Cylinder of the Month

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Enjoy the mighty catchy tune, Down on the Old Plantation, as played by the Edison Symphony Orchestra.

Down on the Old Plantation
Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 8140
Category Orchestra
Title Down on the Old Plantation
Performed by Edison Symphony Orchestra
Circa 1904
Announcement "Down on the Old Plantation, played by the Edison Symphony Orchestra."

Enjoy this terrific recording of a great tune.

What's the difference between a "band" and "orchestra" in these early wax recordings?   In Edison's case, the "Edison Symphony Orchestra" differed from the "Edison Military Band" and "Edison Concert Band" perhaps most notably by the inclusion of a violin.   Usually just one – due to the limitations on the number of instruments that could play simultaneously and still produce an effective recording.

Without modification, the violin produces a complex sound (compared to most horned instruments) and generally did not record well in "orchestral" arrangements.   The solution was the Stroh violin: An odd looking contrivance which fitted a horn near the violin's bridge to better project the violin's sound toward the phonograph's recording horn.   In this recording, you can hear the Stroh's squall especially in the first few measures of the main theme.

This particular recording is apparently a circa 1904 re-make of the original September 1902 release.   Edison would issue re-makes when the masters were exhausted or, as in this case, the recording technology had improved significantly since the original.

To hear Down on the Old Plantation   —

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