Many tape recording club members also belonged to ‘tape-sponding’ circles or triangles. The term ‘tape-sponding’ means, quite literally, correspondence by tape. As tape recorders became more widely available there developed a trend for communication by tape. Special 3″ reels were produced with designs that featured slogans like ‘Links Absent Friends’ or ‘Voice Letter’. They included space for an address and a stamp on the box like a postcard. It was an excellent way for families and friends separated by great distances to keep in touch. These ‘letters on tape’ were sent all over the world. There is something far more personal about hearing the actual voices of loved ones, the subtle nuances, inflections and idiosyncrasies of the voice that a pen and paper couldn’t begin to emulate. For a time there were also ‘tape-sponding’ clubs – people who had never met would record messages to each other sending them around the country like pen-pals. Sometimes these tapes would be sent around a circle, each person adding their message as the tape was passed along.
Since the first tape message I discovered at Paddies Market twenty years ago I have been collecting these found recordings and incorporating them into my own compositions.