Brunswick Matrix Series

Brunswick Records: A Discography of Recordings, 1916-1931, compiled by Ross Laird.

The original Brunswick matrix series was a simple chronological straight numeric sequence which probably began at 1 or 100 in 1916. The earliest masters were vertical recordings which were released only in Canada. Due to their limited distribution these discs are quite rare and full details are unknown for many recordings in the early part of this series. The earliest known master in the original matrix series is 347 and nothing is known of any earlier recordings.

All recordings made prior to April 1928 were allocated a separate master number for each take. By the time the Canadian-distributed Brunswick label was discontinued in 1919, the vertical masters had reached at least 2280 and subsequent masters in the same series are mainly lateral recordings made for release on the new Brunswick label launched on the American market in January 1920. There seems to have been a brief period of overlap in the early 2000s when both vertical and lateral recordings were being made, but by the mid-2000s all recordings were lateral and no further vertical recordings were ever released on Brunswick.

The basic numerical sequence continued on throughout Brunswick’s corporate history and despite several changes of ownership in the early 1930s no significant changes were made to the original master series concept. Most recordings in this “main” matrix series were made in New York. But as early as mid-1923, a block of numbers in this series was assigned to masters brought back from Brunswick’s first field recording expedition to the West Coast which returned via the North West and Chicago. Subsequently, other blocks of numbers in this series were allocated to masters made in locations other than New York (and those with unique prefixes are listed below). Between 1926 and 1928 all masters recorded in other locations (such as Los Angeles or Chicago) were routinely allocated duplicate master numbers in the main series.

From as early as 1920 all 12” recordings used numbers in the main matrix series with an “X” prefix. When Brunswick began electric recording in 1925, recordings made using this process were given an “E” prefix. As electric recording was initially an experimental procedure, there was no cut-off date from which all recordings were electrical. The first electric recording noted in the ledgers is master E15466 (made on April 7, 1925), but the acoustic recording process continued to be used for many recordings after that date.

Other prefixes were also used in the “main” series (and the significance of some of these is still not understood). Several examples are noted in the discographical listings. By 1931 some masters were being prefixed “YE” to indicate they were 16” electrical transcriptions.

Some prefixes in the “main” Brunswick series indicate recordings made in specific locations other than New York (Mundelein, Montreal, Plattsburg, Toronto and Havana). These are listed in the table below which sets out details of a wide range of Brunswick series with specific prefixes other than those mentioned above. The vast majority of these were used by various field recording expeditions (and for details of these recordings see the discographical listings in Volume 3).

After the Vocalion label was acquired by Brunswick in late 1924 a specific master series was established for recordings intended to be released on Vocalion. It began at N100W in December 1924 and in line with the “main” Brunswick series the prefix changed to “E” for all electrical recordings in 1925. The first Vocalion electrical recording noted in the ledgers is E779W which was made on May 2, 1925. However, the acoustic process continued to be used for many Vocalion recordings over the next few months. The final allocation in this series was master E7514 in July 1928 after which the series was discontinued and all subsequent Vocalion recordings use the same master series as those used for Brunswick recordings.

Most other master series not mentioned above are included in the following table which gives the known range for each series, the location or purpose indicated by the prefix, and the time period during which the series was in use.

Table 1:

