Sunday, December 21, 2008

Karlheinz Stockhausen

A few days ago I came across an article about the German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. This picture accompanied the article. Notice the 1/4" reel-to-reel audio recorders in the background. Now look at the amazing gadgets that the tape loops around. They look like triple-stacks of spindles, mounted on spring-loaded tension arms, mounted to heavy floor stands. What on earth are those things? Anybody know?

Stockhausen might achieve greater fame for his appearance on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band". Back row, fifth from the left.

3 comments:

Old Grouch said...

My best guess is that it's a time delay... tape is recorded on one machine, runs through x feet of loop, then plays back on the second.

Ampex used to build an instrumentation recorder that did this sort of thing all in one box. Heads were arranged (in direction of tape motion) play-erase-record. After passing the heads the tape ran through a series of pulleys that could hold about a minute's worth of tape, then looped back to the begining. The playback lagged the recording by (tape length)/(tape speed), and at any time you had that much information in the loop. Great for capturing the data leading up to some unpredictable event.

Turk Turon said...

That's a very good guess!

It looks like the tape leaves and returns to the same ATR. But could they mount a take-off just after the record head, and a return just before the playback head? That would do the trick.

It seems to me that using two machines to create a delay would produce tape-tensioning problems. But maybe that's what those long tension-arms are designed to manage.

phlegmfatale said...

That guy looks like a hot bag of sex.