Patrick Feaster – ‘Pictures of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio: 980-1980’ Book / CD [Dust-To-Digital]

An amazing project from the authority that is Patrick Feaster, doing some forward thinking work that technology may allow, but is originated on ideas driven from a unique dedication to sound study. Bringing back words and sounds originally preserved as images, sourced from anywhere they still exist; 1890’s magazines to prints preserved in the Library Of Congress to more common library books and private collections. Digging on the next level, but what would you expect from someone with a job title of “sound media historian.”

For a reference, the majority of what Feaster works with are phonautograms, sound recordings from pre-1900 that were transferred from source to two-dimensional lines on paper. “Paper records” or “paper recordings” if you will, that until recently were thought unplayable and somewhat useless outside of late 1800s, having been superseded by Thomas Edison’s phonograph, leading on to the gramophone, and down the track to the history of recorded audio that for many of us ends in Technics 1200s. There’s a major point to remember, phonautograms were never intended to be used for accurate sound reproduction however, merely for sound study and comparison.

The below video is a presentation with Patrick going through processes, theories and important developments historically, and technologically, that makes this are of work an ongoing investigation worthy of lifelong dedication. Feaster even takes on the famed Au Clair De La Lune from Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, the earliest known recording from 1860 that was given a much needed and carefully constructed repackage a few years back via Dust-To-Digital. The whole 36 minutes is time well spent, whether you’re an audiophile, music historian or don’t really care either way.

Released the back-end of last year, Dust-To-Digital have again stepped up for a quality release, delivering a collection of Feaster’s work in a beautiful package. The CD comes delivered in a 144-page hardback book, with 164 images reproduced in full color, gold gilt edging and gold-foil stamping on cover and spine.

Full press release below, well worth the $40US asking price in my opinion.

via Dust-To-Digital
Using modern technology, Patrick Feaster is on a mission to resurrect long-vanished voices and sounds—many of which were never intended to be revived.

Over the past thousand years, countless images have been created to depict sound in forms that theoretically could be “played” just as though they were modern sound recordings. Now, for the first time in history, this compilation uses innovative digital techniques to convert historic “pictures of sound” dating back as far as the Middle Ages directly into meaningful audio. It contains the world’s oldest known “sound recordings” in the sense of sound vibrations automatically recorded out of the air—the groundbreaking phonautograms recorded in Paris by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in the 1850s and 1860s—as well as the oldest gramophone records available anywhere for listening today, including inventor Emile Berliner’s recitation of “Der Handschuh,” played back from an illustration in a magazine, which international news media recently proclaimed to be the oldest audible “record” in the tradition of 78s and vintage vinyl. Other highlights include the oldest known recording of identifiable words spoken in the English language (1878) and the world’s oldest surviving “trick recording” (1889). But Pictures of Sound pursues the thread even further into the past than that by “playing” everything from medieval music manuscripts to historic telegrams, and from seventeenth-century barrel organ programs to eighteenth-century “notations” of Shakespearean recitation.

In short, this isn’t just another collection of historical audio—it redefines what “historical audio” is.