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.
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|A1—A118||Los Angeles||May 1924|
|B1—B108||New York||July 1924—September 1924|
|C100—C8282||Chicago||January 1926—December 1931|
|C381—C412||St. Louis||June 1926|
|C534—C585||St. Louis||July 1926|
|Ch1—Ch423||Chicago||January 1924—February 1925|
|Ch255—Ch301||St. Louis||October 1924|
|Ch325—Ch336||St. Louis||November 1924|
|Ch371—Ch379||St. Louis||January 1925|
|Ch382—Ch392||St. Louis||February 1925|
|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|
|HKC1000—HKC1171||Hong Kong||February 1931|
|JK1000—JK1039||Chicago||ca. April 1930|
|KC579—KC620||Kansas City||November 1929|
|LA1—LA240||Los Angeles||May 1925—May 1927|
|LAE1—LA1206||Los Angeles||December 1927—November 1931|
|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|
|MP1—MP37||Minneapolis||ca. March 1929|
|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|
|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|
|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:
Brunswick Test Recordings
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|Test C37||New York||September 1924|
|TC144||New York||May 1925|
|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.