Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Human Voice Recording of 1860 Discovered - Edouard Léon Scott de Martinville (1817-79) and the Phonautograph

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville

In 2006, a phonautogram was discovered! I'm totally dumb-struck!

It was made by the print-maker Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville - a Frenchman who'd been interested in recording the human voice in a graphic form.

Any person to be recorded would speak into the trumpet of the Scott de Martinville's phonautograph ...

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville 's phonautograph at the Smithsonian Institute

... such that the sounds of his/her voice would make a membrane at its other end vibrate, with this movement being translated visual form by a stiff brush bristle moving over paper blackened with candle smoke.

The discovery of the particular phonautogram lead to possibility with today's technology of converting the visual record back into audio form, with the following result from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkley California ...

In case you missed it, the song being sung (yes, it was a song!) was 'Au clair de la lune' by Claude Debussy and the words here were ...

Au clair de la lune, Pierrot repondit ('By the light of the moon, Pierrot replied')

Not sure I don't prefer the version by 60's French pop diva France Gall ( - a mix of Brigitte Bardot, Sandra Dee and Twiggy.

Do you have a preference!


  1. My preference is naked men.

    Alan down in Florida

  2. It's a testament to the need of mam(and woman) to explore and create. Facinating. France Gall singing is, well, okay. Wit.

  3. hey alan

    how come i thought you'd say just that!



  4. hey wit

    it is amazing - may france gall is an acquired taste, like coffee when you're 11 years old! LOL

    take care