Music without walls – world and traditional music online

From Indian ritual music to bawdy English pub songs to Ugandan court music to Nigerian Highlife, the British Library’s collections of world and traditional music are emerging from the shelves of the Sound Archive and appearing on the Archival Sound Recordings website. What’s new:

  • Traditional music in England - Ranging from rowdy pub sessions to intimate settings in exponents’ homes, this collection represents a valuable resource for the study of repertoire and performance styles and provides unique insight into the folk scene of England.
  • Music in India – Recordings of folk, devotional and ritual music from remote rural areas of India, recorded as part of a collaborative project between ethnomusicologist Rolf Killius, the Horniman Museum and the British Library.
  • Decca West Africa Recordings – Commercial recordings from the British Library’s holdings of the Decca West Africa yellow label series, issued on shellac disc between circa 1948 - 1961. The collection includes music recorded in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and possibly Togo, encompassing a wide range of popular genres of the time including Highlife, Rumba, Calypso and early Nigerian jùjú as well as some more traditional performances.
  • Peter Cook Uganda Recordings – Made between 1964 and 1997 these ethnographic field recordings of traditional, ritual and courtly music complement the collection of Klaus Wachsmann’s Uganda Recordings from the 1940s and 50s.

The Traditional Music in England collection will continue to grow over the coming months, as will the ethnographic field recordings which will eventually include material from across Africa, Asia and Central Asia. To receive updates about new collections as they become live please sign up to the Archival Sound Recordings blog RSS feed. Archival Sound Recordings is a free resource from the British Library, funded by the JISC. All material on the website is available for free to licensed UK higher and further education, and where copyright permits to the general public as well. Institution librarians can request a licence from