Old Schooled Feeling (Syncing - Part Two - The Retort)

Technics turntable

That dreaded button. "Push and Play", this representation on our current realities has reached into the sound booth. Gasp!! In a world, where songs drop in rapid succession in a cosmic race to cash in on the newest loops of the month. It is really no wonder that a computer generated song gets processed in an algor-rhythmic sound booth. Lets back it up to the era of vinyl... you're about to be schooled...

In the pre-digital time of vinyl, where releases were costly, it was not uncommon that a song was played for months if not years. You didn't purchase a onetime only song. An exception to that was if the resident talent was in a record pool and everything needed floor time (to give feedback and to remain in the pool). It just didn't happen as an overall experience. It was also common practice to purchase more than one copy of a record in consideration of the length of time it would be played for. This was done for live remixing purposes (another lost art-form). The name of the game was stretch the investment while keeping it fun for the patrons. Remixing was extremely competitive. It divided the record spinners from the DJs. This is how the remixing movement started. We got good at it.

Most clubs maintained what is called a Beat Book or Bible. This was the complete representation and catalogue of the whole collection. In this time, clubs purchased the music. It was an investment. The Bible was the inventory on thousands of records potentially covering decades (70's, 80's and 90's). Most were very protective over this book. After all, what was in it?

Let's start with song, artist, year, location in collection, remix, speed (no software used), key (was just done by ear). Two methods of calculating speed were possible. The more popular was BPM the other was called relative tempo. BPMs were calculated by how many beats were heard in a minute. Honestly, I'd love to watch someone manually calculating this for say just 10 songs. It is way more difficult that you can actually imagine. Usually, several recounts were needed. The other method used was how long does it take (in 100's of seconds) for a song to play 16 bars. It required you drop the first beat exactly and start the time capture using a decimal stopwatch, but not too fast, nor slow, or you'll start it over again knowing the measure would be off... picture doing this while mentally counting 1,2,3,4 - 16 times with the stopwatch in the other hand stopping it exactly at the end of the last beat. Good luck. Why?? Accuracy.

Whether using relative tempo or BPMs was largely due to the turntable equipment in the sound booth. Before 1200's (it's ok... take deep breaths) and after the speed variant belt driven were the Royal Royce of tables for the time. The SL-1500 MK2 or the SL-1400 MK2. The workhorse of almost every dance club of the day. Limited release (between 77-79) and magnetically quartz-locked with a simple visualized digital display.

First sync capable turntable

You see, time is a measure. Having that variance between two songs and knowing the constant provided by the quartz accuracy on these (0.03%) meant you could use a calculator in the booth. Beat Books were designed behind this well kept secret. Math is still the tool behind that green back-lit sync-button, and also before, for the inquisitive at heart.Example: 120 BPM = 32.000 RT > 128 BPM = 30.000 RT (answer is above). These tables were so accurate you could record the variance between two songs and go back five years later and set the speed and the mix was beat-matched.