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Below are two links, each complimenting the other.

The first one is for you to hear.

It’s a recording of Giacomo Puccini and his wife from 1907. They stopped by a studio while on a visit to New York City. Both were quite happy with the hospitality the dignitaries and fans had shown them. Their address is mostly in Italian, but even if you don’t understand the language, you’ll hear him say “New York.” Just before his entourage starts to applaud, he says, “America, forever!”.

The next click will get you to a film of the streets of New York City, made about the same time.

It’s just traffic, but use your imagination a little bit. Look at the windows of the buildings. Behind one of them might be the very studio where the above recording was made.

In those days, a recording studio was nothing like today’s. Electricity was used mainly for lighting. The first “electrical” recordings (made with microphones, amplifiers, and electric cutters) were still almost 2 decades in the future.

The recordings of 1907 were acoustical – that is, they were made with nothing more than the faint energy of the sound waves themselves. The sound was directed from a small room into a huge cone (often several feet in diameter). The cone went through the wall into the next room. Where it came to a point was a vibrating diaphragm with a needle attached. The needle inscribed a groove onto a wax cylinder (Edison system) or a flat gramophone disc (Berliner system).

Modern studios are soundproof, but that was hardly necessary in those days. The acoustical recording equipment was so insensitive that any noise beyond a few feet from the cone was not picked up.

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