The latest additions to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress have been announced. A total of 25 were named, including a series of interviews that Willis Conover did with jazz musicians for the Voice of America.
Of most interest might be what are called the first known audio recordings. Made by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville and called “phonautograms,” they were made in 1853 or 1854 by using a boar bristle as a scribe, marking onto blacked glass plates. They were not meant to be listened to; Scott was using them for acoustic research, but modern technology has allowed the guitar and voice recordings to be heard.
Musical offerings include a large number of jazz, blues and pop recordings from the likes of Blind Willie Johnson, Professor Longhair, Henry Mancini (“Peter Gunn”), Captain Beefheart, Al Green (“Let’s Stay Together”), Steely Dan (“Aja”) and De La Soul. The Boswell Sisters with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, Tammy Wynette (“Stand by Your Man”) and the Sons of the Pioneers (“Tumbling Tumbleweeds”) also made the cut.
Nonmusical recordings include “Songs of the Humpback Whale,” a sermon from Rev. C.L. Franklin (Aretha’s father), a Mort Sahl performance and a series of spoken recordings by “Ishi,” the last Yahi Indian speaking in his own language.