Episode 35 (The First Sound Recordings)

Patrick Feaster

December’s podcast focuses on the earliest sound recordings: the experiments of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (and his phonautograph from the 1850s and 1860s) and Thomas Edison (and his phonograph from the 1870s and 1880s). Paul Meier’s guest is Patrick Feaster, principal of First Sounds.org (along with David Giavannoni) and creator of Phonozoic.net (a website devoted to the history of the phonograph and related media) and Griffonage (a site that explores historical media).

This podcast marks the debut of one of Scott de Martinville’s earliest recordings, from 1857.

Feaster is media preservation specialist for the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative at Indiana University Bloomington, where he received his Ph.D in Folklore and Ethnomusicology in 2007. A co-founder of the First Sounds Initiative and three-time Grammy nominee, he has played a central role in identifying, playing back, and contextualizing many of the world’s oldest surviving sound recordings. He is the author of Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio, 980-1980, as well as numerous album notes and articles on media history and theory.

Cameron Meier (film critic and historian, executive editor of IDEA, and vice president of Paul Meier Dialect Services) joins the conversation.