Brunswick Masters

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A1—A118 Los Angeles May 1924
A119—A142 Chicago May 1924
AL1OO—ALJ28 Ashland February 1928
AMM700—AMM724 Manila November 1929
AMM800—AMM900 Manila February 1931
AT326-1/2—AT395 Atlanta March 1928
ATL905—ATL999 Atlanta March 1930
ATL6295—ATL6699 Atlanta November 1930
ATL8000—ATL8021 Atlanta March 1930
B1—B108 New York July 1924—September 1924
BIRM769—BIRM815 Birmingham November 1928
C100—C8282 Chicago January 1926—December 1931
C235—C252 Toronto April 1926
C253—C284 Cleveland May 1926
C380 Springfield June 1926
C381—C412 St. Louis June 1926
C534—C585 St. Louis July 1926
C586—C589 Cleveland September 1926
C7600—C7617 Omaha March-April 1931
Ch1—Ch423 Chicago January 1924—February 1925
Ch177—Ch234 Cleveland October 1924
Ch255—Ch301 St. Louis October 1924
Ch325—Ch336 St. Louis November 1924
Ch371—Ch379 St. Louis January 1925
Ch382—Ch392 St. Louis February 1925
CN100—CN111 Chicago February 1928
DAL447—DAL568 Dallas October-November 1929
DAL676—DAL746 Dallas October 1928
DAL6743—DAL6799 Dallas November 1930
DAL7000—DAL7003 Dallas November 1930 
DEf300—DEf301 Detroit ca. March 1929
EP225—EP254 El Paso March 1929
EP8042—EP8085 El Paso September 1931
HKA 1200—HKA 1279 Amoy February 1931
HKC400—HKC647 Canton November 1929
HKC1000—HKC1171 Hong Kong February 1931
HV524—HV563 Havana May 1928
HV30450—HV30501 Havana September 1929
HV32975—HV33028 Havana June 1930
IND622—IND666 Indianapolis June 1928
JK1000—JK1039 Chicago ca. April 1930
K100—K167 Knoxville August 1929
K8022—K8113 Knoxville March—April 1930
KC579—KC620 Kansas City November 1929
LA1—LA240 Los Angeles May 1925—May 1927
LAE1—LA1206 Los Angeles December 1927—November 1931
LAE58—LAE174 Honolulu March 1928
LAE279—LAE282 San Francisco September 1928
LAE308—LAE325 San Francisco October—November 1928
LAE371—LAE383 San Francisco December 1928
LAE422—LAE423 San Francisco February 1929
LAE529—LAE538 San Francisco June 1929
LAE602—LAE613 San Francisco August 1929
LTR1—LTR340 Los Angeles ?December 1927—October 1930
LTRI76—LTRI84 San Francisco June 1929
LTR212—LTR213 San Francisco August 1929
M175—M217 Memphis September 1929
M816—M853 Memphis November 1928
ME36326—ME36412 Montreal March 1931
MEM730—MEM807 Memphis February 1930 
MP1—MP37 Minneapolis  ca. March 1929
MP700—MP726 Minneapolis January 1930
MX564—MX62l Mexico City May 1928
NO100—NO137 New Orleans September—October 1929
NO6700—NO6742 New Orleans November 1930
NOR747—NOR768 New Orleans November 1928
PB396—PB529 Plattsburgh April 1928
PB30200—PB30287 Plattsburgh July 1929
SA138—SA218 San Antonio March 1929
SA269—SA446 San Antonio October 1929
SA814—SA904? San Antonio March 1930
SA7004—SA7090 San Antonio December 1930
SA8000—SA8041 San Antonio August—September 1931
STL854—STL857 St. Louis November 1928
TOR36775—TOR36778 Toronto April 1931
VO100—VO184 Chicago January 1931—0ctober 1931
VO1000—VO1078 New York January 1931—August 1931 
WP667—WP674 West Point ca. June 1928

In addition to the above “dedicated” matrix series, Brunswick used a complex and confusing range of numbering systems for test recordings. In some cases no masters at all were allocated to test recordings, while more commonly a “T” prefix was simply added to a number from the normal matrix series in use at the studio in question. However, there does seem to have been a series devoted to test recordings, which is referred to here and there in the ledgers. The following examples suggest that this series began sometime in 1924 and ran until at least 1926:

Table 2:

Brunswick Test Recordings

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Test C37 New York September 1924
TC144 New York May 1925
TC984 Springfield June 1926
TC985-TC1014 St. Louis June 1926
TC1047-TC1050 New York July 1926

Further details are lacking. The later “TCL” series may be a continuation of this series.

TCL1440-TCL1552 New York January 1931-December 1931

Other “foreign” Brunswick matrix series also appear on various releases at this time. These are mainly of European or South American origin, and are not included in the above table which lists only recording sessions arranged or organized by the U.S. Brunswick organization.


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Brunswick Records: A Discography of Recordings, 1916-1931  (4 vols). Compiled by Ross Laird. Reprinted by permission.