On This Day In 1860...
[Public Post]


Hello All,

A brief public post to share an interesting event that happened on 9th April 1860...

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I like to wake up to Radio 3 in the mornings — and I choose my time carefully to (hopefully) coincide with a nice piece of classical music as opposed to the (invariably depressing) news.

This morning, my brain gently whirred into gear accompanied by one of my all-time favourites — Debussy's Claire de Lune.

It's simply dreamy.

'Tis a fine tune to waken the senses and the presenter was playing it to introduce an interesting fact — on this day in 1860, the very first sound recording was made!

Waveforms, Paper and Soot

I did a little bit of research and found an article about it on Noise Addicts, which describes it further:

"...it is of a woman singing the French folk song “Claire de la lune” (sic). It has now been heard for the first time in 150 years...
"The interesting thing is that the recording was never intended to be played back — or at least the technology to play it back was never imagined at the time.
"It was recorded by a “phonautograph”, which etches waveforms onto paper. French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville built the device, which uses a diaphragm that responds to sound to etch the lines onto paper via the soot from an oil lamp."

To this day, I still find vinyl records magical. Edouard-Leon's invention seems like it worked along similar lines but the idea sounds incredible, doesn't it?

Etching waveforms onto paper? Via the soot from an oil lamp? In 1860?

The people of the 1800s were true pioneers in so many fields, not least photography and sound.

Theatre Of The Mind

Thank goodness the ability to create sound recordings was invented because it's a medium that I've grown to love as much as photography.

After all, they're both about making pictures. And pictures only exist in one place — the mind.

Anyway, I couldn't resist sharing that morsel of information with you. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Remember, you can hear my own creations on the Sound Recordings and Podcast pages — let me know what you think about this dimension to my journey if you have a moment...

Enjoy the rest of your day,


Newcastle upon Tyne


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