around the world at 78rpm

by Dax Diaz
1,139 plays
Nguyen Van Thong


In the 1940s the Czechoslovakian label Supraphon released 78s by Asian artists from countries as far away as Mongolia, North Korea, and Vietnam, among other places. The other side of this record is a mystery since it’s billed solely to Nguyen Van Thong, but begins with an acapela track by what very much sounds like a woman. In between that song and the next, the record is banded so one has to lift the needle to get to the second song, which Nguyen Van Thong clearly sings and plays guitar on- a tune as happy as the one here is sad. So either Nguyen could sound like both a man and a woman and was as comfortable singing unaccompanied as he was sliding on the frets, or some woman didn’t get any credit. That side with both tracks is streaming at

701 plays
Lao Sai Bo Hong Bang with Zi Bhung & Eng Guang


Here are both sides of a Teochew record by the Lao Sai Bo Hong Bang troupe with singers Zi Bhung & Eng Guang from Guangdong’s Chenghai District. From the earliest accounts of Chinese opera in the 13th century Yuan Dynasty up until the 1900s, all the parts were played by men, so it’s unclear whether the singers here are male or female. If anyone can give some information, it’s always welcome, and any additions, translation/correction help with the lyrics and label is much appreciated.

To hear more of this kind of stuff check out

Thanks to Peter Doolan and Haji Maji for the information here.

391 plays
Zhao Jun Yuan Ensemble


Here are two sides of a Chinese record. Any information regarding what type of music this is as well as any help translating the label is much appreciated. See large label scan in the comments. Thanks to Peter Doolan for translating the group’s name.

2,207 plays
Nji Heulang & Ketjapi Orkest Margaloejoe



The sweet Sundanese songbird Nji Heulang is accompanied by the Ketjapi Orkest Margaloejoe with two ketjapi (kacapi) zithers, the two-headed kendang drum, the set of gongs kempul, gong and rebab, a fiddle traditionally made from half a coconut shell and played in Malaysia to heal the sick.

If someone who speaks Sundanese would like to translate the lyrics, it would be much appreciated, even if it’s just a literal translation where the poetry might be lost.

977 plays
Conjunto Musical Paria Kaka



Conjunto Musical Paria Kaka was a song and dance ensemble from the province of Huarochirí in the Cusco region of Peru. Led by Pedro Santiesteban, the group consisted of quena, tinya, pututo, harp, violin, and mandolin players along with a few dancing ladies and gentlemen. They won several awards at the national music contests in Lima where more than 50,000 people would show up in the late 1920s and early 1930s to see them and other artist troupes perform. Thanks to the massive success of these contests, the Victor Talking Machine Company recorded the winners and issued their 78s.  

The Sangarará River is sacred to the Incas and is located in the Acomayo Province of Cusco.

Si alguien de Peru puede ayudar a traducir la letra, se le agradece mucho.

653 plays
Conjunto Felipe V. Rivera



Felipe V. Rivera was born in Suipacha, Bolivia in 1896. He was a jeweler and a poet who played the guitar, the charango, the erke, the sikuri, and the quena. When he first showed up unannounced at the Buenos Aires Victor offices in 1931, he was ignored by label guys who thought his music was too Inca-sounding to sell. So he played in front of their building every morning until people started taking notice. The company agreed to record him as long as he went back home to Bolivia. When he did, his records sold so well he was invited right back to Argentina, but, believing wartime was no time to release happy music, he refused to record again until 1936, when Bolivia’s war with Paraguay was over.

Río caudaloso,

déjame pasar.

Quiero llegar a la banda

al llegar el zapallar.

Sale palomita,

bate esa bandera

como sabías batir

cuando eras moza soltera.

Por aquellas faldas,

por aquel rosal,

has hecho lo que has querido,

pero me lo has de pagar.

Another side by this group can be heard over at Jon Ward’s ever excellent

To read the entry, scroll all the way down and see Categories : Bolivia

Thanks to Remo Leaño for providing biographical information and preserving the memory of Felipe Rivera over at

427 plays



Doctor Justiniano Torres Aparicio was born in 1906 in Humahuaca, a city close to Bolivia in the northern Argentina province of Jujuy. He had the distinction of being a medical doctor, a hospital director, an art collector, the head of a soccer league, a musician who mastered many native instruments, a composer, a musicologist, and the archaeologist who in 1936 discovered in a cave 3680 meters high three of the oldest mummies ever found, one of which was Chulina, also known as “Otzi’s Andean Grandma” (Otzi is the 5200-year-old Iceman discovered in 1991 in the Alps in Italy; Chulina is 6000 years old). In the cave he also found a cloak made from vicuña hair, hatchets, pottery, pipes, ocarinas, antaras, and other flutes, all of which are housed today along with the mummies in the Museo Arqueológico Justiniano Torres Aparicio.

One year before his big discovery, the Doctor’s Conjunto Humahuaca recorded this native Bolivian air from the nearby province of Chichas with La Goyita and F. Irigoyen singing to anata flutes and caja drum accompaniment.

Esta pandilla es del norte.

Estoy contento con mi suerte.

El que te ama existe.

Consoladora de amores,

aquí me tienes presente.

