The Bizarre History Of X-Ray Records And Early Music Piracy

[from Gizmodo]

by , Gawker Media

Thanks to the internet’s amazing capacity for self-recycling, articles about Soviet pirate recordings made of X-rays pop up frequently in my feeds. These popular, widely-shared posts explain how, in the 1950s and 60s, music fans in the Soviet Union fabricated bootlegged recordings of banned western music-and they used old X-rays to do it. In reality, the story of these records extends even further back than the USSR.

The story was warmed up by The VergeNPR, and Junkculture not long ago, and Der Spiegel and theBBC wrote about it a few years earlier as well. A common element in these articles-including NPR and the BBC-are images from Hungarian photographer József Hajdú, regardless of the fact that Hajdú’s images don’t have much to do with the Soviet bootleg discs.

I had seen Hajdú’s photos before, and some of them can be found on the old site of the Bolt Photo Gallery with a brief description about the origin and the circumstances of Hajdu’s work. To get a better picture of what was really behind this story, I went to the source and asked Hajdú himself to tell me what to know about these strange recordings, which wear the stunning marks of invisible short wavelength electromagnetic radiation.

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Primary sources/documents in Russian

http://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Russian_Revolution,_Civil_War_and_USSR_1917-1991 Russian Revolution, Civil War and USSR 1917-1991: Eurodocs – extensive range of documents including back issues of newspapers and governmental documents

 

http://hcl.harvard.edu/collections/hpsss/index.html Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System Online: The Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System was developed by sociologist Alex Inkeles and social psychologist Raymond Bauer. To test the viability of the project preliminary interviews were conducted in Munich, in 1949, by Merle Fainsod and Paul Friedrich. From 1950 to 1953, several hundred Soviet refugees, residents in West Germany, Austria, and the United States, were contacted as prospective interviewees for the HPSSS; some 330 candidates were selected and given full-depth interviews by specialists prominent in the field of Soviet studies.

 

http://theremin.ru/archive/sovok/hren48.htm Khrennikov’s famous speech to the 1948 meeting of the All-Union Congress of Soviet Composers

 

http://theremin.ru/center/lectures.htm extensive music-related site in Russian packed with primary sources

 

http://www.hist.msu.ru/ER/Etext/index.html The virtual library of the Faculty of History of Moscow University. Links to a large number of major primary sources for Russian and world history. Russian language only

Essay checklist

Make sure your essay contains the following:

  1. reference to at least ONE Russian-language source;
  2. reference to musical materials (your essay need not make use of music analysis, although, if you like this approach, you should feel free to use it but remember that this is not an analysis project); include musical examples where relevant (‘Example 1’, ‘Example 2’ and so on, appropriately titled, and properly integrated into the text of your essay [not tacked on at the end]);
  3. reference to some of the ideas we have encountered in the key texts set for this module – use the citation convention outlined in the ICMUS Guide to Citation (available on Blackboard);
  4. reference to other appropriate primary and scholarly secondary sources throughout your essay, using the citation convention outlined in the ICMUS Guide to Citation (available on Blackboard);
  5. a full bibliography, in line with the ICMUS Guide to Citation (available on Blackboard); list primary sources separately;
  6. where appropriate, a discography and/or filmography
  7. individual foreign terms or words should be italicized: Gleichschaltung or shtetl, for example; quotations from Russian sources, however, should not be italicised unless they are single words of conceptual phrases:: ‘davayte poidëm domoy’ but vtoraya revolyutsia
  8. appropriate visual materials, labelled ‘Figure 1’, ‘Figure 2’ and so on, appropriately titled, and properly integrated into the text of your essay (and not tacked on at the end);
  9. a title page giving the essay title, your name and student number, degree and stage and module code and nothing else (no pictures on title page please);
  10. all pages should be numbered on the top right.

Listening in preparation for week 1

Please try to listen to as many of the following items as you are able. This is a short overview list and is designed to give you a fast of the kinds of materials we will be looking at on this module.

‘Polyushko, polye’, sung by the Red Army Choir, music by Lev Knipper, with lyrics by Viktor Gusev in 1933

  • Click here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to listen to this on Youtube

Lev Knipper, Symphony No. 4 ”Poem of the Komsomol Fighter” in D Major, Op. 41, I. Andante maestoso – Allegro

  • Click here to hear this on Youtube

Vadim Kozin, ‘Druzhba’, available on Russian Light Songs Volume 1 (Black Round Records, 2010)

  • Click here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to hear this on Youtube

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 7 “The Leningrad”, Op. 60, I. Allegretto [

  • Click here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to listen to this on Youtube

Sergei Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 63, II. Andante

  • Click here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to listen to this on Youtube

Pokrovskiy Ensemble, ‘Porushka’, The Wild Field (Real World Records 1991)

  • Link here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to listen to this on Youtube

Aleksandr Mosolov, ‘Factory: machine-music’ [also known as ‘The Iron Foundry’] from the ballet Stal, Op. 19 (1926-7)

  • Click here to hear this on Spotify
  • Click here to listen to this on Youtube