The Guardian reports that the British Library revealed it has made its vast archive of world and traditional music available to everyone, free of charge, online.
That amounts to roughly 28,000 recordings and, although no one has yet sat down and formally timed it, about 2,000 hours of singing, speaking, yelling, chanting, blowing, banging, tinkling and many other verbs associated with what is a uniquely rich sound archive.
The recordings go back more than 100 years, with the earliest recordings being the wax cylinders on which British anthropologist Alfred Cort Haddon recorded Aboriginal singing on his trip to the Torres Strait islands off Australia in 1898.
What an extraordinary record and resource for current and future generations. Amazingly, much of the British archive was obtained by the library in 2000-01 in a lottery-funded project!!
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This is certainly of interest, but when I went looking for music (rather than oral history) the bulk of the material was restricted to playing in the UK only. The result is that many searches end in blind alleys, and there is no way to select this as a search criteria that I have found. Still, part of a growing number of places offering streaming resources to a wider community.
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What a shame they don’t seem available for re-mixing! Part of engaging learners in the past would be to allow them to learn about it then re-contextualise it for the present.
Dean Groom told me about students of his that were using Teen Second Life for a project on Shakespeare and ended up with a production that saw Hamlet set in the Big Brother house. I thought that was as amazing as the movie production of Romeo and Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DeCaprio and the chorus being a newscaster. But I digress (as I often do!) : )
Getting back to the British Library sound archives site, it seems wrong to me that the use of the materials is restricted to listening only on the site, no downloads, no re-mix.
When tax dollars go towards archiving materials that are a part of the fabric of a culture, surely those materials should be open to be used at least for non-commercial purposes.