Home » Books » FEASTER, PATRICK: Pictures of Sound. 1000 years of educed audio 980-1980 142pp large format hardback
FEASTER, PATRICK: Pictures of Sound. 1000 years of educed audio 980-1980 142pp large format hardback
An extraordinary and unique project, brilliantly realised. This is a 146pp, 26 x 21 cm, hardback book, 60% of which consists of illustrations in both black and white and colour – with an audio CD. The book documents the CD; the CD sonifies the book. Feaster reconsiders the nature of sound recording and, thanks to new technologies, recognises and makes audible sounds previously inaccessible from media not previously understood as recordings. He begins with a 1778 illustrated treatise on Tonotechny (the art of setting pins in barrel organs) and a an analytical notage of a signature performance – realised not from an instrument but from the pin-making score itself; he then reads/sonifies spectrograms from voice identification research, transcribed waveforms derived from C19 recordings, phonophotographic images invented for vocal character research, photographs of lost 78 records (impressive) including the voice of Emile Berliner himself, melographic transcriptions of keyboard performances, various kinds of cut rolls, Leon-Scott’s famous phonautograms (experiments with styli, membranes and soot to ‘write’ sound conducted 20 years before Edison repeated and extended the technique), Athanasius Kirchner’s diagrams for toothed cylinders (designed to play automated instruments (cylindrus phonotacticus) from 1627, including microtonal music (division of octave into 28 rather 12 parts), the flame mamometer (a device that used a membrane, a gas flame and a mirror to project fluctuations caused by soundwaves, and Alexander Bell’s early experiments with membranes, light, mirrors and a photographic plate - the earliest known recordings of English speech. He then plays (directly, as if a recording, not through performance – you have to read the explanations – early mediaeval scores (mono and polyphonic), rare ninth century Daseian notation and a graphic form of speech notation from 1775. Feaster writes clearly about what he is doing and is meticulous in his research; there’s a lot of fascinating material here, and all the ‘scores’ or visual transcription systems are fully illustrated in the book. The sound is strange, distorted, curious – but the argument is fascinating and undeniably these are recordings. So, for those interested in this sort of thing, this is a unique and indispensable document that breaks new ground. Note: Because of the unprincipled gangsterism of the postal services we have to add £3 outside of the UK. Apologies.