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Phonography—literally “sound-writing”—refers to the project of embodying the transient motion or perception of sound in enduring objects. It is usually defined contrastively, relative to some other practice that is perceived as less aurally expressive; for example, “phonographic” writing is based on the aural patterns of words, in contrast to ideographic writing. What it means to “record” and “reproduce” sound phonographically has coevolved with new technological developments, including the phonautograph’s automatic “reproduction” of sound on paper for visual apprehension in the 1850s and the Edison phonograph’s capture of audio waveforms for “reproduction” as actual sound in the 1870s. The creative practices implicated in these technologies have further expanded the scope of phonography beyond the documentation of original sounds to include techniques such as speed-shifting, reversing, mixing, sampling, and synthesis, as well as phonogenic adaptations of behavior analogous to posing or acting for the camera.

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