The Phonograph as Toastmaster (October 5, 1888)

The latest round of additions to the National Recording Registry for 2016 has recently been announced, and if you’d like to celebrate the occasion with a toast or two, some of the newly inducted recordings might just be able to guide you through the process.  I’m thinking here of the first item on the list,…

Time-Based Graphs as Moving Pictures (1786-1878)

The wavy lines of time-based graphs can easily be converted into audio, as I explained in an earlier post.  But we can also convert them into video, and in fact sound recordings were being played back as moving pictures in the 1860s, long before anyone had played one back as sound—another notable difference being that…

Filling in the Gaps: Some Discographic Inferences

In discography—the “bibliography” of recorded sound—inferences based on patterns have traditionally been discouraged.  If matrices 6146-6148 and 6150-6154 are all known to have been recorded by a particular musician on 17 April 1923, for instance, the experts would caution us against assuming the same of matrix 6149.  And they’d be quite right: the recordings could…

A Musical Graphophone Disc from 1885

An exhibition on “Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound” opened this week at the National Museum of American History, including audio recovered from select artifacts.  Here I’d like to showcase one recording from the same group which we haven’t heard yet, since I want to stress the value of continuing efforts to…

What is Eduction?

I’ve been using the word eduction to refer to a concept that I originally put forward in connection with sound media, but that I now think applies to a much broader range of subjects.  In this post, I’d like to explain where the concept came from and spell out my latest ideas about its scope…