Let The Henebry Wax Cylinders Ring Out

A look into the next exhibition to feature in the Boole Library.


The backstory:

We are a group of first year BAMUS students studying in University College Cork, in UCC’s music department on Sunday’s Well road. The music department in UCC offers a wide variety of unique and interesting modules and facilities, including a Gamelan ensemble, a World Music module and practise rooms containing a variety of instruments including pianos and harpsichords etc.

The UCC Music Department holds a weekly FUAIM concert on the main campus of UCC. These are concerts exploring different music genres and highlighting performers linked to UCC and Ireland generally. They also give opportunity to UCC Music staff, graduates and students. These concerts are held on a Friday lunchtime on the main campus of UCC and are open to the general public as well as UCC students.

As part of our course, we are also given the opportunity to participate in a music ensemble of our choice. These include ensembles of many different genres and styles including Irish traditional, popular, jazz, early music and chamber music. This enables UCC students to display their talents in different areas. Each ensemble performs at the end of the year and is graded on this performance and their progress throughout the year.


The Henebry Wax Cylinders:

One of the earliest forms of music recording, they are hollowed out cylinders made from wax which, similar to vinyl, have music engraved into them, dating back to the late nineteen hundreds. These cylinders are played through an Edson wax cylinder phonograph. These phonographs were mainly used during the years 1896 to 1915. Before the wax cylinders were created, people used paper, tape and tinfoil to listen to music through a suitable phonograph for the material.

Over time, the type of wax used in the creation of these cylinders was improved and hardened so they could be played with better quality over 100 times. However, by the time these cylinders had been improved, it was too late for them to reclaim previous popularity: new materials and methods of playing and recording music had been produced and widely marketed.

A sample of these cylinders is held in the Special Collections section of UCC’s Boole library, one of the most extensive facilities on  campus. It is a rare gem that houses many unique artefacts including the Henebery wax cylinders, Sean O’Riada manuscripts, Thomas Moore scores etc. These items are stored in a room with a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and must be handled with great care. The members of staff who run the Special Collections are very proud and dedicated to their work.

Exhibitions are regularly held in the main entrance of the Boole library.

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