Friday, March 28, 2008

Oldest Known Recorded Voice Sings Another Day

The BBC News recently reported that U.S. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California have retrieved a sound recording of a human voice made by Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on April 9, 1860. That's well over a decade prior to the phonograph of Thomas Edison singing a children's song in 1877, previously thought to be the oldest known audio recording.

The 10 second sound clip of a woman singing the French folk song "Au Clair de la Lune" was originally recorded on paper by a phonautograph, a device invented by de Martinville. His hope was to create a visual representation of sound waves. The paper was covered in soot from a burning oil lamp, and then lines were scratched into the soot by a needle moved by a diaphragm that responded to the sound. Interestingly, the recordings was never intended to be played. It wasn't until scientists were able to use a "virtual stylus" to read the lines of high-resolution digital scans of the paper that the woman's voice came back to life.

So that prompts the question: if you could find an old recording of one of your ancestor's who would it be, and what do you imagine they would be saying or singing?

2 comments:

Bibliocat said...

My parents have one common ancestor, Jan Kornelis deVries, who is also an immigrating ancestor. I would LOVE to have any recording of him describing his reasons for leaving the Netherlands and his trip to Michigan.

Bibliocat said...

My parents have one common ancestor, Jan Kornelis deVries, who is also an immigrating ancestor. I would LOVE to have any recording of him describing his reasons for leaving the Netherlands and his trip to Michigan.