Saturday, March 29, 2008

Record books revised

Audio researchers retrieve 10 seconds of melody from an 1860 phonautogram, a device invented by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville "to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered," The New York Times reports:

Other Scott phonautograms, dating from as early as 1853, were found in a Paris archive; but once converted to sound, "we got the early phonautograms to squawk, that's about it," said David Giovannoni, leader of a team from California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. A snippet of the French folk song "Au Clair de la Lune," recorded on April 9, 1860, is the oldest found so far that yields identifiably musical sound.

Thomas A. Edison's recitation of "Mary had a little lamb," long thought to be the oldest audio recording, dates from 1876.