Sound Storing Machines: The First 78rpm Records from Japan, 1903-1912 on Sublime Frequencies (the album cover is a black and white sepia photograph of a young Japanese woman in traditional dress playing 78rpm records on a gramophone)

Various - Sound Storing Machines: The First 78rpm Records from Japan, 1903-1912


  • £18.99

The first commercial recordings from Asia were made in Japan in 1903 by Fred Gaisberg, the legendary producer and recording engineer who travelled the world making recordings for the Gramophone Company (later His Masters Voice). The recording industry barely existed at this time (the ability to record and reproduce sound had only existed since 1877 with the invention of Edison’s cylinder phonograph, and flat disc records had only come into being in the late 1890s), and Japan had only just begun to open its doors to the rest of the world. 

Including gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more. these recordings are a unique glimpse into an ancient culture and an important document of the beginnings of the recording industry. Featuring both important artists and those who only appeared to sing before the recording horn, Sound Storing Machines spans only 9 years of recording - from 1903 and the first commercial recordings made by Fred Gaisberg to 1912, the beginning of Japan’s homegrown record industry. 


  1. Bairo [1903] 
  2. Senryou Nobori [1904] 
  3. Chikumagawa [1906] 
  4. Kappore [c. 1903] 
  5. Hokai-bushi Oiwake-bushi [1903] 
  6. Matsukaze [Wind in the Pines] [1903] 
  7. Rakugo: Ukiy-buro [Scene in a Public Bath] [1903] 
  8. Taishikichou [1903] 
  9. Shiokumi Kasatsukashi [Collecting Water] [1906] 
  10. Yokyoku [from the noh drama Kakitsubata] [c. 1907] 
  11. Sanjusangen-do Kiyori [1906] 
  12. Neko Ja [cat dance] [c. 1904] 
  13. Horikawa Sarumawashi [The Monkey Trainer] [c. 1909] 
  14. Sakaya no dan [from Sankatsu Hanchichi - The Double Suicide, or The Love Suicides] [1910] 
  15. Joruri Taiko-ki Ju Danme [c. 1912] 


  • US import 
  • LP is limited edition and includes insert with liner notes by Robert Millis 
  • CD housed in digipack case 



also on Sublime Frequencies: 
Various - Pakistan Folk & Pop Instrumentals 1966-1976   CD 
Various - Mien (Yao): Cannon Singing in China, Vietnam, Laos   LP 


browse collections: 
Traditional/folk music collection 


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