The phrase his master’s voice is a reference to the title of a late 19th century painting by Francis Barraud, in which a dog is listening to a gramophone. The dog, Nipper, had belonged to Barraud’s late brother Mark. When a recording was played of Mark’s voice, Nipper was observed to be keenly interested in the presence of such disembodied speech. The painting was sold, ultimately to become the image associated with famed record labels, and then over time with specific pressings and re-issues of recordings within those labels.
The pieces in his master’s voice were initially turned on a lathe to produce a bowl and a cow’s femur, a process quite similar to both the production and the listening to of a standard record. Both items are common to dogs, with the bone being an object of constant chewing and engraving, until ultimately it shatters into several pieces, mirrored here as shards in the vessel. This is a recording of non voice– the lack of language.