The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #109832   Message #2299377
Posted By: mark gregory
28-Mar-08 - 03:46 AM
Thread Name: FolksongRecording from 1860 made audible
Subject: RE: FolksongRecording from 1860 made audible
Au Clair de la Lune--French folk song (1860 Phonautogram)

The audio excavation could give a new primacy to the phonautograph, once considered a curio, and its inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.

Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.

Scott recorded someone singing an excerpt from the French folksong "Au Clair de la Lune" on April 9, 1860, and deposited the results with the Académie des Sciences in 1861. The existence of a tuning-fork calibration trace allows us to compensate for the irregular recording speed of the hand-cranked cylinder. The sheet contains the beginning line of the second verse-"Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit"-and is the earliest audibly recognizable record of the human voice yet recovered.


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