December 2015 theme: African music archives

Spread throughout the world, archives of African music – whether recordings, sheet music or indigenous instruments – offer a vital repository of knowledge and cultural heritage. However, many of them operate relatively independently and are not always utilized or even known by the general public. In line with our goal of being the leading source of information and exchange in the African music sector, we recently carried out a special project that researched and documented archives of African music across the world. This project was done with the support of the Music Department at the Goethe-Institut’s head office in Munich, Germany.

Photo: newsroom.ucla.edu
Photo: newsroom.ucla.edu

With the aim of stimulating public interest in music archives, we commissioned numerous experts to research the subject. A dedicated ‘Archive’ section has been launched in the Music In Africa Directory, which now includes detailed profiles of over 400 African music archives around the world.  Furthermore, numerous overview texts were commissioned from archival experts, then translated and published in both English and French. These texts cover vital questions related to the archiving of African music: Who were the first to archive African music? Why should we archive music? What is the future of archiving African music? How does one set up their own music archive? What is digitization and why is it important? and what are the challenges facing African music archives today?

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