Imagine a sample library of sounds from antiquity?
Through a series of experiments and recorded history, it seems that sounds could have been inadvertently recorded before the invention of modern sound recording.
According to an article by Christer Hamp, 'Archaeoacoustics' is the recovery of sounds from the time before the invention of recording. This implies that such sounds would have been recorded inadvertently, while intending to do sometring else. Not much has been written about this subject and only very few experiments have been made.
Christer Hamp writes:
What is probably the first publication on the subject appeared in 1969, when Richard G. Woodbridge...could pick up the noise produced by the potter's wheel from a pot, using a hand-held crystal cartridge (Astatic Corp. Model 2) with a wooden stylus, connected directly to a set of headphones. The second experiment yielded 60 Hz hum from the motor driving the potter's wheel. More interesting were the following experiments, with a canvas being painted while exposed to sounds. In the third experiment the canvas was painted with a variety of different paints while exposed to martial music from loudspeakers. Some of the brush strokes had a striated appearance, and "short snatches of the music" could be indentified. For the fourth experiment, the painter spoke the word "blue" during a stroke of the brush, and after a long search the word could be heard again when stroking the canvas with the stylus. ...Years later, similar experiments were made in Gothenburg, Sweden, by archaeology professor Paul Åström and acoustics professor Mendel Kleiner2.I can just imagine the sample libraries that can be created - Nero's fiddle! David's harp! Cleopatra's shawms! Pan's pipes! the Ancient Sirens! The possibilities of time-travel sampling are limitless.
...if we want to recover sounds from hundreds of years back, we would then have to look for objects on the surfaces of which sounds have been recorded unintentionally. Then we would have to have some idea about where to begin. What we need is:
1. A surface soft enough to recieve an imprint of the low energy of the sound, yet it has to solidify before this imprint is smeared beyond recognition. ..One object often mentioned in the newspapers as a possible source of sound is Leonardo da Vinci's 500 year old painting Mona Lisa (La Gioconda). It does not seem to give any possibilities of hearing either Leonardo's or Mona Lisa's voice, however, as it is painted on wood, a material probably too stiff to vibrate enough for our purposes.
2. This surface would have to be formed during movement, as we need a time axis along which to search for the recorded sound.
3. Transversely to this time axis, there must be a movement produced by the sound vibrations. This could be a movement of the tool used to work the surface - as in the case of the potter's wheel - or of the surface itself - as in the case of the painter's canvas.
4. The surface would also have had to withstand the ravages of time in a more or less pristine condition if we are to make out anything at all through the noise. Nor must it have been covered with any substance that smooths the surface markings.
...The results are rather encouraging for those who wish to hear the sounds of antiquity. The stylus analysis showed that the maximum force on a possible stylus (in this case a feather used to decorate a pot) would occur at high frequencies, those carrying the consonants of speech and thus the maximum information.