You can now listen to more than 50,000 digitised pieces of vinyl online
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A joint effort between New York’s Archive of Contemporary Music (ARC) and the Internet Archive has brought to the public more than 50,000 digitised 78rpm discs and cylinder recordings.
The Great 78 Project, originally an ARC initiative, was brought to the Internet Archive a year ago. The latter has currently over 200,000 donated physical recordings, most of which from the 1950s and earlier.
The Internet Archive focuses in digitalising records in genres that are usually less common, in order to preserve them. Among them, some hidden gems can be found in early blues, bluegrass, yodeling, and even several Novachord synthesizer recordings from 1941.
The process of digitalisation itself is quite complicated, since different types of styluses can affect how a record sounds when played, and because playback speeds were not standardised until around the late ‘20s, the “correct speed” at which a record should be played can be a matter of debate.
In the online database of Internet Archive’s Great 78 Project, tracks are organised according to creator, year of the original recording, who digitised the record and more.
There are often different versions of the same piece, recorded with different styluses at different speeds, and they’re all available to download.
For the particularly geeky in terms of audio quality, The Great 78 Project also has a Twitter account, linking a new digitised 78s every 10 minutes, and suggesting recordings executed in very good conditions.
You can contribute to the Great 78 Project by helping improve metadata on the site, contacting collectors or donating 78s.