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A Moon That Lights Itself

by Michael Begg

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Moonrise 06:18
Moonlight 05:49
Le Bottin 04:08
L'Aube 05:12


During the 1870s, Charles François Daubigny, in the last years of his life, took increasingly to painting nocturnal scenes en plain air from his boat studio, Le Bottin. This was a period in time when the idea of the musical nocturne had progressed from being an indication of what point during the evening a particular piece of music should be played, towards becoming an articulation of the unique atmosphere and emotion occasioned by moonlight.

Elsewhere in France, Edouard-Lean Scott de Martinville conceived and produced the phonautogragh. This device, appearing years before Edison’s phonograph, enabled sound, for the first time, to be captured. Unlike Edison, however, de Martinville neglected - or saw no need - to provide the means to playback the recording. Rather, a visual representation was captured on a lamp black cylinder.

It wasn’t until 2008 when researchers at Berkley University used digital technology to recover the audio. The recording, the first ever made, was of a human voice singing Au Clair De La Lune.


released October 6, 2016

Written and produced by Michael Begg
Mixed and mastered at Captains Quarters, East Lothian

A Moon That Lights Itself was premiered at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh on September 16th 2016, with cello accompaniment from Clea Friend

The work was commissioned by National Galleries Scotland, in conjunction with the major exhibition, Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh, and was completed with the generous support of the Hope Scott Trust.


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