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‘Vox Populi? The Recorded Voice and Twentieth-Century British History’

Moran, J (2014) ‘Vox Populi? The Recorded Voice and Twentieth-Century British History’. Twentieth Century British History, 25 (3). pp. 461-483. ISSN 0955-2359

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The vernacularization of voice-recording technology over the course of the past century means that we have largely forgotten what a strange and quasi-magical thing it is to preserve someone’s voice. This article, first delivered as the Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture, traces the development of voice-recording technologies in the twentieth century from gramophone records to miniaturized mobile devices. It argues that the recording of the voice led to a renewed awareness of the voice as a trained instrument, as a marker of individual identity, and as a way of immortalizing speech and preserving an auditory remnant of people after their deaths. Recording technologies extended the range of voices that could be heard by taking the BBC and other voice capturers beyond the London-based live studios and what Lord Reith referred to as the anonymous ‘collective personality’ of the radio announcers; and it made people listen intently to voices as both expressions of the self and as vehicles for communicating with others. The voice recording technologies of the past century were essentially democratizing, allowing the ‘voice of the people’ to be heard in authentic everyday settings albeit in fragmentary and imperfect ways.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Twentieth Century British History following peer review. The version of record Twentieth Century Brit Hist (2014) 25 (3): 461-483 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwt037
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2014 08:57
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 14:49
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/143
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