I have created a little mix of early spoken recordings as a possible audio intro for The Victorianator. It consists of seven tracks mixed into a crackly soundscape:
Track 1. Alfred Tennyson reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. I took the opening line of Tennyon’s 1890 recording and used it as the recurrent loop underneath the other late Victorian recitations of this poem that I integrated into the soundscape. The loop does have a kind of subtle closure as I provide a recurrent clip of Tennyson saying “Half a league, half a league, half a league…” and then the last time it appears in the 42 second clip, he gets to finish the line with the phrase, “onward”.
Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, Lewis Waller, Henry Ainley, Canon Fleming, Rose Coughlan, reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” These recordings of professional elocutionists and actors reading Tennyson’s poem were made between 1895 and 1912. Waller’s recitation is an example of mechanical elocution, with lots of embarrassing vibrato and explosive utterance. Ainley and Fleming were “natural” elocutionists, delivering the poem with the dramatic situation of the scene in mind. Rose Coghlan, a Victorian actress, made the first recording of the poem with sound effects, and in the snippet I include, you can here the bugle call integrated into her performance.
Track 6, Piano music from the opening of Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s spoken recording of “Svengali” from Paul Potter’s dramatic adaptation of George Du Maurier’s novel, Trilby. I have not been able to identify the piece that is being performed, but it is supposed to be an example of German or French romantic music as performed by the character Svengali in the play. I chose this music (over many other early music recordings) because it was used as the prelude to a late Victorian spoken recording.
Track 7. Big Ben, London. This is one of the earliest documentary recordings that I know of. It was made in 1890, and it captures the sound of Big Ben, the clock tower in London, chiming. It is interesting not only as an example of the fact that sound recording literally records time (i.e. it’s a temporality medium), but also for the time ‘stamp’ announcement that is made at the start of the recording, and which I include in our soundscape.
The clip as a whole may be too long as an audio intro, but we’ll see. dicount on swamppotable coolers It will be looped to replay again and again until it drives you crazy, or you begin to play the game.
Have a listen: