History of EVPs

If our personality survives,
then it is strictly logical or scientific to assume that it retains
memory, intellect, other faculties,
and knowledge that we acquire on this Earth.
Therefore…if we can evolve an instrument so delicate
as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life,
such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something.
~ Thomas Edison


It’s easy to assume that electronic voice phenomena is a recent discovery, what with all the new fangled gadgets out there that make our lives so much simpler.

EVPs have, in fact, been around since long before the digital age erupted with such force.

In 1949, Marcello Bacci of Italy began recording voices with an old tube radio. People would come to Bacci’s home to talk with their departed relatives. A few years later, two Italian priests named Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli were trying to record a Gregorian chant on their magnetophone, but the machine kept breaking. Exasperated, Father Gemelli looked up and asked his father for help. To his surprise, his dead father’s voice answered from the magnetophone, “Of course I shall help you. I’m always with you.”1

The most famous man associated with early EVP recordings, however, is Swedish painter, musician and film producer Friedrich Jürgenson. He first caught something on a tape recording that was out of the ordinary in the late 1950s.

In 1959 he brought his tape recorder along to the family’s summer cottage to record birds. When he played back the tape it was saturated with hiss and noise, and he could barely detect the bird song inside it all. Suddenly, in the midst of the noise, a trumpet-like signal interrupted the hiss, and the startled Jürgenson heard a voice speaking in Norwegian! Right after that the tape functioned normally, reproducing all the sounds of the birds that it had been his intent to record.2

While the general public wasn’t impressed with what Jürgenson shared via press conference, it did catch the attention of respected Latvian psychologist Konstantin Raudive. The two men met and while Raudive did have problems understanding the initial recording provided by Jürgenson, they decided to hold an EVP recording session together and afterward Raudive was able to clearly understand a remark to a statement he’d made during the session.

Raudive and Jurgenson collaborated together in recording sessions until June 1965 with results that were described as tenuous at best. On the night of June10th, 1965, they recorded results that were unparalleled at the time by using what later became known as “radio voices.” The results of that night included the words “Friedrich! Friedrich!” and the sentence that cemented Raudive’s foray into EVP: “Do you know Margaret, Konstantin?” Prior to this session, a very close friend of Konstantin’s, Margaret Petrautzki, had died from severe illness. Raudive knew that he needed to investigate this further in a more controlled environment away from Jurgenson while using his own equipment. If he could reproduce the results, then there may be something to recording the “voices from space.”3

Raudive returned home and spent the next three years making new recordings gathering 72,000 recordings of distinct voices. He, along with 400 other individuals, some of whom had been present at the recordings, analysed 25,000 of these recordings which were compiled for his book “Breakthrough”.

Raudive’s claims were really put to the test in the early 70s after the publication of “Breakthroughs”.

Pye Records had a long list of recording artists at that time and their British studio provided a pristine recording environment for EVP experimentation. Dr. Raudive accepted the challenge and conducted an 18 minute experiment with the audio engineers. During the session, it was impossible for outside voices to be present within the sound-proofed walls of the studio. The engineers heard nothing while the session was being recorded. Upon playback, they were astonished to find that in addition to Raudive’s voice, over 200 other disincarnate voices were heard during the 18 minute session. Despite this remarkable evidence, Raudive and his recordings are still dismissed by the skeptic community.3

Throughout the years since, various individuals and groups have recorded what they claim to be electronic voice phenomena of the deceased (though one American claims to have communicated with aliens in this manner as well). In 1979 George Meek invented the “Spiricom” with the help of his colleague Bill O’Neal. The pair readily gave away the blueprints for this device, but none seem to have had the success they have.

Despite the development of better recording equipment, mainstream science has yet to accept any of these claims as valid. So why do most EVP sessions by individuals seem to be one-off events? Are they faking things to make themselves become popular? In today’s digital age, one might conclude that they are because the digital world has allowed so many things to be faked, but what of those recordings which happened long before the digital age came into being? Are they real or faked? If faked, why? I also find it interesting that a well-known and well-respected scientist such as Thomas Edison would believe as he did about an existence after death.

Books on the early years of EVP:

  • When the Dead Speak by Father Leo Schmid
  • The Inaudible Becomes Audible by Dr Konstantin Raudive
  • Voices From the Tapes: Recordings from the Other World by Peter Bander
  • Talks With the Dead by William Addams Welsh
  • The Vertical Plane by Kenneth Webster
  • Phone Calls From the Dead by Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless

Resources:
1 – HowStufWorks “EVP History”
2 – Friedrich Jürgenson
3 – Konstantin Raudive and His ITC EVP Breakthrough

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