I had the chance to visit with my friend Haji Maji, aka Dave, this weekend, while I was out of town. Although the visit was too brief, it was fun to be around someone equally as obsessed, and with a genuine love of lost and found early music from outside
of the U.S., on 78rpm. Great, rare music was spun.
So, with his musical interests in mind, I decided to upload one of my Chinese records. I believe it stems from Hong Kong, and was recorded by the independent German Beka label, probably from the late teens/early 20s…give or take. The title, Yu Wang Tan Ming, translates to “The Fisherman’s Lament.”
A detailed history of the Beka label, founded in 1903, has yet to have been written, but surely would be fascinating. The German record industry was hugely dependent on export sales, and Beka were already recording in Asia as early as 1905-1906 (see the Excavated Shellac Vietnam entry). Several years later, the company was then bought by Carl Lindstrom, A.G., a maker of gramophone players. Lindstrom was eventually sold to the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1926, although the German branch of Lindstrom seems to have operated independently for some years afterwards. Asleep yet? Then, time to listen!
For more on the history of early recording in Asia, check Pekka Gronow’s article “The Record Industry Comes to the Orient,” from Ethnomusicology 25/2 (1981): 251-284.
And for more Chinese opera, head over to Haji Maji!
Technical Notes Label: Beka Issue Number: 223 (2) Matrix Number: 22769 (Bn)
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