Guest Patrick Feaster to unveil “Voices from the Grave” in upcoming Lecture

The Department of Recording Arts in the Jacobs School of Music is delighted to welcome Dr. Patrick Feaster as special guest lecturer this coming Wednesday evening, April 18 at 5:00pm in Sweeney Hall, Room M015 of the Simon Building on the IU Bloomington campus.  His presentation is entitled “Voices from the Grave (1850s – 1890s): Recent Discoveries in Archeophony.”

A special feature of his presentation will be the unveiling of phonautograms recorded exactly 152 years before, to the day, on April 18, 1860.  These recordings remained mute for over one and a half centuries and have never before been heard in a public venue.

Two-time Grammy nominee Patrick Feaster is one of the world’s leading researchers specializing in the early history of recorded sound.   His investigations have helped unearth dozens of significant, heretofore unknown historical artifacts containing aural information captured 120 to 160 years ago.  He has also developed revolutionary methods to recover these ancient sounds and make them audible, in some cases for the first time since they were recorded in the nineteenth century.

In his presentation, Dr. Feaster will discuss and play examples from several of the recent archeophonic expeditions in which he has played a central role, including:

  • newly identified wax cylinders recorded in Europe in the 1880s by William J. Hammer and Theo Wangemann, pioneering recording engineers who worked for Thomas Edison.
  • phonautograms created in Paris in the 1850s and 1860s by French inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville utilizing a stylus to etch patterns in soot-covered paper.  The discovery these scientific artifacts and successful eduction of their audio content by Feaster and his colleagues at FirstSounds.org stunned scholars and forced the rewriting of the history of sound recording to acknowledge Scott, and not Edison, as the father of recorded sound.  These revelations were profiled in The New York Times and on National Public Radio.
  • audio recovered from paper prints made in the late 19th century, inked from the surfaces of metal phonographic discs that have since been lost to history.  Some of these prints were published in popular magazines of the era and Dr. Feaster has developed innovative techniques to educe the sounds contained on those discs from their printed images.

Patrick Feaster’s rigorous research, technical ingenuity, passion for all things audio and sheer tenacity have combined to unlock a vast wealth of ancient human sonic expression – musical instruments, acting, singing, oration and more – captured well over a century in the past and at last, available again for all to hear, study and enjoy.

For more information on the Department of Recording Arts, visit  http://www.music.indiana.edu/departments/academic/recording-arts/index.shtml

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