Opening Day, Ben Katchor, and Max Raabe - Off-Ramp for April 6, 2013

Using technology to bring lost sound back to life

Picture of Sound

Dust to Digital

Cover for the book "Picture of Sound: One Thousand Years of Educed Audio: 980 - 1980."

We can read our forebearers' speeches and see their portraits, but we can't hear their music or what they sounded like. But now Patrick Feaster, a professor at Indiana University, is trying to change that.

Feaster has been taking pictures of phonographs, using other musical techniques and turning the visual sound waves into actual voices and music. He has been called a sonic Dr. Frankenstein for reanimating these long-lost sounds.

Some of his discoveries can be found in a new book called "Picture of Sound" published by Dust to Digital. There’s the inventor of the gramophone Emile Berliner describing his whereabouts in 1889. There are ancient medieval manuscripts that have been turned into actual music.
 
Feaster says there is almost a limitless amount of work that can be done in this field. He’s currently looking at the possibility of playing back early recordings of heartbeats as well as telegrams from the 1830s.
 
Patt Morrison talks with Feaster about what spurred his interest in this project, how it works and we play some of his most interesting discoveries. 


  


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