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Old March 28th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #1
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Earliest known recordings of HUMAN VOICE!

This article is too cool!

I love the fact that its a VISUAL recording of the soundwave.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080328/...iest_recording

They're playing it at Stanford today, I wonder if I can get in to see/hear it.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
This article is too cool!

I love the fact that its a VISUAL recording of the soundwave.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080328/...iest_recording

They're playing it at Stanford today, I wonder if I can get in to see/hear it.
Fascinating, if not exactly hi-fi. Sounds like the last few seconds of a cockpit voice recorder from one of these air accident websites.
The link is at the bottom of the article:

http://www.firstsounds.org/sounds/18...de-la-Lune.mp3
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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:23 PM   #3
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nice find. here's the NYT version, which elaborates the story, which seems to be more about the amazing technologies of recuperating old technologies than it is about inventing sound...since there was no playback, only capture, it begs the philosophical question of whether it even stands as a first recording...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/ar...ce&oref=slogin

fascinating, though, thanks for posting it...
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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:39 PM   #4
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Meryem -

Interesting philosophical point. If a 'playback device' does not exist, is it in fact a recording?

I think the answer is 'yes'.

We sent out numerous 'recordings' of voices in space on various spacecraft.

There is no way of knowing if the possible 'alien' lifeforms would be able to decipher them. Or be able to 'reconstruct' some sort of playback device from the available information.

My understanding of the 'soot recordings' is that they were etched in the soot, much the same way that an earthquakes' vibrations are etched on a paper. Is it a 'recording' of an earthquake? Could it be 'played back'?

We recognize them as 'waveforms' now - we see them everyday on our timelines. Must have looked incredible to these people - to 'see' the sound vibrations drawn out on paper.


"If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around, does it make a 'sound'?" - or merely vibrations?

Does the definition of 'recording' rely upon the existence of a 'playback' device?
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Old March 28th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #5
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Looks as if one of our BBC radio newsreaders, here in the UK, found the story amusing!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7318173.stm
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Old March 28th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #6
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Meryem -

Does the definition of 'recording' rely upon the existence of a 'playback' device?
well, this only "became" the first recorded sound once we had the means to play it back, though, didn't it? before the moment that all of the force of existing technologies was brought to bear on it, it didn't exist as a recording at all, just as soot on paper, awaiting the convergence of an historian allied with the proper scientists. so was it a recording, say, 10, or even 50 years ago, when it still could only have been perceivable visually, not aurally?

even the inventor's intent was for it to be seen rather than heard...the only reason that it was ever heard as sound rather than perceived as image was because modern science created new technologies which reconfigured the original intent of the invention. without an invention slathered on top of the original invention, there is no sound....

always happy to engage the esoterica!
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Old March 28th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
well, this only "became" the first recorded sound once we had the means to play it back, though, didn't it? before the moment that all of the force of existing technologies was brought to bear on it, it didn't exist as a recording at all, just as soot on paper, awaiting the convergence of an historian allied with the proper scientists. so was it a recording, say, 10, or even 50 years ago, when it still could only have been perceivable visually, not aurally?

even the inventor's intent was for it to be seen rather than heard...the only reason that it was ever heard as sound rather than perceived as image was because modern science created new technologies which reconfigured the original intent of the invention. without an invention slathered on top of the original invention, there is no sound....

always happy to engage the esoterica!

Just because it is a visual representation doesn't mean it's not a recording.

As soon as it was scratched onto the soot-paper, it was effectively a recording. No different than taking down dictation on a note pad, but until now they didn't have the means to interpret the "writing".

The original author's intention is anyone's guess and irrelevant really, because the fact is that what was left behind was a visual metaphor of the singing. No different in that sense than the digital tracks in my iPod- information representing a specific occurence of sound; whether or not I have my earbuds in, the information is still there.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 02:41 PM   #8
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If someone heard a voice five hundred years ago and dictated the song on paper with musical notation and then I play it back with a modern device does that qualify as a recording?
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Old March 28th, 2008, 02:59 PM   #9
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Esoterica - alteration of one's perceptions?

Definitely this was a "recording" - it created an organized cognizable RECORD of an event, regardless of it taking a couple centuries to recognize and decode it. Crude, yes, but then so are most of our perceptions!

We forget how spoiled we are when we take out a pocket sized recorder and can grab a quite acceptable quality digital surround mix live... and I wonder in 2-3 centuries how those will be perceived, should mankind manage not to fall victim to our own arrogance of perception?

It is quite fascinating that the desire was so strong to "record" an event for the future that the impossibility of playback wasn't an issue.

Perhaps we could all take a lesson there!
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Old March 28th, 2008, 03:21 PM   #10
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If someone heard a voice five hundred years ago and dictated the song on paper with musical notation and then I play it back with a modern device does that qualify as a recording?
a provocative rejoinder, matt...

i have kemp niver's (now out-of-print itself and rather valuable...) book on the library of congress' paper print collection. these were once movies that were copyrighted by being printed to paper. the original movies no longer exist. but the paper prints were used by niver to rebuild the movies, using a technology that he created to do so. were the paper prints movies? seems like this is more analogous to a paper print than a recording...

throwing a log on, for fun...

i have an edison phonograph in my living room and a wax cylinder collection, so i'm rather fond of this whole era and topic...

esoterica - obscure, little known, stuff only a few folks really give a damn about, like collecting "uncle buck" wax cylinders.....
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Old March 28th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #11
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The NYT article references the debate at the time, and points out the distinction that Edisons device was the first to be able to REPRODUCE a recording, while the frenchman's simply MADE the recording.

Therein I think lies the conundrum of the semantics... as if anybody gave a hoot!

Again, I'm inclined to recognize it as a recording in the strictest since of the term - a 'record' of the sound, preserved in a medium - The fact that the ability to reproduce the sound (re'construct'?) does not exist is irrelevant to me.

I'll throw another log on the musical metaphor along with Meryem - is it also a "TRANSCRIPTION" of the sound? Or is it RATHER a transcription?

Two hundred years ago, someone writes down the words and musical notations for a song, including what instrument it should be played on. Is it a 'recording' or a 'transcription' of the music?

Perhaps the definition relies on the instrument required to 'reconstruct' it. IF it can be 'heard' and reproduced in the human mind, and then played 'out' through the vocal cords, and hands - it's a transcription.

If it can be 'fed' into a machine and 'played' out by mechanical or electro-mechanical means - it's a 'recording'. - ????

This would make player - piano rolls ---- what?


(Okay too much time on my hands today!)
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Old March 28th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #12
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Hearing 'Au Clair de la Lune' this morning changed my perspective of the day. I put up a photo of a phonautograph and the mp3s on my blog, I have listen to the song several times today, amazing to hear the past.


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http://bluebarnpictures.com/blog/
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