LISTEN: Wyoming’s Buffalo Bill Cody Recording From 1898
The man had quite a life.
Buffalo Bill Cody was friends with people like George Armstrong Custer, Annie Oakley, William Tecumseh Sherman, Wild Bill Hickok, Chief Sitting Bull, and the founder of the pony express, which Bill rode for.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West show was the first time in American history that we had superstars, known throughout the nation.
Bill's show gathered these well-known personalities together in a way that keeps their names alive even to this day.
You can find photos of Buffalo Bill to see what he looked like.
But what did he sound like?
There is actually one recording of his voice.
In April 1898, Buffalo Bill Cody made a recording called "Sentiments on the Cuban Question." It isn't the easiest recording to hear every word, but the tone and cadence of his voice are quite remarkable.
Sounds a little scratchy doesn't it?
This was recorded at a time long before digital, or even tape.
Most recorders back then used a flat metal wire to capture the voice.
Buffalo Bill's voice was recorded on a gramophone.
Sound is collected by a horn that is attached to a diaphragm. The sound causes vibrations in the air that travel down the horn causing the diaphragm to vibrate. The diaphragm is connected to a stylus and pressed into a cylinder covered in wax (or alternatively a thin layer of tin foil). (PBS).
Here is a demonstration of how Buffalo Bill's voice would have been recorded.
He sounds about as most people imagined him to sound.
Well-educated and capable of proper diction.