Digital Media

How was the first sound recording done?

Did you know that humanity’s first recording was done by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1860 in Paris? Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented sound recording when he thought of a machine that does for the ear what the camera did for the eye.  He called it a phonautograph and it inscribed airborne sounds onto paper, over time, to be studied visually. These recordings he called phonautograms. These phonautograms however could not be played back, they were simply inscriptions of the sound captured.
Since then Thomas Edison separately and independently from Scott de Martinvilles’ work invented the phonograph in an experiment which included an indenting stylus, a diaphragm, a telephone speaker, and paraffin-coated paper. Thomas Edison shouted into the speaker as the paper was pulled under the stylus; when the paper was pulled back through the stylus the recording of Thomas Edison yelling could be faintly heard, thus the birth of the phonograph and the science of sound at large.
Through the years sound recording has evolved into an art form by itself where the sound person/engineer can create immersive experiences with sound using a wide array of equipment and technology.
If you listen to your favorite music track with your eyes closed, you should be transported to the place the music is talking about! That is good sound work.
Today sound engineers are important wherever sound is being recorded or projected to an audience because they understand the technicalities of sound, spaces and people well enough to make the experience good and intelligible.
Sound desk: Sound engineering
Many sound engineers in Kenya have had little or no formal training but get into it out of sheer passion and love of the job. Some of the country’s top sound guys are self-taught with a few others having earned themselves to study this artful science abroad.
As the Kenyan creative economy grows and starts to get some international attention Sound engineers are a core element of the creative environment. They create immersive sound experiences for films, and music among other things where sound is critical.
Some notable sound engineers and producers in Kenya today include Julius Okoti, Phillip Makanda, Freddie Dillie, Eric Musyoka also known as Syoks among others who have taken the Kenyan music production to a whole new level with crisp sounds that aptly reflect the culture of the day.
But even these guys stand on big shoulders such as Tim ‘Ennovator’ Rimbui and Pacho (ogopa) and others who opened the way for them when music was considered a fools fancy in this country. These giants have also mentored and trained more young Kenyans into sound engineering and music production as the demand for homegrown sounds grows.
But you don’t have to take the long route today, with the establishment of the Africa Digital Media Institute which is committed to growing the creative economy in Kenya and engages globally renowned sound artists to train young Kenyans who are passionate about sound and music production. This is its contribution to enabling young Kenyans create a sustainable creative industry which adds value to the economy at large.
The next time you close your eyes listening to a beautiful piece of music and you want to be part of making that magic happen, talk to us and we will show you how. 
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