The opening of the video shows rainbow stripes moving across the screen from left to right. A cloud shape pops into the coloured stripes containing an image of a gramophone. The video title 'What Is This' is superimposed on the gramophone. A question mark bounces into position at the end of the text ('What Is This ?') and an eyeball rolls around in the dot forming the bottom of the question mark and winks. Upbeat music plays in the background. A swarm of question marks moves across and fills the frame.
The question marks dissolve to a close-up of a needle floating on a spinning long-playing record. A scratching sound can be heard.
It cuts to Angela (the presenter) and Teddy (a small yellow hand puppet), both standing behind a table. An animated cartoon-like TV screen floats in the frame to Angela's right (screen left) and above Teddy. It contains and image of the needle and spinning disc.
ANGELA: What is this? It looks like a tiny needle pointing down onto something. It's attached to a metal, disc-shaped object about the size of a very large coin or medal. Mmm ... I think we need a clue.
Music, a band with a woman singing, begins to play. In the TV screen on the right the needle and spinning disc can be seen.
ANGELA: Okay, I can hear some music playing.
TEDDY: Hey, Angela, that music sounds very scratchy and the lady singing sounds a long way away.
ANGELA: I think it sounds quite old, Teddy. But I'm still not sure what this object is.
TEDDY: Is it making the music? I reckon we need to see some more. We're too close.
(A full screen close up of needle and spinning disc shows a brass arm resting on a long-playing record. The camera pulls back for a wider view so that the wood cabinet and winding crank can be seen. An image of a dog looking at a gramophone horn is on the front of the cabinet.)
ANGELA: The needle is resting on a thin black rotating disc. The part holding the needle is attached to a brass tube which runs parallel to the black disc. What else can you see Teddy?
TEDDY: At the end of the tube I can see a really big brass horn.
(The vision shows a close up of the top of brass horn and then moves slowly down to the cabinet.)
TEDDY: The black disc is resting on a beautiful, shiny wooden box.
ANGELA: You're right, Teddy. The wooden box has four sides. One side has a picture of a cute little dog sitting in front of a machine that looks the same as this object. (Close-up of the picture which has the words 'The Gramophone Company Ltd' below it.) Another side has a metal handle with a wooden knob on the end.
ANGELA: Have you figured out what this is?
(Wide shot of Angela and Teddy behind the table with the gramophone between them.
ANGELA It's called a gramophone, and it's used for listening to music. (The word 'Gramophone' with animated question marks in the background is displayed on the TV screen.)
TEDDY: Hey, Angela, it looks really old.
ANGELA: It is. This one was made over 100 years ago when my great-grandparents were alive!
TEDDY: That is old! Hey, I know what that black thing is. It's a record. My Pop's got heaps of them. It has music recorded on both sides. I don't know how it works, though.
ANGELA: Well, I think I know. This needle (Angela's hand points to needle) – called a stylus – picks up the sound from the groove on the surface of the record (Angela's hand circles around record imitating the movement of the stylus.)
TEDDY: Where do you plug it in though? I can't see a cord.
(Wide shot of Angela on the right, the gramophone in the middle, Teddy on the left with the TV set above him containing rotating question marks.)
ANGELA: That's because gramophones didn't need electricity. I'll show you. You crank this handle on the side of the box, release the brake and that makes the record spin round.
(While Angela speaks the vision shows a close-up of Angela's hands cranking the handle, a close-up of Angela's hand moving a small metal lever that sticks out from under the record and a close-up of the record spinning.)
TEDDY Ah, I get it. And then you put the stylus in the groove, and the music plays.
(Angela places stylus on spinning record. A woman starts to sing very loudly in an operatic style.)
TEDDY: Wow! The sound is coming out of that big horn and it's really loud. Put a sock in it, will ya!
ANGELA (laughing): You know, that's exactly how you control the volume of the music on a gramophone.
TEDDY: What do you mean?
ANGELA: To make the music softer, you can put a couple of rolled-up socks inside the horn.
(Angela shows rolled socks to camera and drops them into the top of the horn. The music volume drops.)
TEDDY: Who would've thought?!
(Angela take the stylus off the record, and turns on the brake. The music stops.)
TEDDY: But that's different to how you turn the volume down on things today. My CD player has a volume knob. No socks required.
ANGELA: Since the time when gramophones were made, there've been lots of changes in the ways we listen to recorded music and the ways that they work.
ANGELA: Gramophones were eventually powered by electricity and as fashions changed over the years, how gramophones looked changed too. Then came cassette players, CDs and now we have digital music players like iPods and MP3 players.
(Images of a 1960s portable record player, a 1980s Walkman cassette player, a portable CD player and an iPod are displayed as Angela talks about them.)
Who knows what we'll be using in the future to listen to music.
(To camera) See you later.
TEDDY (to camera): Bye-bye.
(Music fades out.)
ANGELA: What do you think we might use to listen to music in the future, Ted?
TEDDY: Choccie bikkies?
ANGELA: Oh Teddy ... but then you wouldn't be able to eat them!
TEDDY: Aw ... Hadn't thought of that ...
Upbeat music. An animation of rainbow stripes moving across the screen from left to right. A cloud shape pops into the coloured stripes containing an image of a gramophone. The video title 'What Is This?' is superimposed on the gramophone. This dissolves to National Museum of Australia logo.
Unless otherwise indicated (in this copyright notice or in relation to particular material on this website) you may copy, distribute, display, download and print the material on this web page for your own person use, for non-commercial education purposes or for non-commercial use within your organisation, provided that you attribute the National Museum of Australia. All other rights are reserved by the Museum. For example, you will have to obtain permission from the Museum if you wish to: (a) charge others for access to the material (other than at cost); (b) include the material in advertising or a product for sale; or (c) alter the material; unless a notice for that material provides otherwise.
The curriculum links in this resource are drawn from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Australian Curriculum: History website.