- revised by Gordon Mumma,
- Howard Rye
- and Barry Kernfeld
- Chris Sheridan
A term applied to any of the various means by which sound and visual images are stored, and to the storage medium. This article concerns the general developments in sound-recording technology and their applications in jazz; for a discussion of recordings involving visual images with sound see Films. The systematic study of sound recordings as documents and as physical objects is the subject of the article Discography.
The earliest methods of sound recording are described as “acoustical” and employ only mechanical means for both recording and playback. The sounds to be preserved are directed into a large horn, which at its tapered end is connected to a cutting stylus. In response to the vibrations of air in the horn, the stylus cuts a spiral groove in the thick wax coating of a cylinder or disc, rotated steadily by means of a crank. The cutting process creates variations in the groove analogous to the varying frequency and amplitude of the vibrations; the stylus moves up and down in “hill-and-dale” or “vertical cut” recording and from side to side in “lateral cut” recording....