The British Library’s Directory of UK Sound Collections is one of the first steps in our Save our Sounds programme launched on 12th January 2015 as one of the key strands of Living Knowledge, the British Library’s new vision and purpose for its future.
The purpose of the directory project is to collect information about our recorded heritage, to create a directory of sound collections in the UK. By telling us what you have, we can help plan for their preservation, for future generations.
Our aim is to be comprehensive; to search out sounds that exist in libraries, archives, museums, galleries, schools and colleges, charities, societies, businesses and in your homes. And we’re not just interested in large collections: a single item might be just as important as a whole archive.
So far we have collected information about almost 200 collections amounting to roughly 250,000 items across a range of formats and subjects: oral history; wildlife, mechanical and environmental sounds; drama and literature; language and dialect; radio and popular, classical, jazz and world and traditional music.
A summary list of music collections includes:
- Mozart GLASS Collection: former Greater London Audio Specialisation Scheme (GLASS Collection retained by Westminster Music Library
- Some commercial music recordings included alongside collection of music scores and news cuttings relating to the life and career of Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)
- A large collection of communist period vinyl records from Romania, and smaller collections from Bulgaria, Ex-Yugoslavia and Hungary
- Recordings made by many contributors of traditional song, music and drama; dialect speech; calendar customs; cultural traditions; children's games and songs (University of Sheffield Library)
- Sound recordings made by ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins in Africa, India and the Middle East
- Recordings of songs by Plymouth artists (with paper transcripts) and photographs of Union Street Project, Plymouth
- The Erich Wolfgang Korngold Archive: Interviews, archival performances, acetates, 78rpm discs, broadcast tapes, private recordings, vinyl and CDs covering the life and work of composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
- organ and morning service recordings from St Andrew's, Plymouth
- gramophone records of Princess Elizabeth's visit to Plymouth, recorded by RGA Sound Services, 21 Cobourg St, Plymouth
- 2 troubadour and 10 trouvère songs sung by Francesco Carapezza; 13 troubadour songs in spoken performance by Gérard Gouiran, from the University of Warwick
- Music on LP and some wax cylinders, from Brent Museum and Archives
- A comprehensive, primarily classical, recorded music collection from Exeter Library
- Scottish Music Centre: Recordings of music by Scottish composers and performers (and associated spoken-word material), mostly dating from late 1960s to present. Over 12,000 items of which over 11,000 catalogued online (as at January 2015)
- 3,000 commercial recordings from the 78rpm shellac era, including some rarities and radio transcriptions (Radio Luxemburg, ENSA, BBC), as well as unusual/rare labels of non-jazz content
- 12,000 UK 78rpm records, 1920-1945, concentrating on British Dance Bands & personalities of the period
- 100 shellac discs of early jazz recordings
- Evensong half hour, recorded at Hunstanton parish church and broadcast by the BBC on 19th August 1951
- Cassettes of church organ accompanied by a choir boy
- Private recordings made on open reel tape of classical music performances
- Recordings of Scottish, English, Irish and other folk musicians, made mostly in Edinburgh from the late 1960s to mid-1970s
- Recordings of the Broughton Tin Can Band and Winster Guisers
- Private folk music recordings made on open reel tape
- Music by Derbyshire musicians.
Although this is a good selection across the musical genres, we feel there are many, many more music collections out there.
The census is live now and will run until the end of March 2015. You can read more about the project, and send us information about your collections here: www.bl.uk/projects/uk-sound-directory.
You can follow the British Library Sound Archive on Twitter via @soundarchive and tag with #SaveOurSounds