Celebrating audiovisual heritage

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Audiovisual and Music

Broken disc Hocken Collections

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is held annually on October 27th to raise awareness of collections of audiovisual objects around the world in various institutions. While this celebratory day has passed, it is always advantageous to draw attention to the importance of audiovisual collections and to their fragility.

It is worth remembering that audiovisual materials are very important primary records of the 20th and 21st century. Countless major historical moments of the last 100 years have been captured in film, or on sound recordings. Many of these recordings are now iconic, for example footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Edison blue amberol cylinder. Hocken Collections; uncatalogued.

However, much audiovisual material has been lost, or is in danger of disappearing. Purposeful destruction, decay and obsolescence of format, and neglect are some of the factors that contribute to much of this cultural loss. The theme for the 2014 World Audiovisual Heritage Day was “Archives at risk: Much more to do”. Audiovisual collections are often at risk because of the inherent fragility of the materials used : all audiovisual heritage is endangered.

Damaged shellac 78rpm disc.

In New Zealand,audiovisual collections are held in many institutions, including the Hocken Collections, and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Preservation programmes are undertaken to ensure the survival of these precious items, though often these are hampered by lack of resources. Audiovisual digitisation and preservation is highly skilled and labour intensive work. But the collections that are in the care of institutions, archives and libraries are highly valued and we do our best. Apart from preserving sound and images for the future digitisation can improve access to AV collections. Many people know of their existence, but often not the depth of the collections. Making digital copies available online brings them to a new audience.Broken disc Hocken Collections

The Hocken Collections has many different formats of audiovisual material. Formats such as cylinder, open reel tape (ORT), and 16mm film are challenging to for us to digitise, as suitable equipment is often difficult to source. Film reels are a precious source of historical content and information, and we have very pleased to have preserved the Hocken’s motion picture films with the help of the local Film Heritage Trust. A sound format that presents interesting preservation issues is the 16” transcription disc – turntables need be larger than usual and require a longer tonearm to accommodate the disc size. Rare and unique material is part of the Hocken’s collection, and we are currently building our capacity to care for this material using the highest standards and best practice.

The images presented here include three broken 78rpm discs that we have in our collections, though they have been removed from circulation! The was cylinder is not broken. They are all extremely fragile, and care is required in handling them. This is only one example of how delicately balanced the preservation of audiovisual material can be, and how vulnerable the content and the carrier (formats) are.

The Ziggy Stardust Band

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

The title of this album (and band name) will be very familiar… but this is not the David Bowie creation! The Ziggy Stardust Band is the brainchild of Errol Barker (former cycle racing sensation) of Christchurch, and he recorded a number of albums under this guise. In the mid-1980s, Barker arrived at the doors of Nightshift Studios, and asked to record some music there. The studio’s engineer Arnold van Bussell agreed, and Barker returned with his drum machine, and a pre-recorded cassette of his guitar playing. After recording his vocal tracks, and some studio trickery (including what van Bussell called outrageous effects), the product was completed.

ZiggyStardustAlbum

And what does the Ziggy Stardust band album sound like? With song titles like Monstrocities, Human Boy and Schizophrenic Hotel, you might expect a sci-fi theme to be running through the record. To my surprise, the album has a Gothic Rock sound, with the strong, clinical backbeat of a drum machine. Barker’s free-form, reverbed guitar sounds ricochet off the space within the songs, and often have a siren-like effect – possibly due to van Bussell’s treatments. The vocals are half-spoken and mannered, more in the vein of Nick Cave than David Bowie, and this is used to great effect on Schizophrenic Hotel, which reworks the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Most interesting are the instrumental tracks, which are soundscapes that focus on individual sounds rather than melodic hooks.

There is very little information on Barker and his musical creations, and after recording as the Ziggy Stardust band he dropped off the musical radar. According to van Bussel, Errol Barker still lives in Christchurch, and is still making interesting guitar sounds.

Thanks to Ian Chapman and Arnold van Bussel for information.

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian, Music and Audio-Visual

The Chills and Shane Cotton – Somewhere Beautiful

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Amanda Mills – Music/AV Liaison Librarian, Hocken Collections

Somewhere Beautiful by The Chills and Shane Cotton

New Zealand Music Month has finished yet again! While overall Hocken Collections had a quiet month, music wise, this year we played a significant part in the launch of The Chills new live album Somewhere Beautiful, held on May 31st. The recording is not your typical album release. A triple LP set in a double gatefold cover (45rpm speed, on heavy 200gram vinyl); the live album is housed in a 24” portfolio box, with original diptych prints by renowned artist Shane Cotton. Cotton’s artwork for the package is called Rolling Moon (after The Chills’ song), and the prints are mixed media, with metal foil and additional materials. Each print is unique, with different lyrics from Somewhere Beautiful silk screened onto the images. These will be collectors’ items – only 150 have been produced, and are a wonderful example of how art and music interweave, especially as Martin Phillipps’ (The Chills lead singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter) lyrics’ are vivid with imagery, and ripe for interpretation.

