The device, successor to the MAGNETIC WIRE recorder, which since the 1940s (when it was called the sound mirror) has been the most commonly used means of storing and reproducing an AUDIO signal. Today, the Digital Audio Tape (DAT) recorder has replaced the older reel-to-reel machines in many studios (see DIGITAL RECORDING, MAGNETIC TAPE).
In an analog tape recorder, the electrical input SIGNAL, from a MICROPHONE for instance, is imprinted onto magnetic tape where the variation in current is stored as a variation in magnetic polarity of the oxide particles on the tape (see diagrams under EMULSION). The transferral of the acoustic signal to a material form has held great consequences for analysis and composition in the way it allows repetition, storage and transformation of the original sound.
See: MUSIQUE CONCRETE, ORAL HISTORY, SCHIZOPHONIA, TAPE MUSIC, TAPE RECORDING. Compare: GRAMOPHONE, SOUND SYNTHESIS.
As well, the tape recorder is an essential tool for SOUNDSCAPE studies, in that environmental sounds may be recorded and preserved (of particular importance with DISAPPEARING SOUNDs), thereby allowing their analysis and study at a later date. Such sound recordings may also be used compositionally to elucidate aspects of the soundscape, such as by isolating, juxtaposing or mixing certain rhythms, timbral qualities, or other acoustic patterns in ways that do not normally occur. These techniques explore sound association, MORPHOLOGY and symbolism in the sense that form and meaning are constantly derived from new relationships.
For other aspects related to analog tape recording see: BULK ERASER, CROSSTALK, DIFFUSION, DROPOUT, DUBBING, EMULSION, EQUALIZATION, FLUTTER, MIXING, MONTAGE, PHASING, PRINT-THROUGH, SOUND-ON-SOUND, SPLICE, tape ECHO, tape FEEDBACK, TAPE LOOP, TEMPOPHONE, TRACK, VU METER, WOW.