In order for the Record Player Orchestra to have a vinyl record that all the record players could play at the same time, it became clear that one would have to be produced. This is because a number of tracks that would give a great enough variety of tones that could be combined to produce sounds would be needed and it was not possible to fine an existing record that had this and which could be found in large enough quantities.
It was also clear that this record would need a silent track so that we could hear whether the record players themselves made sound whilst playing a record. I had speculated that a silent record would have been needed to test record players once they had been manufactured to ensure that their integrity, but so far have not been able to find any evidence of the existence of such a record.
However, whilst researching how record players were tested before they left the factory I was pointed to an EMI Technical Test Record by the Sound and Vision department at the British Library.
I recognised from this EMI Technical Test Record that each note produced by a musical instrument equates to a frequency and that using a number of frequencies would provide enough notes to create scales and chords. As I did not want to use a traditional musical instrument to produce notes for this record, I used this information to produce synthesised notes based on specific frequencies. With middle ‘C’ on a piano being 440 hertz, I decided that I wanted a lower tonal range and produced 18 notes starting at C3 (130 hertz) up to F4 (349 hertz).
This provided the 18 tracks that would be side A of a vinyl record.
I wanted side B to start with the silent track and then be made up of more rhythmic tracks that would form the base for sounds from side A to played with and which could provide some structure for any composition if wanted. These tracks came about as a result of collaborating with two artist friends, Martin Thomas and Matt Robertson, and we created a variety of sounds either from directly recording the sounds that the record player made and sequencing them to create a rhythm or by experimenting with other monophonic frequencies. The resulting 7 tracks formed side B of the record.
All tracks have been made available so that participants in the Record Player Orchestra can download them and start to think about how they could be combined or used for any compositions that they might create. These compositions can then be brought to the Record Player Orchestra meetings to be played.