Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville

  • Discovered in 2008

  • To study acoustics

  • Recording only– No playback!


Alan Lomax interview with Charles Kuralt (1991)

Béla Bartók

with Zoltán Kodály

Frances Densmore

  • From Red Wing!

  • Office of Ethnography, Smithsonian

  • First field recordings of Native Americans

  • First woman recording engineer

Frances Densmore

Ludwig Koch

Ludwig Koch

First-ever wildlife recording in 1889, age 8!


Wanted by Nazi regime, immigrated to England


Developed the "sound-book"


Lifelong travels, recording, archiving, and broadcasting with BBC

Alan Lomax


Alan Blumlein


  • Records:  Stereo disc-cutting head and method
    (stereo LPs were still 25 years away!)

  • Miking:  Blumlein and mid/side stereo techniques
  • Also TV, sonar, radar

British Electrical Engineer

1933 Patent for stereo techniques



The Jazz Singer (1927)


First feature-length sound film to include dialog, sync singing, and SFX
(though only for a short section)

Sound fundamentally changed the requirements for acting in film.  One result was a massive and sudden turn-over in actors.

King Kong (1933)

Murray Spivak

First person to manipulate sound in a creative way for cinema.


Musique Concréte

Pierre Schaeffer


Spinning locked-groove records in the late 1940s (before tape)

GRM Studio, Paris

Jacques Poullin, audio engineer

  • First significant electronic music studio

  • Part of French state radio (government support)

  • Pierre Henry, composer/collaborator

  • First opportunity with electronic music for many later composers

Composer/Technician Collaboration:

Jacques Poullin, audio engineer

(10 head variable-speed tape machine wth keyboard controller) 

Schaeffer doing something, with something

Iannis Xenakis

Stochastics:  Statistics & probabilitiy to create sound masses

Concret pH (1958)

Musique Concréte (tape) work, created by manipulating recordings of burning coal embers

Start with a sound made up of many particles, then see how you can make it change imperceptibly, growing and developing, until an entirely new sound results...

Concret pH (1958)

Musique Concréte (tape) work, created by manipulating recordings of burning coal embers

I seek extremely rich sounds that have a long duration, yet with much internal change and variety.  Also, I explore the realm of extremely faint sounds highly amplified.  There is usually no electronic alteration of the original sound, since an operation such as filtering diminished the richness.

Columbia Tape Music Center

  • First large electronic music studio in the U.S.
  • Columbia University (academic support)
  • Vladimir Ussachevsky, Otto Luening

First 'live' concert of all electronic music

MOMA (NYC), October 1952

  • Work could be replayed in precisely the same way
  • Replaying was not dependent on a human performer
  • Basic elements were often recognizable ("concrete"), giving the listener a different mode of listening than abstract music

The Birth of Recording

By Brian

The Birth of Recording

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