1,475 plays


Evaristo Barrios was born in 1889 and was one of Argentina’s last great gaucho singers. He was a stranger in the city, sometimes bewildered and sometimes disgusted by airplanes, elevators, electric escalators, subways, vending machines, Victrolas, and the practice of tipping.  Here he insults wannabe singers and wonders where all the real ones have gone, the wandering payadores of old who would have back-to-back duels lasting hours and days on end, and in whose verses the mysteries of the world would often be made clear.

Las razas se han mixturao.

Un nuevo espíritu hicieron.

Los payadores se fueron

y así de cantar dejaron.

Las costumbres se cambiaron

de un tiempo que fue mejor

y hoy cualquier macaneador

que pa vivir larga un grito

porque acierta en un versito

ya se llamó payador.


Yo conozco payadores

que agaza saben hablar

y que se las quieren dar

muchas veces de doctores.

Dicen ser educadores

sin llegar a comprender

que es necesario saber

pa que uno pueda educar

y que el que quiera enseñar

antes tiene que aprender.


A la guitarra campera

le hizo su nota perder

cantando como mujer

un payador de galera

que pa lucir las caderas

se viste bien aguzao

y como es muy delicao

pa que al soplar el Pampero

no le haga daño en el cuero

lo lleva siempre empolvao.


Y hay cantores delicaos

que en sus cantos provincianos

me parecen italianos

que gritan amontonaos.

Ya dos o tres ha pareao

y formando así el montón

dan comienzo a la canción.

Mientras grita uno finito

el otro larga su grito

como bajo de acordeón.


Todo en la vida se acaba

y por eso del camino

se fueron Trejo, Gabino,

Cazón y Don Juan De Nava.

Es que la guadaña brava

con ellos hizo un montón

y ansina se le fue el son

que la guitarra tenía

cuando el viejo de María

la templó junto al fogón.

1,211 plays



It used to be that when a baby died in Chile, he was dressed in white, with angel wings on his back, a silver crown on his head, and a white carnation in his mouth, and laid on a table surrounded by candles and wild country flowers, paper doves swinging from strings tied to a white bedsheet spread out all above him like the cover of heaven, and a paper ladder stretched all the way down to his hands, tiny and fixed to hold on as if he was climbing, while all around him mourners drank wine, killed pigs to eat, and someone like these sisters sang this song.

Señora ya me retiro,

ya me retiro señora,

a andar ese buen camino

para adentrar a la gloria.

3,085 plays



The Panamanian tamborito is a popular song and dance with African, Spanish, and local native roots going back to the 1600s. 

Three different drums are played in the center of a circle where a singer leads her chorus and courting couples dance. The ladies wear ruffled gowns and crowns of seashells in their hair, and sing of sailing away to places near and far.

Yorelé, Yorelá

Bonito viento pa navegá.

Con esto viento que nos ahoga,

con este viento voy a Taboga.

Con este viento que sopla ahora,

con este viento voy a Pacora.

Con este viento que sopla aquí,

con este viento voy a Daví.

Con este viento voy a Madera,

con este viento voy a Chorrera.

Con este viento que el barco lame,

con este viento me voy a Chame.

Con este viento que mece proa,

con este viento voy a Balboa.

Con este viento que no me extraña,

con este viento me voy a España.

Con este viento que sopla popa,

con este viento me voy a Europa.

2,109 plays
Estudiantina Sonora Matancera



La Sonora Matancera recorded this, their fourth 78, on December 1st, 1928 during their third session, the first being in January of that incredible year that also saw the recording debuts of Frank Stokes, Georgia Tom, Tommy Johnson, John Hurt, Ramblin’ Thomas, Robert Wilkins, the Kessinger Brothers, the Roane County Ramblers, and so many other greats all around the world. For most, a session or two was all they got, but for La Sonora Matancera, it was only the beginning of a career that included over a thousand recordings and lasted until 2001, when leader Rogelio Martinez died.

Eres bella como el sol,

mujer divina y hermosa.

Fragante como las rosas

nacidas en tu vergel.

625 plays
Canario Y Su Grupo

Puerto Rico


Manuel Jiménez Otero, better known as Canario, was born in Orocovis in 1895. He was one of the first Puerto Rican singers to ever record when Pathé, Odeon, and the Rafael Castellanos label released his first sides in the mid-teens.

“In 1920, the Victor Talking Company gave me the opportunity to record Christmas music and plenas from Puerto Rico. In 1924, I started a trio in New York with a great clarinetist, Yeyo Laguna, from Manatí, and Angelito, also from there. Later I formed the Trio Borinquen. A year later, I started recording plenas for Victor, “El Obispo”, “Cuando Las Mujeres Quieren A Los Hombres”, “Santa María, “Qué Tabaco Malo”, the first ones that came out with my words and music. That contract with Victor lasted many years. I recorded close to 200 pieces and other musical genres.” - Canario, quoted in and translated from Pedro Malavet Vegas’ book De Las Bandas Al Trio Borinquen.  

Around the turn of the century, Canario remembered “a little old blind lady they dragged in a cart who sang and played maracas, and a blind man that went all around the island with a guitar covered in ribbons. His name was Quintín and he used the money he earned to help other blind men. Even the prostitutes sang their sad songs!”

Hasta aq llegamos,

alegres cantores.

Te felicitamos

trayéndote flores.

Traigo la azucena,

traigo el alhelí,

el nardo y la rosa,

todas para ti.