Noise in the Groove: The Origin of Sound Recording
Summary: This podcast ponders the moment we began to play back recorded sounds. It’s a factual history of the phonograph and gramophone, but told through dreams and nightmares of the voices of the dead, the nature of time, the rapture, AI, androids, elephants, canned foods, mechanical menaces, alchemy, and so on. Now hear this.
This episode begins (just about) and ends (indeed) with recordings of Alessandro Moreschi – AKA the Angel of Rome – AKA the Last Castrato. His recordings are the only surviving sounds of a tradition of castrated male singers that lasted over 350 years, and mutilated countless thousands of innocent children in the process. We chart the rise and fall of+ Read More
This episode concludes our recent discussion on death and the phonograph. We talk about: the last message of Cardinal Manning, Alfred Tennyson’s phonograph recordings and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The episode ends with a lesser known story by Jules Verne, a forerunner of Dracula in a way, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
This episode continues our exploration of spiritualism, death and the phonograph with a discussion of the life, death and resurrection of the great English poet Robert Browning.
We broaden our discussion of technology and Victorian spiritualism to include: WT Stead and the sinking of the Titanic, more on the 19th century connections between magic and science, as well as HP Blavatsky, the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant and Jiddu Krishnamurti.
In this episode we begin an exploration of death and the phonograph that will continue for a few more episodes. We begin this particular journey into the beyond by taking a deeper look into the connections between technology and Victorian spiritualism. This episode features an excerpt of a recording of Arthur Conan Doyle describing how+ Read More
This episode starts by sharing a few popular stories inspired by the hopes and fears of a phonographic future, before moving on to introducing Emile Berliner (who you get to hear sing) and his gramophone. After that, I ponder what was lost in the disc record’s victory over the cylinder. Also: talking sponges, Egyptian colossi and+ Read More
This is the story of how Mickey Mouse has been covertly destroying our cultural heritage. Well, his management at least. We continue questioning copyright by checking out the wonderful work of Canadian composer John Oswald. Who’s Dab?
The show is on the road again! This episode is mostly about Edison’s somewhat doomed attempt to market the phonograph in the UK as a business dictation machine in the 1890s. The discussion includes: a recording of William Gladstone’s voice, the ‘I’m not quite dead yet’ death of stenography, and brief looks at the histories+ Read More
A story of how the first four notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony became an audible symbol of resistance against Hitler’s Nazi Germany, by way of Guy Fawkes, Alan Moore, V, Morse code, the BBC and Churchill. Bob Marley gets a mention as well, obviously.
This episode wraps up our discussion of the tinfoil phonograph and the talking machines that came before it. We talk about: a talking head named Euphonia, ghosts in shells, the first android, the first phonographic doll (which you get to hear), and a few fears for a phonographic future.
We cast our metaphorical nets into the deep sea of talking machine history and find: Baron Munchausen, Her, Hal, IBM, Dr. Sbaitso, Sigmund Freud, Der Sandmann, a defecating duck, a chess playing robot (allegedly), and, to end the episode, an 18th century talking machine.
It’s rollin’ round the bend. We begin where we left off in episode 2, and from there: Moore’s law, AI, alchemy, the Emerald Tablet, Edison, the earliest recording of a train, self-help books, Darwin, scientists, proper operators, Yankee swindles, and beyond.
In this episode I discuss the ideas and research of the historians and philosophers who have informed and influenced the way I think about recorded sound. I talk about: fabulous phonographs, soundscapes, perfect prisons, self-subjugation, technological determinism and the wonderful worlds of Friedrich Kittler and Jonathan Sterne.
Here we go. We set off on our unexpected journey into the audible past, beginning with the question, ‘Why are we in England?’ But then: Edison and Tesla, deafness, tinfoil, circus elephants, mechanical menaces, canned foods, corpses, and a new and wonderful phonograph.
Hello, and welcome to the show. This episode introduces the main themes of the podcast. I explain what sound recording means to me and why I think it’s worth thinking about. You’ll also get to listen to the first recognisable and audible recording of the human voice.