Folk Songs Jump from Vinyl to CD
By: Kim Magi
A project to restore old 78’s containing historical Doukhobor folk songs is now complete, and the results are available for purchase.
Larry Ewashen, curator for the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, said that this project has been several months in the making and involved a lengthy restoration process through Ron Mahonin, a music producer who lives in Grand Forks.
The records that were digitalized involved 32 songs recorded in the 1940s and 1950s, recorded by singers that toured through Alberta, Saskatchewan and other Doukhobor communities, and the songs are mainly about love and Russian heroes.
Mahonin explained that all the records were in mono, meaning they had one very shallow signal. He removed all the blips, clicks and hisses manually and then cleaned the file up again digitally.
He went through each file “layer by layer, removing the noise, degree by degree. Much like how they restore old paintings – taking off layer by layer of dirt or old paint, until you get to the ‘raw stuff,’” said Mahonin.
To make the file sparkle, he then converted it from mono to stereo.
“But taking a mono signal and simply converting it to stereo doesn’t really do anything,” said Mahonin.
He said that the signal is then split and the music producer is able to control the software to put certain frequencies out of sync.
“It’s far more intricate and scientific then to just delay the entire left or right side by a millisecond, and would not give you the ‘spacial spread’ that this method gives,” said Mahonin. “It doesn’t actually ‘make the record’ stereo, but it has many of the same characteristics that actually make for stereo sound.”
Mahonin then manipulated and recreated frequencies that weren’t present on the original records in order to hear the frequencies that make up the music.
“Basically, it would be like turning down the treble and turning down the bass on your home stereo, entirely,” Mahonin said.
The project and remastering is a lot more involved than people think, Mahonin said.
Funding for the project came from the Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.
The finished CDs are now available to purchase at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, and Ewashen said they’ve already sold some in the few short days that they have been available.