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Oldest Known Recording Unearthed From 1860

Previously the Oldest Known Recording was thought to be Edison’s phonograph recording of a children’s nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb..” in 1877. So what did they use before the phonograph? The “phonautograph”, is used by etching paper covered in soot. US scientists used a virtual stylus to read the lines.
The recording was found by audio historian David Giovannoni who said to the Associated Press “When I first heard the recording as you hear it … it was magical, so ethereal,””The fact is its recorded in smoke. The voice is coming out from behind this screen of aural smoke.”
The phonautograph was made by a Parisian inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. The new recording will be presented on 28 March at a conference of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections at Stanford University in California.

oldest known recording

The video below is the 10 second clip of “Au Clair de la Lune”.

This is the video of Edison’s recording of “Mary had a little Lamb”


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Matt Price

Matt Price

London Sound Recordist

I am a London Sound Recordist and Sound Editor for many types of projects around the film genres. This covers creative content right through to feature films. I am passionate about sharing my journey and knowledge to help the rest of the community. If you need anything from me, feel free to get in touch with me at London Sound Recordist.

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