Music on the Bone: The Extraordinary History of the X-ray Record

22 Nov 2018

Event times


Cost of entry

Pay what you wish (suggested admission fee is £5)

Calvert 22 Foundation

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • 55, 48, 242, 78, 47, 26, 67, 149, 243, 8, 35, 135, 388
  • 1 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street
  • 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street or Old Street

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Explore the strange world of bootleg X-ray records at a talk by Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield, who will then record a live performance by Hungary’s favourite jazz singer, Veronika Harcsa, using this mysterious technology.


In the Cold War-era Soviet Union, popular culture was ruthlessly controlled by the state. A daring subculture of rebels and music lovers fought the system by recording banned jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and Russian samizdat music onto old X-ray film, a forbidden technology created by a unique group of Eastern Bloc innovators.

Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield of the X-Ray Audio Project will tell the astonishing story of the Soviet bootleggers and the Hungarian amateur archivists whose efforts helped recordings of high cultural value secretly survive the repressive Communist regime.

Hungary’s favourite jazz singer, Veronika Harcsa, will also perform live as they demonstrate the art of cutting music onto an X-ray plate using an original 1950s recording lathe to record the performance.

This is event is presented in partnership with the Hungarian Cultural Centre.

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