Yesterday morning, I received an email from a former student. Bruce studied music at CSU Northridge in early 80s. He took my recording and electronic music courses. That was a very long time ago. I left CSUN in 1986 and taught at the California Institute of the Arts for several years before settling in at CSU Dominguez Hills 17 years ago. I can’t honestly say that I remember all of my students…after all there must be thousands of them by now…but I do remember Bruce.
The subject line of the email was “work inquiry”. Possible work always manages to get my attention. When I read the email, I learned that Bruce had found his niche in the world of music copying. The job of a music copyist is to take a manuscript (the original musical notes as written down by a composer or an arranger) and create a publisher ready score and parts. It’s not an easy job and requires a variety of skills. Obviously, you have to know music and music notation as well as the calligraphy techniques of using pen and ink on vellum (the old school method). Bruce apprenticed at an independent copy shop in SoCal. He apprenticed from a master copyist and also introduced him to the emerging world of digital music copying and engraving. I also did a bunch of music copying work for a well know film/television composer back in the late 70s and 80s…it was fun but always intense. Getting a score and parts done accurately and on time for a session was demanding.
Bruce eventually ended up making his living copying music for the late Bulgarian born Henri Lazarof (April 12, 1932 – December 29, 2013), a respected contemporary composer and Professor Emeritus at UCLA. Henri Lazarof was one of my composition teachers while I was studying for my doctorate at that institution. It’s a very small world. I half expected Bruce to say that he had mentioned my name as his mentor only to learn that Henri was one of my mentors…but that’s not why he was writing.
Henri Lazarof passed away late last year. Several of his colleagues and former students took on the task of sorting through his papers, scores, recordings, and anything else that they found in his bungalow behind his home. When the subject of what to do about the analog tapes, DAT tapes, and even the vinyl LPs in the collection, Bruce thought of me. That’s why he was reaching out to me after all of these years. Henri’s widow Janice wants to preserve and catalog all of the materials and perhaps donate the collection to an institution. The tapes need to be digitized and I’m just the person to do it.
I spoke with another former UCLA student this morning about the process and the formats that should be created from the analog masters. I suggested that the analog tapes be digitized using 96/192 kHz/24-bit PCM, stored on the cloud, on multiple solid state drives, and on optical discs…either CDs or DVDs. We talked about the possibility of “baking” the tapes if they prove problematic during the transfer. I assured him that using a low-tension tape transport like my Nagra IV-S with its QGB large reel adapter would be an ideal machine to use for the transfers in combination with a Benchmark ADC-1 digital converter.
The list of tapes is quite long. Henri Lazarof was a very prolific composer and his archive is extensive. I’m looking forward to hearing his works while I make digital copies of the tapes. It’s been 30 years since I left UCLA and I had not been in contact with Professor Lazarof in the intervening years. I only wish I had known about his passing. I would have liked to attend the memorial concerts that took place.
Henri Lazarof died at the age of 81.