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230 Early, Sgt James. Flute. Born Carrickavoher, Aughavas, Co. Leitrim, he was a contemporary in Chicago of Francis O’Neill, and source of many of his collected tunes. Ediphone. A brand name of the earliest form of sound-reproducing machine. In an international climate of stimulating competition in the field, at New Jersey in 1877, Thomas Edison succeeded in recording, and playing back, ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ through a cylinder ‘talking machine’. This was achieved by capturing vocal sound waves in a funnel; the vibrations thus caused were picked up by a sensitive diaphragm to which was fixed a sharp needle.This scored an impression of the vibrations in an up-and-down (hills and valleys) fashion, on a rotating, soft-metal-foil-coated cylinder. The needle assembley moved forward horizontally, lathe fashion,on a fine screw-thread,as the cylinder rotated.In this way the groove cut in the metal was ‘wrapped around’the length of the cylinder.Because of its varying depth in response to loudness of the source sound, this ‘sound-groove’ was a physical representation of the fluctuations in volume and tone of the recorded sound. So was born sound recording and reproduction. Wax-coated cylinders were then used to improve reception quality, and an electric motor was used to generate the steady rotation required.As the technology improved,not only was it possible to record/replay the spoken word,but it was then applied to the singing voice. entertainment This was displayed to great excitement as a scientific item in itself. Demonstrations of it in Grafton St.,Dublin were advertised in the press in 1878, with wonder at the fact that the machine could record and play back speech ‘In Every Known Language’(Carolan, p. 77 in Clune, 2007). While early acoustic recordings of music instruments sounded feeble and withdrawn, the human voice,being able to project into the acoustic horn, reproduced more strongly. For collectors of folklore and music the machine was a revolution. By 1890 the available four-inch Ediphone cylinders could give three to four minutes of recording time; a six-inch gave nine minutes. These could be slowed down or speeded up; collectors could analyse and transcribe for posterity ‘in peace and quiet’; springs were perfected so that heavy electric motors were no longer required, replaced by a simple clock-style winder. In 1896 machines became available for domestic use; blank cylinders were withdrawn from the open commercial market in 1913 due to competition from other means of reproduction,but were still in demand,and so were still manufactured up until the 1930s and can still be bought. The Ediphone cylinder recorder was relatively expensive and was not commonly found in Ireland. It was used by individual enthusiasts and by the Irish Folklore Commission to record music, song and folklore for transcription. Since folklore collectors tended to record, transcribe and scrape clean (in much the same way that radio and television stations often did so electronically with tape in the years since),comparatively few cylinder sound recordings survive.Among these are recordings of music and voice from Co.Waterford, made by Richard Henebry for the Berlin Phonogrammarchiv in Berlin, and recordings made by Francis O’Neill in the US in the process of assembling his music collections. [EDI] pre-recorded cylinders. These offered everything from minstrel songs and opera to stage-Irish sketches. A galvanic, electrolytic process made it possible to make tough ‘masters’ in copper from which f resh wax or tough plastic copies could Menestral Rocaille, 1903, phonograph [courtesy Musée du Son, St Fargeau] E education 231 be reproduced on a mass scale. These were sold in large quantities to an audience for whom the main interest was amazement.Uilleann piper Patsy Touhey was among the earliest musicians to spot the potential for recording professionalism, for he made and sold cylinders of his own playing. Competition from flat recording discs spurred Edison to continue refinement of the cylinder, and his four-minute ‘Blue Amberol’ series introduced in 1912 was the peak of the cylinder’s capabilities, with a frequency response of 200–3,000 cycles per second. By 1914 the cylinder’s battle with the flat disc had been lost and Edison ceased cylinder production in 1929. Ediphone cylinders can now be ‘translated’to digital format,and so Touhey’s music is now available on cd. [HAB] See also Feis Ceoil; recordings. education. Prior to the 1970s there was almost no public acknowledgement of or...


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