygram, and Sony.

Keywords: Audio engineers, freelance; Audio engineers, independent; Crist-Company, Inc.; Disc transfers; DuPont Global; Fields, Joe; Grammy Awards; Jazz archivists; Oral history; Polygram Group; Queens (New York, N.Y.); Savoy Records; Sony Corporation

Subjects: Fields, Joe; Grammy Awards.; History of science and technology; Music; Oral history.; Queens (New York, N.Y.); Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sony Corporation; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.75, -73.866667
00:38:01 - Jazz music and training other engineers

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Partial Transcript: I, I, I, I have a great deal of reverence for craft, and I'm glad that I became an audio technician, but my love is jazz.

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about winning three Grammy Awards for his liner notes. He also talks about the dearth of individuals who know about jazz music. Schaap also talks about training other prominent audio engineers such as Ben Young and Tom “Curly” Ruff.

Keywords: Compact discs; Fein, Harry; Grammy Awards; Hearing; Jazz music; Liner notes; Musicianship; Polygram; Polygram Group; Restoration; Ruff, Tom “Curly”; Sony; Sony Corporation; Towers, Jack; Training; Wilder, Mark; Writing; Young, Ben

Subjects: Compact discs.; Fein, Harry H.; Grammy Awards; Hearing; History of science and technology; Jazz music; Music; Record labels.; Restoration and conservation; Ruff, Tom; Schaap, Phil; Sony Corporation; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Towers, Jack; Training.; Writing; Young, Ben

00:43:33 - Training / professorship at Princeton University

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any death dates for anybody? Has anybody died?

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about the way he handles remastering a disc that has little in the way of documentation regarding how it was recorded. He then talks about how most of his training was on the job experience. Schaap then talks about the fact that he is a professor of jazz in Princeton University’s American studies department. The two talk about the head of the American studies department, historian Sean Wilentz, writer of 'Chants Democratic,' who testified before Congress about the Constitutional issues posed by Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

Keywords: American studies department; Chants Democratic (Book); Congress; Constitutions; Documentation; Fein, Harry; History of technology; House Judiciary Committee; Impeachments; Popular culture; Princeton University; Professor of Jazz; Professors; Reels; Remastering; Teaching; Wilentz, Sean

Subjects: Constitutions.; Fein, Harry; History of science and technology; Impeachments.; Music; Popular culture.; Princeton University; Professors; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Teaching; Wilentz, Sean

GPS: Princeton University
Map Coordinates: 40.343, -74.657
00:48:42 - Musical dynamics

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Partial Transcript: Well, the recording, now, what you could--if you did talk to Mark Wilder, he could tell you the recording engineers are the real heroes.

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about the decline of musical dynamics, which has been maintained by classical musicians. He then talks about room acoustics, such as in Liederkranz Hall, which he refers to as an ‘acoustical signature.’ The two discuss reclusive audio engineer Rudy Van Gelder.

Keywords: Acoustics; Classical music; Columbia Records, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs (N.J.); Hackensack (N.J.); Liederkranz Hall; Musical dynamics; Musical performances; Plaut, Fred; RCA Records; Reverberation; Speakers; Van Gelder, Rudy; Wilder, Mark

Subjects: Columbia Records, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs (N.J.); Hackensack (N.J.); History of science and technology; Loudspeakers.; Music; Plaut, Fred; RCA Records; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Van Gelder, Rudy

GPS: Hackensack (N.J.)
Map Coordinates: 40.889398, -74.045698
00:52:56 - Discussion of other audio engineers

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Partial Transcript: My initial foray into this whole jazz area of it--

Segment Synopsis: Schmidt Horning discusses the audio engineers that have helped her with her dissertation, including George Avakian and Larry Appleton at the Library of Congress. She then talks about the posthumous award given to Bill Bachman’s widow.

Keywords: Appleman, Larry; Avakian, George; Bachman, William; Library of Congress; Miller, Mitch; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; Parada, Lou; Records, kinds of: long-playing (LP); Savory, William; Scott, Howard; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Avakian, George; Bachman, William S.; History of science and technology; Library of Congress; Miller, Mitch; Music; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (U.S.); Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Scott, Howard; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
00:54:16 - Rudy van Gelder and recording acoustic bass

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, just to get back to a little bit about, about Rudy van Gelder, and I don't, I don't want to go side on that because it's, you're not him and you probably don't want to betray anything anyway.

