Friday, March 28, 2008

Au Clair de la Lune

French recording from 1860 is the oldest known recorded human voice.

The 10-second clip of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune," taken from a so-called phonautogram, was recently discovered by audio historian David Giovannoni. The recording predates Thomas Edison's "Mary had a little lamb" — previously credited as the oldest recorded voice — by 17 years.

The tune was captured using a phonautograph, a device created by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville that created visual recordings of sound waves.

Using a needle that moved in response to sound, the phonautograph etched sound waves into paper coated with soot from an oil lamp.

"When I first heard the recording as you hear it ... it was magical, so ethereal," said Giovannoni. "The fact is it's recorded in smoke. The voice is coming out from behind this screen of aural smoke."
Under the Moonlight


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