Recording and Production News
Prism Sound Helps Preserve Unique Tanzanian Music RecordingsCambridge, UK. July 9th, 2015: The Tanzanian Heritage Project (THP) is using Prism Sound's Lyra Audio Interface in a unique bid to rescue and digitise the country's tape-based music archive, thus preserving a precious musical heritage for future generations.
Rebecca Corey, co-founder and Executive Director of the Tanzania heritage Project (THP) hatched the idea for the digitisation project in 2010, with her Tanzanian friend and THP co-founder Benson Rukantabula, while Corey was at home in the US recovering from a motorcycle accident in Dar es Salaam.
Rebecca Corey with Prism Sound
"Just before leaving Tanzania, Benson had given me a few CDs of old Tanzanian music," explains Corey. "The quality of the recordings weren't great - they sounded as though they had been recorded from the radio on to a cassette and then transferred to CD - but the music was wonderful." The music became a soundtrack to Corey's recovery and she spent hours talking with Rukantabula and researching the history of Tanzanian music.
"That's when I learned about Radio Tanzania, and the fact that pretty much all of the music recorded, from independence in the early 1960s through the mid-1980s, was all stored on reel-to-reel tapes that had never been professionally digitised," she recalls. Corey was determined that once recovered, she would go back to Tanzania to preserve and digitise those tapes. She also wanted to raise awareness of the country's wealth of musical heritage. "While West African music has got a fair bit of attention, East African music is virtually unheard of on a global level," she says.
Finally able to return to Tanzania in early 2012, Corey visited the archives. "That year, we managed to purchase a Tandberg reel-to-reel machine and a Studer was donated by the British Library," Corey explains. But due to lack of funds, the digitisation project effectively stalled for most of 2013 and 2014. "In the end, we weren't able to negotiate a satisfactory agreement with the government radio station about future access to the digitised material," she explains. "So we've shifted our focus to digitising the reel-to-reel archives of other radio stations and private collections.
Rebecca Corey at work
As well as the Studer A67 and Tandberg TD 20A, Corey has been using Prism Sound's Lyra Audio Interface, and Ableton Live software. "We bought the Lyra after speaking to several professional archivists and they all recommended the unit as being the best for A/D conversion on the market. We found it to be affordable for our limited budget and a great centrepiece to our DAW."
Tanzanian Heritage Project tape
Corey says the THP studio setup is kept "relatively simple. The key is achieving the highest quality conversion possible from the analogue signal from the reel-to-reel machine, to the digital version on the computer. We're confident that the Lyra is capturing and converting the signal and making the most faithful copy possible."
Ease of use has proved crucial on this project, which relies on enthusiasts. "No one on our team is a professional audio engineer or archivist," says Corey. "We took on this project because we were music lovers who believed that this music needed to be preserved before it was too late, and because no-one else had stepped in to do it. So the fact that the Lyra is easy to use and produces incredible quality sound has made us very satisfied with its performance so far."
Having just got the project moving again, thus far around four hours of material from 12 tapes have been digitised. Many of the tapes are in poor condition and need to be assessed and cleaned before they can be played and digitised. As Corey explains, it's a slow, careful process. "We assess the condition of each reel to determine whether it is in good enough condition to digitise. We don't want to attempt digitisation on a reel and end up damaging it further. Once a reel is ready, it sometimes needs to be re-wound so that the 'pack' of the tape is even and won't rub against the reel flange. We minimise the number of times the reel is wound and played as much as possible, to avoid any potential damage to the tape."
Due to the slow nature of the work, Corey estimates the process will take at least another eight to ten months of full-time work, using one Digital Audio Workstation to preserve and digitise the remaining reels. "We are continuously searching for additional reels to digitise though, so it's really an ongoing process," she adds.
The process has already unearthed many cultural gems, with Corey's favourites being songs dating back to the time of the country's struggle for independence, and just after. "At that time, the music was all about building unity, promoting peace; gaining (and then celebrating) freedom from colonisation," she explains. "Musically, there's some wonderful content, ranging from acoustic folk songs to Tanzania's distinctive dance music from the late 1960s and 70s, with influences encompassing Congolese rumba guitar styles, full horn sections, and beautiful vocal harmonies."
