What happens when Fred Gaisberg arrives in ancient Tokyo with his new-fangled recording equipment? Find out in today’s new episode.

Listen to Fred’s adventures in the Far East

After India, Fred goes to the Far East. But when he arrives in Tokyo in January 1903, he is rocked by some terrible family news. Stuck on the other side of the world, Fred does what he’s done countless times before: he throws himself into his job. Once the crates and crates of equipment are finally released by Japanese customs, he embarks on a recording frenzy.

In one day alone he makes some 54 records. However he isn’t a fan of the music, initially at least. It is, he said, “too horrible for words”. But as the weeks pass, he warms to it. A world of new instruments and sounds open up to him. He makes disc after disc, some of which Holley and Hall play here.

Fred throws himself into the local culture. The story of his trip to a Japanese theatre is something to behold. After Japan, Fred heads to China, Thailand, Burma and elsewhere. In this episode we recount these travels, looking at his early 20th century experiences through a 21st century prism. But if his escapades sound like little more than a sonic gap year, think again. There is a serious side to it all. In travelling to parts of the world where the gramophone is – at best – a strange curio, Fred plants the seeds of the modern music industry. And he does it with all the humour, vigour and eccentricity that we’ve come to expect from him.


  1. The Imperial Palace Band – Seigaiha (1903)
  2. G.U. Hsu – The English Sound Table


Traditional Japanese instruments

This episode was edited by Andy Hetherington.

The Sound Of The Hound is powered by EMI Archives Trust.

You can subscribe to the podcast on all good podcast platforms including Spotify  Apple and Acast.

We hope you enjoy listening as much as we’ve enjoyed recording them!


3 thoughts on “What happens when Fred Gaisberg arrives in ancient Tokyo with his new-fangled recording equipment? Find out in today’s new episode.

  1. Just to say how much I enjoyed this episode. Pronounced the same way, in case you are not aware, the current Tom Ades has become a very distinguished composer. In 1995 whilst in his early 20’s thanks to Peter Alward he was signed exclusively to EMI Classics and has written such seminal operas as Powder her face a rather racy and often performed chamber opera about the Duchess of Argyll.




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