Phonograph Cylinders collected by Lady Ruth Herbert Lewis

Unable to write notation or sol-ffa, Lady Herbert Lewis would certainly have been severely hindered in her work were it not for her Edison Standard Phonograph, on which all songs were recorded. The first of these revolutionary machines, which both recorded and reproduced speech, were invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. The portable 'Standard' appeared in 1898 and constituted the most popular model amongst the general public for several years. Phonographs were unfamiliar to most of the rural population of Wales, however, and not surprisingly some interviewees were rather wary of singing into such a machine and needed considerable coaxing before doing so. Once persuaded they sang into the phonograph's trumpet, which was held either close to the mouth or on one edge rested on the chin. Following the recording songs were transcribed by the young musician friend of Lady Herbert Lewis, Morfudd Llwyn Owen, who would often then perform them to her own accompaniments at recitals.

The performers and titles of the retrieved songs, as written on the cylinder boxes, are listed below.

  1. Jane Williams - i. Ffarwel i wlad; ii. O bachgen wyf (RealAudio 16.0Kbps)
  2. Jane Williams - ?
  3. Mr Roberts - Hela'r llwynog (RealAudio 16.0Kbps)
  4. R.Roberts, Smithy, Rhydyrarian - Cân llwynog
  5. Ifan Edwards, Nantglyn - Hen llanc (sic)?
  6. Miss Phillips, Castell Newydd Emlyn - Draw mi welodd
  7. Miss Phillips, Castell Newydd Emlyn - Cân yn nofio
  8. Mr George Nichols - Calls
  9. Rev. H.T. Jacob, Miss Harris; Rev. Symmonds - Y fwyalchen
  10. Male voice party - ?
  11. JHL (J.Herbert Lewis?) - Chanties (sic)
  12. ? - Mari Lwyd
An Edison 'Standard', similar to that used by Ruth Herbert Lewis
An Edison 'Standard', similar to that used by Ruth Herbert Lewis


The Sound Archives

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.