18 September 2010

Our first-ever HMV gramophone at home

Just as a Chinese saying goes, 'Even the cleverest housewife cannot cook a meal without rice (巧婦難為無米之炊),' so I deem that a well preserved and properly serviced vintage gramophone cannot demonstrate its magic capacity of sound reproduction without a 78s record.

Although having long ago finished a doctoral thesis on popular music in 1930s and 1940s Shanghai and still conducting researches on music in the first half of the twentieth centry, I've never thought of having a gramophone at home until about three weeks ago.

Somehow, I was convinced that there should be a gramophone at home. Thus, I place a bid on eBay and won an HMV 101 portable immdiately after returning from the holiday in Britain. The machine arrived in great condition last Friday.

However, I couldn't operate it in the first place. The turntable did 'turn', but no music would come out as I had no records to play. Fortunately, two 78s records I bought from, again, eBay arrived yestday after a long wait.

This morning, while playing a record with my son in my arms stunned by the marvelous talking machine, the image of this most recognised dog in the world surfaced on my mind.

(Image taken from Wikimedia Commons)

Whereas in the painting, on which the HMV logo was based, the dog Nipper was listening to 'his master's voice' coming out through the horn of a wind-up gramophone, at Principle Wei's home, the father and son were watching the magic machine delivering the Hebrew folk song 'Hava Nagila'.

(The vintage Decca 78s produced in the 1940s—the first record purchased in my life and the first one played on this machine at my home)

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