When the digitisation project is eventually complete, Corey plans to make the music "as widely accessible as possible to Tanzanians, particularly music students, through music schools and arts programmes. We also hope to release the material internationally, through a record label. Any proceeds from these potential releases would then go to musicians who have never received royalties from their work, and to the musicians' health insurance scheme, jointly administered by the National Social Security Fund and the Tanzania Musicians' Network."
THP's studio is located in the same compound as the Music Mayday music school, which as she explains, also organises listening and discussion sessions, seminars and workshops with elder musicians, and studio recording projects. "In this way, the digitisation is just a piece of a larger cultural revitalization effort that THP is undertaking."
More information about the project can be found on Facebook, Instagram and at www.tanzaniaheritageproject.org.
|30 Years And Counting - Prism Sound Celebrates Its Anniversary At AES New York
The company's entire range of high quality audio products will be on show during the AES Convention in October 2017. . . . (7th September 2017)
|Prism Sound Sponsors Pro7ect's 2018 Songwriting Retreat
Prism Sound's acclaimed audio converters and interfaces will feature in a pop up studio manned by Mercury Award Winning producer and composer Talvin Singh. . . . (15th August 2017)
|Birmingham Conservatoire Makes a Major Investment in Prism Sound's High Quality Audio Conversion
20 of the company's flagship ADA-8XR multichannel converters have been installed in the Conservatoire's new facilities. . . . (11th August 2017)
|Robert L Smith Will Share His Production Knowledge At Mic To Monitor 2017
Prism Sound's popular educational seminar is heading back to the USA and Canada this Autumn with an exciting programme of five events. . . . (19th June 2017)
|Award Winning Songwriter Iain Archer Invests In Prism Sound's Audio Quality
The company's Lyra 2 Audio Interface is delivering production quality audio, both on the road and in the studio. . . . (24th May 2017)
|B-SIDE PROJECT LAUNCHES 2017 ANNUAL GLOBAL REMIX CONTEST TO FIND EMERGING MUSIC TALENT
Now in its seventh year, the respected competition continues to provide a cross-genre platform for new artists with a heavyweight industry judging panel. . . . (24th May 2017)
|Prism Sound's Titan Brings Speed and Accuracy to Richard Earnshaw's Mixes
With an ever-increasing workload, Earnshaw says this powerful Multi-channel Audio Interface has delivered all he hoped for. . . . (16th May 2017)
|Bob Katz To Deliver Prism Sound's US Mic To Monitor Keynote Speech
This popular educational seminar is returning to the USA in March 2017 with a series of events for students, hobbyists and recording professionals. . . . (27th February 2017)
|Doc Powell Brings Prism Sound Clarity To His Latest Studio Project
The Grammy nominated guitarist and producer is using the company's Atlas Audio Interface for the entire recording process. . . . (23rd February 2017)
|Hugh Hardie Adds Prism Sound's Renowned Audio Quality To His Workflow
The acclaimed drum & bass producer has made the company's Lyra Audio Interface a key component in his Bristol-based project studio. . . . (27th September 2016)
|Prism Sound's 2016 Mic to Monitor Tour Heads to BPM PRO
Over the course of two days, there will be inspirational panel discussions, informative seminars and opportunities to demo high end equipment. . . . (31st August 2016)
|Producer/Remixer Glen Nicholls Buys Two Prism Sound Titans
The units are providing all the inputs Nicholls needs to connect to a range of tape machines and outboard FX. . . . (30th August 2016)
|Prism Sound at AES Los Angeles 2016
The company will show its flagship ADA-8XR multichannel converter and its full range of USB audio interfaces. . . . (23rd August 2016)
|B-Side Project Launches 2016 Annual Global Remix Contest
Registration for B-Side Project 2016 is officially open, marking the sixth consecutive year of the renowned, global remix contest . . . (19th August 2016)
|Classical Supremo Paul Carasco Adds A Prism Sound Atlas Audio Interface To His Recording Rig
The renowned Australian pianist, sound engineer and film director is using Atlas to simplify his workflow. . . . (17th August 2016)
|Prism Sound's Atlas Audio Interface Brings Harmony To Talvin Singh's Studio
The award winning producer and composer says the unit's audio transparency has revolutionised the way he works. . . . (11th August 2016)
Subscribe to this as an RSS Feed
See Also: News Archive