Thursday, March 16, 2023

Progress Report: I have "New" Old Music from Long Lost Audiotapes

 Just the small stuff for now.  There were two cassettes in a box in the shed.  Also a videotape.  Still looking for the Hi8 video.  The cassettes were both home recordings of my Uncle Freil playing the piano.  One was dated 26 March 1988.  The other doesn't have a date, but is probably from the same time frame.

    Finished scanning the first audiotape last night.  The first side was done a few days ago, and had 14 minutes of Freil's music.  The rest was off-the-wall stuff, mostly commercials and old tv theme songs.  On the other side, it was a lot of Floyd Cramer music.  It makes sense, seeing that his style is very similar to Freil's style.  I used to have a lot of Cramer's albums, this was probably just a mix tape for the car.  Thank goodness it went into storage before it got old and brittle in the car.

    So, it was fun listening to Floyd Cramer last night.  There was even one song by Cramer that wasn't available on YouTube - Back On My Mind Again.  I know, it's a Ronnie Milsap song... but Floyd made it into a fun, up-tempo song.  I like the style.  Converted it to a WAV and added it to the "Songs I Want To Play" directory.  There are a lot of songs in there I can already play, but if someone does one song in a way I haven't heard, or that appeals and I want to learn their way of playing it... it goes in the directory.  Also, there are plenty that are beyond me.  Someday, maybe... or maybe I'll just enjoy listening to them now and then.

    The 14 minutes of Freil playing are digitized in one big WAV file.  I'll do some work with it later.  For now, the goal is just to get all these songs backed up.  One more tape to try.  Assuming the tape still plays, it'll be like opening Christmas gifts.  Who knows what wonderful songs he'll be playing?

... Several hours later...

    Slightly disappointed.  The 2nd tape was a duplicate of the first one.  So, no new discoveries.  On the bright side, I have 14 minutes of music I haven't heard in decades.  Quality is pretty low, but that was expected.  Recorded on a Radio Shack shoe-box tape recorder, while it was sitting on the piano as Freil played.  35 years later, the fact that the cassette still plays is absolutely remarkable.  I'm very happy with it!

    Spent the last couple of hours tinkering with the audio.  For what little I know, Audacity has some nice beginner level effects that definitely improved the sound.  Then started saving each song out as a separate WAV file.  Now I have 8 new songs by Freil.  Technically 9, but Yackety Sax was played twice.  I don't remember why, but it's all good.  It means a lot to hear him play something "new" after all these years.  Decades later, Freil still inspires me.

    It'll take some set-up, and hunting on the computer in the hopes I still have the VHS-to-File transfer software... but with any luck the VHS of Freil playing will be next.  Again, hoping it's in great condition.  Also, still searching the shed.  There's one more recording, a Hi8 videotape, that should be somewhere out there.  If I can find it, there's a point where he and I are playing a duet at Uncle Roger and Aunt Annie's home.  We're playing Goodbye World Goodbye, and it's a very favorite memory.  I need it to still be there, and still be playable.

One last thing, completely unrelated to music; there was another tape in that last box.  It has Rene Auberjonois (Odo, from Star Trek: Deep Space 9) reading a couple of short stories by Roger Zelazny.  One of them is "Unicorn Variations", and ranks as an all-time favorite story.  Going to digitize it and load it onto my phone for trips.  Talk about serendipity... this was an amazing rediscovery!!

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