Page 18 - Summer2019
P. 18

Early Talking Automata
from a contemporary newspaper report in Paris in 1877, exactly
’ l I one hundred years after Mical.
I’: :1‘  . 1 Faber called his talking automaton the “Euphonia” and first
“  - ‘ V‘ 3‘ J / presented it in 1841, giving public performances almost con-
- '5 .~ My’ _ E '_ /’ tinuously for many years until his death in 1864. Afterward, his
‘  ‘ '-F‘. invention was further improved and exhibited as the “Amazing
 .  :4‘ _;‘ fr,‘ = -  Talking Machine” byhis niece, Marie Trunka, and nephew-in-
V; : "mas /' _‘ -\: - law, Samuel Husserl, until 1887. Fascinating accounts of the
/- _ _ I" f travels and travails of Fabers mechanical speaking machine
’ ' ’( I ‘ can be found in Altick (1978) and Lindsay (1997a).
I — .  I I Faber’s speaking machine is notable for many significant
if advances in the synthesis of human speech. For the first
time, all sound production occurs by modulating the pas-
Figure 5. The mechanism of Faber’: "Euphonia,‘ illustrated by du sage of airflow through a single tube shape, just like in a
Mancel (1882), showing the bellaws (S), the vibrating reed (L), the real vocal tract, whereas previous models had to coor-
trill mechanism (M), the moving blocks (D), the jaw (A and B), the dinate multiple separate mechanisms to create different
tangue (C), the palate (E), the nasal cavity (G, H, and I), and the classes of sound, breaking the analogy between model and
levers (t) connected to the keyboard; arrows indicate the directian af physics. Also for the first time, synthesis is controlled by
airflaw. Repraducedfram du Mancel (1882). direct manipulation of the vocal tract area function, under
  physiological constraints inspired by the articulators. Com-
pleting the gamut of musical analogies, this was the first
set up the keyboard mapping so that the keys would produce keyboard instrument to successfully play speech, and this
the following basic sounds: a, 0, M, i, e, L Y. 14;: 5, ch, 17, d, and is scientifically significant because the keyboard mecha-
g, which we now recognize phonetically as subsets of vowels, nism encapsulated the need for coordination of multiple
liquids, fricatives, and plosives. One of the pedals controlled ‘ V . , “ , ‘ ‘ H‘ ‘ V _ ‘
nasality and another controlled voicing and pitch, with the l 3 l‘;__' ‘ ‘  L lwll   [ ‘V . hr
last pedal manipulating the bellows. By pressing different 3 V‘? 3"  J‘ ‘- ‘ l ‘ i i V , ? E» , , 5‘ 1  Jim "
keys and pedals either together or in sequence while pushing  ‘ l rial’  i "l ‘ ’ 3 ‘
air out of the bellows, any utterance that could be transcribed < ‘ i_Lg.,E%‘_.! El FE Ea ' A -"
in terms of these basic articulations could be played on the 3, '. ‘ - fig“ ll“ V " -  v V ' F! a‘
keyboard and intonation could be added by continuously >34.  ' -1“ 
varying the pitch pedal. Spring loading in the key and rod , , ll ’ " 2-.,‘~.., -  \
mechanisms contributed inertia and damping, resulting in 7‘ 7‘ 1; V '4
a smooth interpolation between adjacent sounds, approxi- . l__ ‘ . v , i
mating coarticulation. When demonstrating his invention, ' V"  \
Faber would ask for sentences from the audience in any Ian- -1: >_' 7:5 '— » ' V‘- , r 
guage, which he would then play back on the machine after . 7,»  ' v * 7‘? -
transcribing them phonetically in his head, reportedly with F 7;‘ :7‘ — V — ‘‘__h'___
a German accent. In London in 1846, he even managed to
get it to sing “God Save the Queen.” Figure 6. Faber’: "Euphonia.' exhibited at the Grand Hate! in Paris in
1877 by his niece and nephew-in-law. This is me afthe few illustratians
A full description of the machine and its operation was pub- of the whole speaking machine, shawing the bellows driven by a faot
lishedbydu Moncel (1882), andthe onlylcnown diagram of the pedal, the box containing the mechanism shown in Figure 5, and
mechanism is reproduced from that account in Figure 5. An the system afrads and levers linking the difierent articulators tn the
illustration of the entire machine is shown in Figure 6, taken keyboard. Repraduced from L’111ustratian (January 1877).
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