Capturing the sounds of the past seems almost impossible, yet these “authentic sounds,” when available, can connect us to another time in an almost magical way.
In the front parlor of the Merchant’s House Museum in New York City there is a pianoforte that dates to the 1840s and remarkably retains all of its original parts. It has been been reconditioned, using these parts, and is now in playable condition. A concealed speaker softly plays a looped recording of tunes from a music lesson book bearing the name of the oldest daughter of the family who lived in the house. Stand in that parlor furnished with the family’s furniture; see what they saw, and hear what they heard. You’ll never come closer to the 19th century.
Soundworks documents the creation of “authentic sound” for Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln. The sound designer discusses his efforts to collect sounds at historic sites and in museum collections, such as the clocks and doors at the White House and a pocket watch at the Kentucky Historical Society.