big news swept the world of music and recorded sound recently when a 10 second clip of a woman singing a french folk song was played for the first time in 150 years.
the recording of ”au clair de la lune”, or ”by the light of the moon”, was originally recorded in 1860, and is thought to be the oldest known recorded human voice.
there have been several claims previous to this one including that associated with the famous frank lambert who achieved similar results with his experiment of 1878 which resulted in lambert's ”talking clock”.
a phonograph” (ediphone) of thomas edison singing ”mary had a little lamb” in 1877 was previously thought to be the oldest recorded copy of the human voice. three original edison cylinders can be seen here at the national park service website.
this latest find knocks the whole timeline back an incredible 17 years! it turns out that edouard-leon scott de martinville using a phonautograph
recorded la clair de la lune. the phonautograph etched representations of sound waves into paper covered in soot from a burning oil lamp. lines were scratched into the soot by a needle moved by a diaphragm that responded to sound. apparently the recordings were never intended to be played. because phonautograph recordings were made using a hand-cranked device, the speed varied throughout, changing the pitch.
here's a photograph of the actual soot covered pieces of paper that have held the "voice" of this unknown french woman for over 148 years.
photo courtesy isabelle trocheris.
the "phonautograph", was played by american scientists using a "virtual stylus" to read the lines. so here it is - ten seconds of sound recorded an astonishing 148 years ago.
if you’d like to make or buy your very own model of the very far-back-in-time technology that edison used, then this replica kit uses the same technology that edison used, replacing the waxed pipe and stylus with a plastic cup and a needle, but the end results are the same! you record your own voice on a plastic cup -- and play it back! if this appeals to you then buy this kit, step back in time, and record the human voice.
19 hours ago