The Phonographic Funeral of Baby Burr

In the latter half of 1895, newspapers around the United States relayed the startling news that a phonograph had just conducted a funeral service in place of a live clergyman. The very idea of putting a machine to such a use grated with some critics’ sensibilities, and even the Phonoscope, a trade journal ordinarily eager…

Musical Records of the Michigan Phonograph Company

During the third annual convention of local phonograph companies held at Chicago in the summer of 1892, a roll call was taken to determine which companies with representatives in attendance were then “making musical records.”  Many of the positive responses come as no surprise today: serious historians of the early recording industry have long been…

Berthold Laufer’s Chinese Stereo Recordings of 1901

In 1901, Berthold Laufer recorded Chinese music and drama using two phonographs at the same time, one for vocals and one for instruments.  Today we can combine the resulting pairs of recordings in stereo, and I’ll be sharing a few examples below, together with an explanation of how I prepared them.  Laufer’s pairs of simultaneously…