Global Music Archive now “live” on the Internet
The Global Music Archive recently launched its first database, the Digital Collection of East African Recordings, consisting of over 2,000 discrete musical performances recorded by Centurio Balikoowa, a musician from Uganda. Co-curators, Holling Smith-Borne, director of the Wilson Music Library, and Gregory F. Barz, associate professor of musicology (ethnomusicology) at Blair, are pleased to provide free access to this digital library of field recordings from Uganda, completed after a peer-review process that included other archivists, librarians and curators from around the world. The sound recordings, which vary in length from five minutes to over an hour, can be streamed directly to a listener’s computer using the RealPlayer application.
Smith-Borne visited Uganda for two weeks this summer to collaborate with Balikoowa, the chief recordist for the archive, while continuing to collect field recordings and witnessing the recording process first-hand.
“We traveled to rural parts of Uganda where musicians welcomed us and shared their music and dance. The recording session would start early in the morning with one ensemble, then the word would get passed on to other musicians in the community, and several ensembles would want us to record them. It was amazing how quickly the recording session became a community event. Most performances took place outdoors where children would gather around us to hear the music and then ‘take over’ the instruments once the adults had finished.”
During the visit, Smith-Borne met with faculty and administrators at Makerere University as well as the minister of culture and the director of the National Theatre in Uganda in hopes of creating a partnership with Makerere University that would provide training for the project, so that the staff and faculty there can make local contributions to the archive without first sending the materials to Blair.
In late July, Steven Nordstrom, music cataloger for the Wilson Music Library and metadata specialist for the archive, gave a presentation to the International Association of Music Libraries in Naples, Italy, getting the word out to librarians and archivists worldwide that this is a model for collecting and providing access to indigenous music.
To learn more, go to www.globalmusicarchive.org.