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Frequently Asked Questions...

What is the difference between a song and a march?

A song is a melody that is accompanied by lyrics or words that are performed using human voices either solo or in unison – hence, it is something that is sung. A march is an instrumental piece that in its essentials is used, as the name implies, as processional music that is harmonious with movement of people or horses at a designated pace.

The German Parademarsch (in either “Tempo 80” or “Tempo 114”) is the ultimate expression of the march as a processional piece, used as it was by military units that required uniformity of movement and timing among all the individuals in their complement. Marches can also be instrumental pieces used for such static military activities as presenting arms or standing at attention.

There also exists a vast number of instrumental pieces called “marches” that were written solely to provide musical accompaniment for ceremonial functions and special occasions, which are not particularly suitable for keeping “in step” at all.

What is the difference between acoustic and electrical recordings?
Sound carrier technology was born through experimentation with wax cylinders in the 1880’s and acoustic recording was the method used in the creation of the first fixed transcriptions of sound ever made. In the acoustic or mechanical recording system, the actual sound waves produced by the performer (who would sing, talk or play into a small horn) directly operated a mechanism that cut a groove into a wax master.

Acoustically recorded sound had inherent limitations - the top frequencies were triple C — 2,088 vibrations per second — and the low remained at E — 164 vibrations per second. Voices and instruments (especially stringed instruments) were rigidly confined within these boundaries, and conductors often had to choose their orchestration and even the placement of their instruments with these strictures in mind.

In 1925, the electrical broadcasting microphone was introduced into recording studios. In the electrical system, the sound waves do not operate the recording mechanism directly. Instead, a microphone diaphragm receives them and transmits them as amplified electric currents to a special cutting head that engraves the grooves on the master.

In contrast to acoustic recording, which was limited by the available decibel-power of the performers, electrical recording enabled record producers to reach high and low frequency ranges that were previously considered unattainable. A whisper fifty feet away, echoes, and even the ambient sounds of an opera house could be recorded, things that were hitherto deemed impossible. Because of its enormously greater range and sensitivity, the electric microphone revolutionized gramophone recording overnight.

Do recordings on Brandenburg CD's actually date from the periods depicted?

Yes! In addition to this, all performer / artist details are scrupulously and honestly presented in the literature accompanying our CDs. Unlike the slickly mislabeled but ultimately cheap productions of some of the "competition" (for whom marketing always trumps scholarship, and who provide no booklets with their CDs because doing so requires in-depth knowledge, considerable expense and last but not least hard work), no instance of misrepresentation of source recordings has ever been documented on any of our CDs. We would not do this in any case, because we automatically assume that our customers are
informed on the subject matter, not easily fooled, and (most importantly) deserving of honest treatment.

Our productions have been reviewed - and highly praised - by the most exacting judges of all, namely the scholars and record collectors of the International Military Music Society, since our first release in 2005. Some of these reviews can be read in the detail pages of each Brandenburg CD for sale in our store.

What is involved in remastering?

Denoising. Declicking, Decrackling. Boosting the level of certain EQ frequencies while minimizing others. Manually removing particularly egregious pops and thumps. Reworking recordings that were originally made for play on hand-wound mechanical turntables (sometimes with sound reproduction through metal horns) to take advantage of the greater frequency ranges afforded by modern technology. Having an array of stylii that can be fitted to a tone arm head shell ad hoc to squeeze the utmost sound out of decades-old discs with no two wear patterns alike. Knowing what the music and the records are supposed to sound like. Doing all of the above while making sure that the sound is brought back to life to the greatest degree possible and avoiding at all costs any hint of overprocessing, which can lead to an “artificial”, unpleasant sounding result.

What remastering decidedly cannot do is add such elements as specific instruments or voices to a recording, if these were totally lacking in the original performance.  

What is the sound quality like on remastered pre-1945 recordings? 

That takes in a lot of territory. Many acoustic recordings, if remastered correctly, can sound surprisingly warm and rich - and certainly not tinny. Electrical recordings, which first made their appearance in 1925, can yield fantastic results from just a little (or a lot of) tweaking, depending upon how well they were recorded by the original engineers. In addition, in the case of any record, the source disc's condition and state of preservation is decisive.

Background noise can be removed almost completely if desired, though the purists among us (ourselves included) prefer to know that they’re listening to music from a genuine 78rpm record, even though it may now be coming to us through a CD player. Real 78 enthusiasts report that shellac records with a properly weighted tone arm impart ”warmth” of sound that just cannot be found anywhere else and we feel we have done a good job transmitting this intangible quality in our compilation CDs.

What real remastered 78’s do not sound like are the suspiciously modern-sounding wares that have been copied from 1970’s LP’s (and 1990’s CDs) and marketed by "questionable" individuals on the Internet as “vintage,” pre-1945 recordings. A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds too good to have been transcribed from a 78rpm record (defeating the purpose of buying a “vintage” recording in any case) – it probably wasn’t! 

Why is scholarship important in the production of music CDs?

Scholarship is of paramount importance to any archival music production, whether it is German military music, classical music or folk music. Simply put, scholarship and research guarantee that producers know what they are releasing and customers know what they are buying.

Foreign language skills are especially vital for those researching music and vintage recordings from a country other than their own, while a detailed knowledge of that country’s cultural, musical and political history is also of great importance.

A background of historical knowledge with musical expertise allows the producer to see relationships between musical pieces and recordings that might otherwise be missed, something which can make all the difference between a ho-hum collection of disconnected musical pieces and a coherent, dynamic, themed production that truly captures the essence of a bygone era or place.
Are Brandenburg CD's professionally replicated in a CD replicating plant?

Yes! By one of the leaders in the industry. Professional replication from a glass master differs from the process of “burning” a writeable CD, as the pits and lands of a glass-mastered CD are directly molded into the CD, in contrast to the “burn marks” or phase changes created by a CD burner. Professionally replicated CDs are longer lasting and of higher overall quality than cheap, home-burned CD-Rs.

How long has Brandenburg Historica been in operation?

Brandenburg Historica was founded in 1996. We launched our Brandenburg music label with our acclaimed compilation CD Gott, Kaiser, Vaterland: Military and Patriotic Music of Imperial Germany in 2005.

Copyright © 1996-2014 Brandenburg Historica LLC. All Rights Reserved.