Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 10:25:07 -0500
From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU
Subject: Re: RE dubbing

At 09:58 AM 3/23/98 -0500, Grant Barrett wrote:
Guesswork and thoughts on "dubbing":

1. It's been five years since I worked in radio, but the term "dubbing" is
omnipresent there, to mean "making a copy to magnetic tape." The source
media is irrelevant, as long it's not live. If it's live, you're just taping
or recording it.

I knew folks in radio and the recording biz in college in the later 70s;
"dub" was already well-established then (Ann Arbor, MI).

2. I now work in advertising, and my peers seem to use "dubbing" to mean
"make an exact copy from one tape to another" usally referring to video.
Side note: they still use "reel" to indicate an archive of television
commercials we've done, even though they are now stored on half-inch or
three-quarter video cassettes rather than film reels.

I suppose everyone knows that "dub" is short for "double" -- at least, that
was the way it was explained to me, and so saith OED2.

4. Reggae music has an interesting use of the word "dubbing" to mean
something like "freestyle rhyming over a beat track or repeated musical
theme." This is more likely to be found in "dancehall reggae" and
"ragamuffin." See the works of Lee Scratch Perry whose "dub beats" are hard
to top.

This maybe grows out of the idea of "overdubbing," which is a recording term
for building up and fleshing out a piece of recorded music by adding
multiple tracks on the same tape or on the same soundboard. It's the kind of
technique you see on (e.g.) Phil Spector records from the early sixties, and
became a standard technique on almost all pop recordings from the mid/later
60s onwards (64-track recording, etc.). The reggae term is a specialization
of the earlier idea.

5. I have a feeling (whoop! whoop! guess alert!) that we're not talking
about a case of back-borrowing here. If we could get ahold of a user's
manual from any dual-deck magnetic tape device from the early days of the
technology, I suspect we will find the word "dub" in some form there.

Yes, I would suspect "dub" as a music-creation technique goes back to at
least the fifties; you can hear the technique on a number of recordings from
that period. As a term for simple copying of a recording, who knows how far
back it goes? OED dub v.5 has a first cite from 1929. The word is used for a
number of different copying techniques in the various OED cites.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]