in 2003, 2004 & 2005
Following the 60th
anniversary of the death of Alan Blumlein on 7th June 2002,
and the 100th anniversary of his birth on 29 June 2003, here are details of additional events in 2003,
and very significant anniversaries will take place in 2004 and 2005.
In December 2003, the 70th anniversary of the world's first binaural or 'stereo' sound recordings took place. These first experimental recordings cut into wax masters at The Auditorium at EMI in Hayes, were crude, but effective. A series of experiments that have become known as 'Walking & Talking', were carried out
from 14 December 1933 onwards. At first, Blumlein was disappointed with the results, but he perfected the technique over several months and through a series of recording sessions produced quite extraordinary sound quality for the period.
'Walking & Talking' binaural experiments
By January 1934, Blumlein and his binaural audio development team felt confident enough in their work to record the first music sessions. Ray Noble's Dance Band was chosen for the experiment and the recordings were made at London's Abbey Road, in the same recording studio that thirty years later The Beatles would record in. Blumlein's work on stereo was only cut short in order to apply himself to the more pressing need for the development of a high definition television system. Stereo sound was shelved and all but forgotten for another 25 years, by which time of course, Blumlein was long dead.
It would be a fitting anniversary if it were possible to re-create in some manner those first binaural recording sessions at Abbey Road in December 1933, with the same music recorded alongside the modern equivalent in December 2003/January 2004.
The summer of 2005 will see the 70th anniversary of the worlds very first stereo film recordings. Made over a three week period in the balmy heat of and English summer in July 1935, these films were so far ahead of their time that the cinematography industry and the public would have to wait until the release of Ben Hur starring Charton Heston in 1959 before 'Stereophonic sound' was acclaimed for the truly astonishing invention that it was.
However, some 24 years before Ben Hur, Alan Blumlein and his team of engineers who had produced binaural recorded sound, turned their ingenuity to the application of the new invention coupled with a film camera. The results, short though they are, provide us with the worlds very first stereo films all made in and around the EMI studios in Hayes, Middlesex.
'Trains at Hayes Station' binaural film experiments - July 1935
Incredibly, these films have never been made available to the public in any format, and rarely have they been viewed since they were shelved in Autumn 1935 to allow the continued work on the development of the High Definition Television System for Alexandra Palace. They remain almost unknown and unseen.
During the launch of my book in August 1999, the specially invited VIP guests were privy to a showing of five of the stereo films at CRL, the modern equivalent of the Research & Development department of EMI. It is thought that the gathering of over 150 people represents the largest audience for these historic films since first being filmed in 1935. It would be a fitting anniversary for these astonishing films if they were to be made available on a suitable medium for a wider audience to appreciate.
June 2002 - 60th anniversary of Blumlein's death
September 2002 - Defford Memorial unveiling
June 2003 - 100th anniversary of Blumlein's birth
November 2006 - 70th anniversary of Television at Alexandra Palace
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