 

Rolling Moon by Shane Cotton

The launch for Somewhere Beautiful was a gathering to celebrate both the work of Martin Phillipps and The Chills, and Shane Cotton, and this extraordinary collaboration.  All were in attendance (including Chills members Erica Stichbury, Oli Wilson, James Dickson, and Todd Knudson), and both Phillipps and Cotton spoke about the work. Phillipps also played a solo four song set where he performed ‘Pink Frost’, ‘Male Monster From the Id’, ‘House with A Hundred Rooms’, and new song ‘Molten Gold’ to an appreciative crowd.

Display of Chills material in the Hocken Foyer

Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell and I also collaborated with Phillipps and his manager Scott Muir to produce a postcard to commemorate the event, using an iconic piece from Phillipps’ collection. We were lucky to be able to use the leather jacket, immortalised in The Chills’ song ‘I Love My Leather Jacket’ for the postcard image. We felt very fortunate to be included in such a wonderful event!

 

Music at Hocken

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

It’s New Zealand Music Month, and a good time to (re)introduce the Hocken recorded music collection! We currently have over 16,000 items in various formats (vinyl, CD, 78rpm discs and cassettes), and are increasing our collection holdings constantly. We collect all genres of New Zealand music (with special emphasis on Otago and Southland recordings), and acquire major current releases, as well as all releases and re-releases from the re-born Flying Nun label.
CD stacks at the Hocken
We don’t only collect current music on CD. While CDs still dominate as a physical format, the not-so-humble vinyl LP and 7” disc have made a recent resurgence. A number of major New Zealand releases have been issued on vinyl, including Crowded House’s Intriguer, Flight of the Conchords’ I Told You I Was Freaky, the upcoming Ladyhawke album Anxiety, and The Veils Sun Gangs. Vinyl releases from local artists such as Opposite Sex, The Aesthetics, The Futurians, and Onanon have also been acquired for Hocken’s collection, as have vinyl re-releases by The Dead C, The Bats and the 3Ds. The recent boutique (400 copies only) Toy Love album Live at the Gluepot, was a vinyl only release, available only from Real Groovy on International Record Store Day (http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home). Considering the band’s Dunedin roots (they started as The Enemy), it was vital we obtained a copy (which we did)! The album sold out on the day, and is now out-of-print, and in-demand. More details can be found here http://www.toylove.co.nz
Parlophone 78rpm disc label from 1927

Much of Hocken’s music is rare. The earliest recording held is a 78rpm disc of Wellington baritone John Prouse singing ‘The Maid of Morven’, recorded in London in 1905. We hold the first New Zealand recordings – concert performances of Ana Hato and Deane Waretini from 1927. Early Flying Nun releases are also rare (and valuable), as many have never been re-issued, and are viewed enthusiastically by international and local collectors. We are fortunate to hold such an extensive collection of these rarities, and we invite you to come and (re)discover our music. More information on Hocken’s music collections can be found here http://library.otago.ac.nz/hocken/music.html.

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and AV

Dr Mervyn McLean donation of Maori and Pacific Music

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

One of our most significant donations in 2009 was the Dr Mervyn McLean collection of Maori and Cook Islands music. The collection has been added to the archives and manuscripts section of the Library and is catalogued under the call number ARC-0613. It is fully listed on the Hakena catalogue.
Right: Dr Mclean, Anne McLean and Professor John Drummond at the Hocken Collections 2009 Donors event.

Dr McLean is acknowledged world wide as an authority on the music of Oceania, particularly traditional Maori music. A graduate of the University of Otago, Dr McLean was the founding Head of the Archive of  Maori and Pacific Music at the University of Auckland from 1970 until his retirement in 1992. The collection that has been donated to the Hocken is Dr McLean’s personal collection of the original tapes, notes, transcriptions and translations of the waiata, cds and mint copies of his books. The material relates mainly to NZ Maori with recordings dating back to 1958, but also includes 30 hours of material recorded in Aitutaki and Mangaia in 1967. Although it duplicates what is already available through the Auckland archive, this generous donation will allow more researchers to access the material here at the in Dunedin. The collection will be useful to iwi, musicians, historians, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists and other researchers who will be able to listen to the recordings through the digital copies, and read the notations and transcripts.