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There are three types of sound content; spoken word, music and other sounds. The carriers used for sound recordings are the same, whatever the content.

Spoken word

Recordings of the human voice fall into groups:

  • One or more people reading aloud a novel, non-fiction work or poetry. An accessible format for visually impaired people, but also used by sighted people.
  • Recordings of broadcasts (plays, radio programmes, etc).
  • Recordings of speeches and interviews.


These are recordings of performances of musical works. Musical works may be for single or multiple instruments, single or multiple voices or combinations of voice(s) and instrument(s). Some musical works are created using digital techniques.

Other sounds

Various types of sound other than the spoken word and music have been recorded - animal noises, machinery sounds (e.g. a steam train), natural sounds (e.g. waves) - either to make a permanent record or for use as sound effects in films and broadcasts, etc.


A large range of carriers have been used to hold sound recordings.

  • Paper rolls with punched perforations
  • Wax cylinders
  • Discs (of varying sizes and materials - e.g. LPs, EPs)
  • Tape (cassettes, cartridges and reels)
  • CDs and DVDs

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Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 26-May-2005
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