Yann Novak

Menu Recordings

Au Clair De La Lune, 2009

— CD-R

A unique audio CD compilation of contemporary soundworks based on the earliest known recording of the human voice, discovered in March 2008.

The original recording was made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville on April 9, 1860 using his own invention, the phonautograph, and consists of a series of scratches on a roll of blackened paper. Scott had never developed a way to play back his recordings and they went unheard for 148 years. In 2008, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory converted the thin lines back into audio, allowing us to hear a woman singing a segment of the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune”.

The CD compilation will be a conceptual extension of breathing life back into this document through modern technology; deciphering a voice that was etched into a thin layer of oil lamp smoke, and features a diverse group of international contemporary composers, creating new works from this ten second piece of history.

Additional credits: Our sincere thanks to historians David Giovannoni & Patrick Feaster for their assistance in this project. The Édouard-Léon Scott recording is licensed by Firstsounds.org