Pathé 22055 Discovered in the Wild

Just in from the "wild" and right up your alley:  Found a rare American Pathé of John Pidoux / Thomas Malin that might be of interest:   

Pathé 22055   ca. January 1919  

John Pidoux:   "A Plantation Episode"  (Grimshaw)  mx. A79785

Thomas Malin:  "The Darkey's' Delight" (Pidoux)  mx. 0.12-B

I do not know if you've already covered this, but this transfer is in crisp sound, and at the correct speed, which on my turntable is about 85 rpm!  Pathés are notoriously hard to play at any speed. Unless you have the right size stylus (9 mil for one of these babies), the sound will be dim as hell, if you can get the record to track in the first place.  Therefore, I think the chances this has been heard at all, or at least in good fidelity, are very slim indeed.      


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Comment by thereallyniceman on May 22, 2015 at 7:26

Hi Brad,

It appears that your links to the recordings are faulty and have been removed.

You can email me correct details for the link to the recordings and I will re-add them for you.


Comment by Brad Kay on May 22, 2015 at 7:31

I do not understand "URL."  Can I submit the two tracks to you directly, and you put them in my posts?   

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 22, 2015 at 7:47

Yes Brad,

Your links in the blog post failed here, so I assumed that you had included a faulty weblink to the files in your post.

... but if you have the MP3 recordings and want to send them to me, that would be ideal and I will add a player for you.

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 22, 2015 at 9:18

Players added for you Brad.... very impressive recording quality!

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 22, 2015 at 15:42

I do like Pidoux...

"The Darkies Delight" is a hoot. I think I have a recording of Pidoux playing it. I need to go look for the dots...  

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 22, 2015 at 20:06

Got 'em. Going onto the "to-do" list.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 22, 2015 at 22:40

Oh heck. Done. I'll send it all in to Ian; dots and TAB. Don't have a 2nd or piano part.

Neat piece in 6/8 time. Not esp. difficult, nothing above the 10th fret Cmaj chord. Of course, it gets really tough if you want to play it up to speed! ;-)

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 27, 2015 at 14:31

Thank you Marc, I have added your TABS and dots to the MUSIC LIBRARY.

One thing that I heard when playing a midi from the Tab was that some chords sounded wrong... I assumed that a gremlin had snook into Marc's brain and that he had misstypped the notes into the TAB (those gremlins get everywhere)..  I mentioned this to Marc and he assured me that he NEVER makes mistakes, and sure enough some of the notes he entered from the C.Essex score were not what Pidoux was playing.  :-)

I also listened to Brad's recordings and found that they were not at the "correct" pitch..  ie they were not at the same pitch as the score notation.   I spoke to Brad and he made this reply and said one thing that made me wonder:

"I'm puzzled as to why "Darkies' Delight" would be two semitones sharp compared to the score.  Two factors went into my pitch decision:  1) At 78 rpm, the record sounded WAY too slow and low.  So I pitched it upwards from C to D major, which is a reasonable key for the banjo, and more importantly, the accompanying band sounds natural - i. e., the instruments seem timbrally themselves.  2)  Pathé records are almost always faster than 78, often 85, 90, even 100.  This series, the 22000s, is always fast.  The Jim Europes, for instance, are all 83.5 rpm.  Are the "C. E." scores transcriptions off records? That might explain the pitch discrepancy. I can't account for the musical differences!  Are Pidoux and Malin the same person? 
I am amazed by the improbable journey the sound took to get from John Pidoux' banjo to your ears:  
In January, 1919, in London, Pidoux and company played "A Plantation Episode" into a large recording horn, which converted it from acoustic to mechanical energy. It was inscribed onto a huge cylinder, the size of a roll of paper towels, that turned at 200 rpm.  
This cylinder, in turn, was transferred to a flat disc wax master - vertically cut, with very shallow and wide grooves - via "Pantographic" dubbing - a crude mechanical method in which much fidelity was lost in translation. Then the wax underwent the complex electrochemical processing that resulted in metal parts. These metals then were shipped to America and pressed into 27-cm. shellac discs on the American Pathé label. (Following me so far?)  
One of these discs travelled through time, surviving the twenties, depression, war, shellac drives and kids, coming to the surface in 2015 in remarkably intact shape. It was found two weeks ago by my friend James Parten, in his daily perambulations in the local junk shops and Salvation Army stores.  
When I got it from James, the disc was filthy with the accumulated grime of decades. I gave it a bath. It cleaned up beautifully.  I played it on my stereo system, using a Shure stylus tipped with a Pathé 9-mil sapphire ball. I corrected the record for vertical phase, speed, eccentricity, equalization and audio level, and in the process converted the sound from mechanical energy to digital.  
These digits then entered my computer, where, using Audacity, I cleaned the sound up further, removing clicks and pops, and reducing the surface noise by a further 5 db.  Then, with your help, these digits were zapped back to England, to appear on your website and converted back into acoustic energy.   
It boggles the mind to think about that whole process, from acoustic to mechanical to digital; back and forth across the Atlantic and time travel of 96 years, to give us Mr. Pidoux, none the worse for wear and very much himself. "

Brad asks " Are the "C. E." scores transcriptions off records?"

  We don't really know if they are exact reproductions of the original Pidoux score or if someone at CE produced a transcription at a later time with the score and maybe  done an arrangement in a different key.... I had not really considered this, but we have had numerous discussions as to why  some recordings seem to play so quickly at pitches above the scores we have available.


Comment by Jody Stecher on May 27, 2015 at 15:28

I can't comment accurately on the fingering and tuning of Darkey's Delight, it goes by too fast. But I can confirm that Pidoux is playing in F fingering on Plantation Episode and that he is tuned gCGBD, whatever the absolute pitch of his banjo may have been in at the recording session. The leisurely pace makes the apparent the difference in timbre between open strings and closed.  Emil Grimshaw, the composer of Plantation Episode,  was very much alive at the time of the recording and of the printing of the score and he was Very Much In Control. I cannot imagine him allowing CE to publish one of his banjo solos in a different key and fingering than as he had composed it. There is no question about this perhaps really being in G. G fingering at any actual pitch would give a very different sound on a banjo.

About  Darkey's Delight :D major may be a "reasonable" banjo key but it is not very common in the classic banjo repertoire. 

A point of confusion for me:  "Thomas Malin" was a pseudonym. Pathé used it for John Pidoux and Diamond Records also did that but they also used it for Burt Earle!  So why would Pathé issue a disc of two recordings of John Pidoux with John Pidoux's real name on one side and a pseudonym on the other? 

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 27, 2015 at 15:52

Purely speculation: convoluted market-think. Recording companies of the period often touted the vast quantity of "performers" in their paddock. I doubt it made any difference to the actual buyer but competition at the manufacturing/sales level was fierce.

Also, many performers were under contract to specific studios and used pseudonyms to record outside of their obligation. When the recording was actually pressed, that specific master may have been purchased from one of these outside contractors. The pressing company/division wouldn't have anything but a slip of paper to go on for who actually recorded it. 

If anyone finds mistakes in my stuff, please let me know and I will notify the proper authorities. ;-)

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