Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Irv Joel, October 12, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Improving recording quality / echo chambers

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Partial Transcript: Okay, it is October 12th, 1999 and I'm speaking with Irv Joel again.

Segment Synopsis: Joel talks about the developmental of full dimensional sound at Capitol Records, which was an effort to “bring the concert hall to the living room.” He goes on to describe the effort to produce depth and quality in recording. He then talks about ways in which he reduced extraneous noise in recording, and the famous Capitol Records underground echo chambers.

Keywords: Audio Engineering Society (AES); California; Capitol Records; Capitol Records tower; Columbia Records, Inc.; Depth; EMI (Electrical and Musical Industries); Echo (reverberation) chambers; Ecke, Ed; Full dimensional sound; Germany; High Fidelity Magazine; High fidelity; Mono; New York (N.Y.); Quality control; RCA Records; Recording; Stereo

Subjects: Audio Engineering Society; California; Capitol Records, Inc.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Germany; High-fidelity sound systems.; History of science and technology; Music; New York (N.Y.); RCA Records; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stereophonic sound systems.

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7127, -74.0059
00:09:31 - Stereo recording

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Partial Transcript: Okay, how did that work?

Segment Synopsis: Joel discusses the reasons why Capitol Records embraced stereo recording. He talks about recreating Broadway shows for recording purposes. He then describes recording Rudolf Firkusny and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Keywords: Acoustic delays; Broadway shows; Firkusny, Rudolf; Funny Girl (Musical); Jones, Dick; Manhattan Center; Microphone panning; Microphones, placement of; Molly Brown (Musical); Mono; Music Man, the (Musical); Music producers; Pianos; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Preston, Robert (Artist); Stereo; Wiswell, Andy

Subjects: Firkušný, Rudolf, 1912-1994; History of science and technology; Jones, Dick; Microphone; Music; Piano; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Preston, Robert; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stereophonic sound systems.; Wiswell, Andy

00:17:48 - Shift from New York (N.Y.) to Los Angeles (Calif.)

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Partial Transcript: Huh, and this is--'cause you were, at this point, doing mostly the--I remember you said you did all the remotes?

Segment Synopsis: Joel talks about how remote recording took up the majority of his time, rather than studio work. He also talks about New York (N.Y.) being the epicenter of the recording business in the 1950s and 1960s, which eventually shifted to Los Angeles (Calif.) and Nashville (Tenn.).

Keywords: Arthur, Brooks; Capitol Records tower; Capitol Records, Inc.; Elektra Records; Greene, Ed; Kapps, David; Los Angeles (Calif.); MGM Records; Nashville (Tenn.); New York (N.Y.); RCA Records; Record Plant, the; Recording studios; Recording, on location; Recording, remote; Warner Brother's Records

Subjects: Arthur, Brooks; Capitol Records, Inc.; Elektra Records (Firm); Greene, Ed; History of science and technology; Los Angeles (Calif.); MGM Records; Music; Nashville (Tenn.); New York (N.Y.); RCA Records; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Warner Brother's Company

GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
00:21:38 - Bill Putnam and Bob Fine

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Partial Transcript: Uh, and Chicago is another place--

Segment Synopsis: Joel talks about the reputations of Bill Putnam and Bob Fine. He also talks about audio engineers who were primarily musicians and did not understand the technical side of the recording business.

Keywords: Allen, Murray; Audio Engineering Society (AES); Audio engineers; Chicago (Ill.); Eastman School of Music; Fine, Bob; Fine, Wilma Cozart; Ludwig, Bob; Musicians; Putnam, Bill; Ramone, Phil; Singers (vocalists); Stoddard, Bill; Stoddard, Miriam; Universal Recording

Subjects: Allen, Murray; Audio Engineering Society; Chicago (Ill.); Eastman School of Music; Fine, Bob; History of science and technology; Ludwig, Bob; Music; Musicians; Putnam, Bill; Ramone, Phil; Record labels.; Singers.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Chicago (Ill.)
Map Coordinates: 41.836944, -87.684722
00:26:04 - Teaching

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Partial Transcript: Just basically, w, what--and, and I think you know I taught, uh, certainly at A&R I taught.

Segment Synopsis: Joel describes teaching mixers to be “the pilot of the airplane.” He talks about the importance of having an engineering background. He then talks about how Phil Ramone trained the audio engineers at A&R Recording.

Keywords: A&R Recording; Audio engineers; Broadcasting; Capitol Records, Inc.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Eastman School of Music; Editing; Education; Engineers; Grundy, Al; Hall, Ray; Mastering; Mixers; Mixing; Plunkett, Don; RCA; RCA Institutes; RCA Records; Radio; Ramone, Phil; Recording; Shiners, Elliot; Signal Corps; Teaching; World War II

Subjects: Broadcasting; Capitol Records, Inc.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Eastman School of Music; Education; Grundy, Alan, 1952-; Hall, Ray; History of science and technology; Music; RCA Institutes; RCA Records; Radio; Ramone, Phil; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Teaching; World War, 1939-1945

00:32:00 - Key studios in New York (N.Y.) in the 1940s

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Partial Transcript: Alright, where do I want to go here? Let's see.

Segment Synopsis: Schmidt Horning asks Joel what the key recording studios were in New York (N.Y.) in the 1940s, which he feels he cannot answer.

Keywords: Capitol Records; Harry Smith Recording Studios; Mary Howard Recordings; New York (N.Y.); Recording studios

Subjects: Capitol Records, Inc.; History of science and technology; Music; New York, (N.Y.); Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7127, -74.0059
00:34:54 - Television

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Partial Transcript: Your, your background, working on television stuff, when you worked on the Big Picture, this all helped you when you when you first when into recording? Do you think that's what made it possible to go into that, or was it your earlier radio audio visual stuff?

Segment Synopsis: Joel talks about how his background in radio and television helped him to become an audio engineer.

Keywords: Army Pictorial Center; Big Picture, the (Television program); Koffman Studios; Queens (New York, N.Y.); Radio; Ranger, Richard; Ranger, Richard H.; Rangertone; Signal Corps Pictorial Center; Television

Subjects: History of science and technology; Music; Queens (New York, N.Y.); Radio; Ranger, Richard H.; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Television

GPS: Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.75, -73.866667
00:36:19 - Unions

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Partial Transcript: Oh, Irv, can you hold on one second? I've got a call now.

Segment Synopsis: Joel discusses the role of unions in the recording studios. He also talks about how Columbia Records, Inc. strictly abided by union regulations.

Keywords: CBS Records; Capitol Records; Columbia Records, Inc.; Contracts; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); NBC Records; National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET); RCA Records; Record labels; Recording studios; Unions

Subjects: CBS Records (Firm); Capitol Records; Columbia Records, Inc.; History of science and technology; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Music; National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians; RCA Records; Record labels; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

00:38:41 - Stereo

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Partial Transcript: Okay, okay, okay, okay. Um, well, I was going to ask you some questions about stereo, but I'm trying to think if I kind of figured these out as I went along.

Segment Synopsis: Joel talks about early stereo recordings that were produced to illustrate the change in technology.

Keywords: Capitol Records, Inc.; Microphones; Records, kinds of: Long-playing (LP); Records, kinds of: stereo; Staten Island Ferry; Stereo; Subways; Trains; Vans

Subjects: History of science and technology; Music; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Staten Island Ferry.; Stereophonic sound systems.Microphone; Subways.