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Earlist recorded sound.

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  • #16
    Andy - shows how the memory plays tricks. I had always understood that the early recording was made at the Royal Albert Hall, not Crystal Palace, but if it's on a dedicated Crystal Palace page then maybe I'm wrong on this count. The playback quality is not simply the deterioration of the materials, but of the recording methods. Things needed to be close to the microphone to have a decent quality of playback because of the diaphragm that was used as the microphone, so it would never have been very good. I have an extensive collection of pre-electric 78s, and the quality of large ensembles is always very limited in tonal range.

    History does indeed claim that Edison was the first to record sound with the MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB nursery rhyme but, like many things, history often lies. Edison is credited with several things that someone else did first.

    This story about the recordings made in soot on sheets of paper is still intriguing me. If it's a spoof - why? It's not exactly a clever one, and it didn't happen on April 1st. I just think it's all unlikely but I really want it to be true. I suppose it could easily have been established earlier on that pressure from a diaphragm could possibly record sound but no one had the method of using it. Maybe a modern parallel would be cryogenic suspension?

    PHILIP
    Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

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    • #17
      Phil --

      The recording was indeed at Crystal Palace. The narrative from that website is quite interesting. As far as I know, the Handel festival was always held there. I've always wondered who might have been at that concert in 1888....
      Yes, the recording technique was very crude. It amounted to suspending a wax cylinder recording device under the balcony and having someone crawl up there the change the cylinder frequently. But the cylinders are also in very poor condition after 120 years.

      As to Edison, the nursery rhyme was recorded in the first public demonstration of his device. I would presume that he had tested it earlier. What was recorded in that earlier test is unknown as far as I know.

      There have been unconfirmed theories that bits of pottery dating thousands of years old might have recorded the sound of the potter's wheel as the craftsman was decorating them with a stylus as they were rotating. In theory I suppose possible but highly unlikely as the sound from the wheel would not have been concentrated enough nor the stylus free enough to make an acoustic groove in the pottery.

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      • #18
        Hi Andy

        I remember seeing a programme on that final nugget of information. Of course, it is indeed an extremely long-shot. All it might do is pick up pulses and vibrations of the hand rather than record any sound.

        I suspect, before the cylinder ran out, that Edison's first recording said "I am Ja-"

        PHILIP
        Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

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        • #19
          Nice one ! Although I heard that it was...'The Cat d...............'
          'Would you like to see my African curiosities?'

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Chris Scott View Post
            Anyone know the earliest surviving spoken word recording?
            Chris
            I don't know THE earliest, but one of the earliest spoken word recordings made in England was by Sir Arthur Sullivan on 5 October 1888, two days after the opening of The Yeomen of the Guard.

            Edison despatched a phonograph to one Colonel Gouraud, his representative in England. The Colonel's assignment was to record the voices of as many famous people as he could.

            Sullivan's message was recorded as follows:-

            "Dear Mr. Edison,

            For myself I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the result of this evening's experiment. Astonished at the wonderful form you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music will be put on record forever. But all the same, I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery.

            Arthur Sullivan"

            The recording is remarkably clear for its age, and I'll endeavour to upload it here (or somewhere) once I possess the 'know how'. It doesn't appear to exist anywhere on the web at the moment.

            Steve

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            • #21
              Steve! Welcome!

              Everyone - meet Steve. I met Steve on FLICKR, having put up some great photos he'd taken of places like The Alma before it got lost. He came on one of my tours a week back.

              Is your copy on CD? If so, can you upload it to your PC as an mp3? REAL PLAYER can do this easily (or even WINDOWS MEDIA which every PC should have these days). If you can, e-mail it to me as an attachment and I'll do the rest.

              PHILIP
              Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

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              • #22
                Hi Steve, and welcome
                Originally posted by Steve Thoroughgood View Post
                one of the earliest spoken word recordings made in England was by Sir Arthur Sullivan on 5 October 1888, two days after the opening of The Yeomen of the Guard.

                Sullivan's message was recorded as follows:-

                "Dear Mr. Edison,

                For myself I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat... terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music will be put on record forever..."
                Prophetic words!
                Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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                • #23
                  Here you are, Steve. The Sullivan recording is at http://cylindersontheweb.angelcities...-Oct-1888).ram

                  Other recordings of famous persons from that same evening (Oct. 5, 1888) as well as other noted rare recordings, including the world's oldest playable recording (1878) and a portion of the Handel concert can be found at http://cylindersontheweb.angelcities...recordings.htm

                  The Handel Festival is barely audible despite the chorus being 4000-strong. It is the most audible portion of the extant recording, however. Recorded June 29, 1888 at Crystal Palace. Who might have been there?

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                  • #24
                    Billy Crystal?

                    Crystal Gayle?

                    PHILIP
                    Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Did you know that the alarm was first sounded by local resident Henry Buckland that the Palace was afire on 30 November 1936? He and his daughter Crystal (named for the Palace) were out walking their dog and either noticed the fire or were alerted by someone who had.

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                      • #26
                        Thank you very much for your welcomes, everyone.

                        I have to confess to being something of a Gilbert & Sullivan 'buff', both as listener and erstwhile (semi-pro) performer. My interest dates back to 1970, the first year in which I saw a performance of 'The Mikado' by the original D'Oyly Carte Company. I have been collecting G&S records for over thirty years, and have a number of rare 78s in my collection (including a few deemed not worthy enough to appear on the various compilation discs of the '70s & '80s). Unfortunately, I don't possess very much on CD, mainly because I strongly object to the sky-high prices charged by Decca for recordings made 40 - 50 years ago!

                        The Sullivan dubbing, unfortunately, is on good old vinyl, and I don't (yet) possess the correct equipment in order to transfer it to CD. Nevertheless, the link supplied by aspallek should serve well in the meantime, or until such time I can master the complexities of modern technology.

                        Philip (great guy!) mentioned my set of Ripper Walk photos posted to flickr: anyone interested in seeing them should be able to find them via this link:-

                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/andytak...7604078162902/

                        Personally, I don't think they're all that good, attributable to having been shot on poor quality film in the first place, plus my failing eyesight (I'm no spring chicken!). However, all photos are devoid of people and moving traffic, something of an accomplishment, I feel!

                        Steve
                        Last edited by Steve Thoroughgood; 04-21-2008, 05:59 PM. Reason: Poor grammar!

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                        • #27
                          Hello you all!

                          Wow, people talking about the earliest recordings here!

                          Since I only noticed this thread now, I will add this thing on the "better late than never" -basis:

                          On a documentary about Houdini there was a recording about him talking about his methods! It was this same wax-thing, that was used with Florence Nightingale, etc.

                          All the best
                          Jukka
                          "When I know all about everything, I am old. And it's a very, very long way to go!"

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                          • #28
                            Since I never had the means to play wax cylinders, I retained only one in my collection of recorded ephemera. It was a four minute compilation of Strauss waltzes, (rather like a four minute compilation of the best bits from Wagner's ring cycle!).

                            It came to grief after I got married 25 years ago when the new Mrs T. dropped it on the floor. I never did get to hear how it sounded!

                            Steve

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                            • #29
                              Hi Steve,
                              Originally posted by Steve Thoroughgood View Post
                              It came to grief after I got married 25 years ago when the new Mrs T. dropped it on the floor. I never did get to hear how it sounded!
                              Have you asked Mrs T? My guess is that it went something like "thud, bang, pop!"
                              Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                              "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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                              • #30
                                Hi, Sam,

                                You forgot the loud, piercing scream which followed.

                                Plus the blue language!

                                Steve

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