[Dixielandjazz] Live tempo vs Memorex tempo

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Fri Sep 23 18:13:04 PDT 2005

Several things conspiring against the 78 as a standard:

First of all, recording studios are not nightclubs; there is usually
more pressure and less excitement in the former.  How an artist reacts
to different environments adds another variable.

Also, some tunes only work in a narrow range of tempos while others seem
okay at almost any tempo.  Some musicians are very indiscriminant about
tempo, while others obsess over exactly the right mark.  In other words,
there's more than one way to cop a groove.

Then too, the notion that all 78s were recorded at exactly 78.000 RPM is
pure fancy.  We can get a little help when the pitch is off, but even
that method is unreliable.

And as you mentioned, the time constraint of 78s probably forced many
changes in the musical arrangement as well as the tempo.

About all we can expect from a 78 record is the approximate tempo used
on that particular session.  It may or may not match what the artist
normally did with the same tune in a live performance.

-- Paul Edgerton

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