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Ongoing History Daily: The first recorded sound

Recorded sound has been around for a lot longer than most people realize. But I’ll bet you’re thinking about Thomas Edison and his talking machine and Emile Berliner’s rotating discs. You’re not going back far enough. Come with me to 1860 when a Frenchman named Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville made something he called a “photoautogram” of him singing a folk song called “Au Claire de La Lune” using a device that etched a waveform on paper.

About 150 years later, that waveform was turned into actual of audio. It sounds like a woman, but we think it’s Edouard himself.  Speed control was a little tough in those days.  The first known instance of recorded music, made on April 9, 1860.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38300 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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