A Journey in Audio Editing History: Part 3

What I like most when journeying for fun is to temporarily abandon the main route to explore something that catches my attention along the track. While tape audio editing is the main topic of this multi-part post, there’s something I’d like to discuss for a moment.

We talked about stutter-editing (in part 1) and looping (in part 2), two techniques that remind the use of digital samplers. Now the question is: is there any point of contact between such different technologies as analog tape machines and digital samplers?

The answer is, yes, analog samplers. Here is a video about a drum machine based on tape loops. The device is monophonic, having a single magnetic head that the operator can manually move from one loop to another.

A more advanced device, used in albums by Beatles and Pink Floyd, is the Mellotron. This is a polyphonic device, having a magnetic head for each individual tape loop. Here is a vintage demo video presenting the Mellotron.

This video captures a maintenance procedure allowing to see the internal tape pack. Tapes are visible side by side, mounted on a frame. Each individual tape corresponds to a key on the keyboard, and to its dedicated magnetic head.


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