British Library Sounds

The Sound and Moving Image Collections at the British Library (formerly the British Library Sound Archive) hold over 3.5 million audio recordings, including one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or 'world' music.  To make some of these recordings more accessible, British Library Sounds was created. 

British Library Sounds presents 50,000 recordings and their associated documentation from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings.  These recordings come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds.  Music collections include classical music, jazz & popular music, sound recording history, and world & traditional music.

As ethnomusicologists, I would encourage you to look at British Library Sounds Ethnical and Permitted Use of Recordings statement.  Ethnomusicologist Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator of World and Traditional Music at the British Library, worked with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to ensure both legal and ethical use was made of the ethnographic sound recordings.

Check out the Music in the British Library Blog for updates about British Library Sounds.  For example...

Kalarahi San [Bushmen] music online

British and Irish traditional music online

Cataloguing and Processing the Ethnographic Wax Cylinder Collection

International Folk Music Film Festival in Nepal

Music research archives in India

World and Traditional Music collections on YouTube

To learn more about the Sound and Moving Collections at the British Library, see my recent interview with Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator, World and Traditional Music; Andy Linehan, Curator, Popular Music; and Jonathan Summers, Curator, Classical Music.


Arnold Adriaan Bake collection, Indra Jaatra Festival Kathmandu, 1931

Arnold Adriaan Bake, Newar musicians, Nepal 1955-1956





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