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Posts Tagged ‘phonograph’

The Sound of a Voice That Is Still

May 7, 2015 | by

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“Listening to the Master’s Voice,” from Black and White, 1891.

In April 1889, only a few months before he died, Robert Browning became the first major literary figure to commit his voice to wax. At a dinner party held by the artist Rudolf Lehmann, Browning stood before the Edison Talking Machine—then new and exceedingly novel—and recited his poem “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.” The problem: he couldn’t remember his lines.

“I forget it—er,” Browning stammers only three lines in. Then, after another false start: “I—I am most terribly sorry that I can’t remember my own verses.” (Imagine if, today, poets were expected to have all their own poems memorized.) “But one thing that I will remember all my life is the astonishing sensation produced upon me by your wonderful invention.” Read More »

And Everywhere That Mary Went

December 6, 2012 | by

On December 6, 1877, Thomas Edison made one of the first recordings of the human voice, a phonograph recording of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Below, Edison recites the nursery rhyme.

This was not Mary’s sole claim to fame. The nursery rhyme, written by Sarah Josepha Hale and published in Boston in 1830, was inspired by the story of a young girl named Mary Sawyer, who had an inseparable pet lamb. The tune was added shortly thereafter. To this day, a statue of Mary and her lamb stands in the town center of Sterling, Massachusetts.

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