Monday, April 12

West Bengal: This February, check out German machine, vinyl used to record Rabindranath Tagore’s renditions

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Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) is set to showcase a German machine that was used to record the renderings of poems and songs by Rabindranath Tagore. In April 1932, Tagore had recorded the poem, ‘Jokhon hobo babar moto boro’, and the song, ‘Tobu mone rekho’. The vinyl gramophone record containing his voice will also be showcased along with a gramophone, on which the record will be played.

The Georg Neumann disc recording machine that cut lathes for phonograph discs or vinyl records was imported by Hindusthan Musical Products Ltd from Germany in 1931 and installed at their recording studio in early 1932. The first voice to be recorded on the machine was that of Tagore, then 71. The renderings constituted the first Hindusthan Gramophone record released as serial No. H-1.

The German firm Georg Neumann GmbH had been founded only three years before the VMS70 disc-cutting lathe was imported to India. The machine was donated to BITM by Hindusthan Musical Products Ltd in May 1970. At the time, it was valued at Rs 7,500.

One of the discs on which Kabiguru’s renderings were recorded will not only be on display, but will also be played on an old His Master’s Voice gramophone. The wind-up model grapmophone was donated to BITM by Barin Kumar Ghosh the same time that the recording machine was and its value was pegged at a pricely Rs 100.

“We will exhibit these items in early-February. These artefacts will be the crowd-pullers in the exhibition where several other things will be displayed, including a kerosene-powered table fan and a telegraph machine that has now been phased out. We will give a demonstration on how Morse code was used to transmit messages,” said BITM director VS Ramachandran.

BITM has another connection with the bard. These premises — now 19A, Gurusaday Road, and earlier 18, Ballygunge Store Road — were purchased by the Tagore family from Mirza Abdul Karim in 1898. Meera Devi, the fourth of Rabindranath Tagore’s five children, spent a large part of her childhood in this house.

GD Birla bought the property from Surendranath Tagore in 1919 and it remained with the Birla family till its conversion into a museum in 1959.


Source: Times of India

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