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about Rudy Van Gelder, founder of Blue Note Records. He recalls that he admired the way that Schaap recorded acoustic bass in the 1950s.

Keywords: Acoustic bass; Bass; Blue Note Records; Duvivier, George; Englewood Cliffs (N.J.); Leonhard, Jay (Artist); Microphone, placement of; Recording bass; Van Gelder, Rudy

Subjects: Duvivier, George; Englewood Cliffs (N.J.); History of science and technology; Microphone; Music; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Van Gelder, Rudy

GPS: Englewood Cliffs (N.J.)
Map Coordinates: 40.889682, -73.942047
00:55:56 - Restoring rock music recordings and hearing sound

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever done any mastering work for rock stuff? Have you been asked to do that?

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about restoring a James Brown song that was sampled by hip-hop artist Jabo Starks. He then talks about rock music causing young people to lose their high-range hearing. They also talk about how women have better hearing than men.

Keywords: Brown, James (Artist); Gender; Hearing; Hip hop music; Post-modernism; Rhythm and blues (R&B); Ridge, Paula; Rock music; Smell; Sports; Starks, John “Jabo” (Artist); Students; Towers, Jack; Women

Subjects: Brown, James, 1933-2006.; Gender; Hearing; History of science and technology; Music; Record labels.; Rhythm and blues music.; Rock music; Schaap, Phil; Smell; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Sports; Starks, John, 1938-; Students; Towers, Jack; Women

01:02:39 - Women in audio engineering

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Partial Transcript: This is uh, this is something, actually, it triggers a thought that I have, and let me ask you briefly, how many women have you met--

Segment Synopsis: Schaap discusses the women that he knows in audio engineering. He also talks about sexism in audio engineering and suggests that music itself is sexist. He then talks about the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-woman band.

Keywords: Audio Engineering Society (AES); Everrett, Rebecca; Fine, Wilma Cozart; Hayes, Vickie; Howard, Mary; International Sweethearts of Rhythm (Artist); Music; Parkinson, Deborah; Polygram; Radio; Recording; Recording studios; Sexism; Sony Corporation; Wilder, Mark; Wives; Women

Subjects: Audio Engineering Society; Hayes, Victoria; History of science and technology; Howard, Mary; International Sweethearts of Rhythm; Music; Parkinson, Deborah; Radio; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Sexism; Sony Corporation; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Wives; Women

01:06:16 - Eddie Durham

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Partial Transcript: You know Eddie Durham?

Segment Synopsis: Schaap talks about legendary guitarist Eddie Durham, telling a story about attending his funeral in 1987. He talks about how Durham demonstrated that it was possible for a guitar to accompany a multi-instrument band through the use of personal address systems. Schmidt Horning then talks about her paper on the electric guitar. The interview ends with a discussion of Count Basie and the Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Keywords: Arrangers; Basie, William James "Count" (Artist); Beach Boys, the (Artist); Bearfield, Eddie; Christian, Charlie; Durham, Eddie (Artist); Eddy, Duane (Artist); Electric guitars; Flying Home (Song); Hittin’ the Bottle (Song); In the Mood (Song); Kansas City 5 (Album); Kansas City 6 (Album); Lunceford, Jimmie (Artist); Masonic lodges; Miller, Glenn; Moten, Bennie (Artist); Paul, Les; Personal address systems; Popular Mechanics; Quicksilver Messenger Service (Artist); Radio; Recording studios; Resonator guitars; Resophonic guitars; Rock ’n’ roll; Smithsonian Institute; Springfield (Ohio); Warren, Earl

Subjects: Basie, Count, 1904-1984; Beach Boys.; Christian, Charlie, 1916-1942; Durham, Eddie, 1906-1987; Eddy, Duane; History of science and technology; Lunceford, Jimmie; Miller, Glenn, 1904-1944.; Moten, Bennie, 1894-1935; Music; Paul, Les.; Quicksilver Messenger Service (Musical group); Radio; Record labels.; Schaap, Phil; Smithsonian Institution.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Springfield (Ohio); Warren, Earl