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World and traditional music: Central Asia

The Sound Archive's world and traditional music collections include music from Central Asia.

Collection overview

The Sound Archive holds three separate ethnographic collections of unpublished recordings from Central Asia. Published holdings include early recordings on 78rpm discs by the large international companies, Gramophone in particular, but also by the large USSR/Melodiya label, that continued production well into the LP era. Recordings on CD are primarily on western labels such as Ocora, Buda Musique and Pan Records.

Published recordings

Notable amongst our holdings of early published recordings are the 60-odd items on a range of labels (primarily Gramophone and USSR/Melodiya), donated by Tania Rose and others, of pre-1914 Caucasian and Central Asian discs. Will Prentice, an ethnomusicologist and engineer at the Sound Archive, wrote about them in International Music Connection Issue 16, 1999, and compiled a superb CD for publication in our series with Topic Records. The holdings include roughly 46 items recorded for the Gramophone Company by officers of their Tbilisi branch between 1907 and 1911 and include recordings of, for example, Chechen, Ingush, Kumyk, Kabardin, Ossetian, Georgian, Armenian and Azeri music.

Melodiya continued publishing into the LP era and our holdings of this label are fairly extensive for the Central Asian and Caucasian region. In addition western labels such as Ocora, Buda Musique and Pan Records have issued a number of more recently made ethnographic recordings that we try to obtain as they are published.

Unpublished recordings

Central Asia is the least well represented region in the World and Traditional Music Section as far as original ethnographic recordings are concerned, and what we hold concentrates on Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the recordings we have for this country are significant and substantial. They include recordings made during the 1970s by John Baily and Veronica Doubleday (C14), and by Jean Jenkins (C699) in 1974 on what was her first commissioned trip for the Music in the World of Islam festival mounted in 1976. Razia Sultanova's recordings (C890) made in the 1990s, including recordings of the Uzbek star Munidjat Yulchieva are also noteworthy.

Further information

Janet Topp Fargion
Curator, World and Traditional Music
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7427
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7441


PDF files

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