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Listen & Learn: History of Recording

Posted by: Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the first recorded sounds in history
gramophone
Image by Ichigo121212 (Pixabay)

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • imitate: to act like something or someone
  • eardrum: the part of the ear that responds to sound waves
  • groove: a narrow cut
  • nursery rhyme: a simple song for children
  • introduce: to present something new
  • record: a disc that stores sound in small grooves
  • cassette: a small device that uses magnetic tape to store sound

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

In the 1850s, a man named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville the phonautograph, a device that imitated a human eardrum. The phonautograph was the first device to record . However, it only stored of sound waves, and the technology to play these sound waves didn’t exist yet. The first person to record sound and replay it was Thomas Edison, in 1877. His invention, the phonograph, used a needle to carve grooves into a metal or wax cylinder. Edison’s first recording was the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” In 1887, German-American inventor Emile Berliner introduced the gramophone, which used flat records to store and play sound. These could be easily copied and . Record players remained common until the 1980s and 1990s, when cassettes and CDs became more choices.

Comprehension questions

See answers below

  1. Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented
    a. the phonograph
    b. the phonautograph
    c. the gramophone
  2. The problem with the phonautograph was that
    a. its recordings could not be copied and sold
    b. the technology to play its recordings didn’t exist yet
    c. it used very expensive materials
  3. The first sound that Edison recorded was
    a. a nursery rhyme
    b. a telephone call
    c. a scene from a play

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Technology has progressed very quickly over the last few centuries. Some tools we use every day would be hard for people 100 years ago to imagine. What new technology do you think we will have 100 years in the future?

Transcript

In the 1850s, a man named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph, a device that imitated a human eardrum. The phonautograph was the first device to record sound. However, it only stored drawings of sound waves, and the technology to play these sound waves didn’t exist yet. The first person to record sound and replay it was Thomas Edison, in 1877. His invention, the phonograph, used a needle to carve grooves into a metal or wax cylinder. Edison’s first recording was the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” In 1887, German-American inventor Emile Berliner introduced the gramophone, which used flat records to store and play sound. These could be easily copied and sold. Record players remained common until the 1980s and 1990s, when cassettes and CDs became more popular choices.

Answers to comprehension questions

1b 2b 3a

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub
© EnglishClub.com

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