Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville's Phonautograms: Earlier Playbacks
These sound files reflect earlier stages in our ongoing efforts to recover sound from Scott’s phonautograms. Hear the latest versions here.
A Reinterpretation of Playback Speed
When we released "Au Clair de la Lune" and "Gamme de la Voix" in 2008, we chose a playback speed that presumed the singer was a woman or an adolescent. Discrepancies in Scott's notes suggested several possible playback speeds (each consistent with one of his inconsistencies), and the singing sounded "right" to us at this speed, which would have corresponded to timecode written by a tuning fork vibrating at 500 Hz. But early in 2009, upon hearing "Aminta" in which Scott indirectly identifies himself as the speaker, we realized that this speed was too fast, and that the frequency of Scott’s reference tuning fork was actually 250 Hz. When "Au Clair" and "Gamme" are slowed by the appropriate amount, their singer sounds very much like the speaker in "Aminta." We have since adjusted their playback speed in accordance with this reinterpretation.
The romantic image of a woman singing to us through the veiled curtain of time was at the heart of Scott's allure as we introduced his work in 2008. As we are loath to let her go, we maintain her two sound files below: the first version as released in March, and a restoration from September that applied more advanced technologies. Finally, we also retain the most up-to-date “virtual stylus” playback, set to the correct speed and released in May 2009.
Original March 2008 release
Download mp3: Au Clair de la Lune (March 2008 release)
September 2008 restoration
Download mp3: Au Clair de la Lune (September 2008 release)
May 2009 restoration
The sound of an inventor experimenting with his new apparatus is captivating in its own powerful way. The following interpretation is consistent with all information available to us at this time.
Download mp3: Au Clair de la Lune (May 2009 release)
In 2008 we also presented two versions of Scott’s “Gamme de la Voix” phonautogram of May 17, 1860, both played back at twice the correct speed. The first included crosstalk from Scott’s tuning fork that leaked onto the voice track. The second rendered the voice without the tuning fork crossover, isolating the subject Scott intended to record.
Download mp3: Gamme de la Voix (with crosstalk)
Download mp3: Gamme de la Voix (with crosstalk removed)