Other Organisations & Societies

The following UK Institutions are actively involved in ethnomusicological research and support:

The British Library

The British Library Sound Archive holds over a million discs, 185,000 tapes, and many other sound and video recordings. The collections come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound from music, drama and literature, to oral history and wildlife sounds. They range from cylinders made in the late 19th century to the latest CD, DVD and minidisk recordings. There are copies of commercial recordings issued in the United Kingdom, together with selected commercial recordings from overseas, radio broadcasts and many privately-made recordings. The catalogue includes entries for almost two-and-a-half million recordings held in the Sound Archive and is updated daily. It is one of the largest catalogues of its kind anywhere in the world, covering both published and unpublished recordings.

There are seven main subject areas within the Archive, headed by curators who are able to offer specialist advice and assistance: Classical Music; Drama and Literature; Jazz; Oral History; Popular Music; Wildlife Sound; World and Traditional Music. The World and Traditional Music Section holds one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or 'world' music. It encompasses most musical traditions of the world with published and unpublished recorded performances dating from the infancy of sound recording to the present day. The work of the section supports the discipline of ethnomusicology, broadly defined as the study of people making music, and encompassing the study of all music, including popular musics. The collection therefore contains music of most of the world's major religions, work songs, wedding and funeral music, accompanied songs and instrumental music, as well as popular styles based on folk traditions. It is an essential reference collection for students and scholars, for the media, and for musicians of all backgrounds.

See also November 2009 News Item on Music Without Walls: World and Traditional Music Online.

The Horniman Museum: Musical Instruments Section

Music making around the world is represented by the Horniman Museum's collection of musical instruments, one of the most comprehensive in the UK. The museum has over 7,000 objects made to produce sound. The oldest instrument is a pair of bone clappers in the form of human hands made in Egypt around 1,500 BC. Electric guitars and synthesizers dating from the 1990s are among the most recent acquisitions. The museums Music Gallery houses over 1,500 instruments, together with fieldwork videos, sound recordings, and instruments for visitors to play themselves. The museum aims to acquire sound and video recordings with the documentation for each new instrument. Recent collections of instruments commissioned from makers in Belarus and Uzbekistan, and the newest collections associated with traditional music in India, are supported by a rich archive of such recordings.

The Horniman Library

The Horniman Library holds over 2,500 written sources on music and musical traditions. These include both books, many of them foreign language items and periodicals. It also houses important publications on anthropology and natural history. The Library catalogue is available on-line via the Horniman website. The Horniman Library is a reference Library, photcopying facilities are available there. The Library is currently closed for re-development. The Library will be re-opening in a new building with improved reading space from 5 July 2005, where it can be accessed without a prior appointment. The hours of the Library will be 10.30 to 5.30pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays and 2.00 to 5.30pm.on Sundays. It will be closed on Mondays and Bank Holidays. To consult the catalogue online visit this website.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

The displays of musical instruments in the Music Makers Gallery are open to the public by appointment. This collection is housed at 60 Banbury Road, Oxford in a different location from the main building of the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Museum's reserve collections of musical instruments are also housed at the Centre. For research enquiries on the musical instrument collections please e-mail the Curator of Music, noel.lobleyatprm.ox.ac.uk (Dr Noel Lobley). Visit also the current project blog of "Reel to Real", a project designed to digitise and deliver the museum's unique ethnographic sound recordings.

Other Societies

Please follow the links below to other ethnomusicology societies: