Loeb Music Library

Archive of World Music Collection


Overview

The Archive of World Music, a collection of the Loeb Music Library, was established in 1976 by Professor John Ward and in 1992, with the appointment of Kay Kaufman Shelemay as Harvard's first senior professor of ethnomusicology, moved to the Loeb Music Library to become one of its special collections. It is devoted to the acquisition of archival field recordings of musics world-wide as well as to commercial sound recordings, videos, and DVDs of ethnomusicological interest.

The Archive quickly attracted major collections including the James Rubin Collection of Indian Classical Music (probably the largest collection of Indian classical music in the U.S.), the Kay Kaufman Shelemay Collection of Ethiopic Musics, the Sema Vakf Collection of Turkish Classical Music (probably the largest outside of Turkey), the Laura Boulton Collection of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox Chant, the Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection of the Musical Cultural of Yakutia, the Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān, and the Rubén Blades Archive. Collection development has focused primarily on the Middle East, Asia (broadly understood), and Africa.

Whereas the content of the Archive continues to develop with a special emphasis on Asia and the Middle East, it is currently in the position to further develop the collection with recordings from Mexico, Central and South America, as well as from all around the globe.

Substantial grant funding from the Laura Boulton Foundation, the Sema Vakf Foundation, and the Harvard University Library Digital Initiative has provided funds for preservation and access to the Archive's collections and for building substantial infrastructure to support long-term digital preservation.

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Access

The Archive of World Music is a closed-stack, non-circulating teaching and archival collection for in-house use, accessible to patrons with a Harvard ID. Requests for recordings by qualified researchers and scholars may be made at any time, but one week is required for preparation of materials. In order to preserve fragile and rare recordings, user copies must be made of formats other than commercial CDs, VHS tapes, and DVDs. Visiting researchers are asked to submit requests in advance of their visit in order to make the best use of their time at the Archive.

Materials in the Archive are cataloged in HOLLIS, and are subject-searchable by country, by keyword, or by author/title searches. Finding aids to special collections in the Archive are available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System.

For further information, please e-mail Sarah Adams, Acting Curator of the Archive of World Music, or e-mail Peter Laurence, Senior Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music.

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Collections

The Archive has developed important collections from Asia and the Middle East, and it holds very diverse archival material: wide-ranging Chinese songs acquired by Harvard Professor Emeritus Rulan Pian, extensive field recordings from the 1980s by Martha Forsyth of traditional Bulgarian songs, field recordings of Tvisöngur (male polyphony in Iceland), and !Kung field recordings, among others. Numerous recordings of Indonesian music have been acquired, primarily on commercial sound cassettes.

The Archive has a growing collection of recordings from the Middle East, including the Sema Vakf Collection of Turkish Classical Music, and a substantial number of recordings from the Arab world. The James A. Rubin Collection of South Indian Classical Music, more than 2,000 hours of recordings, features some of the finest musicians of the 20th century. The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection of the Musical Culture of Yakutia is a unique collection of field recordings made in various regions in Russia, representing the musical culture of the Yakut (Sakha), Crimean Tartar, and Ukrainian peoples.

The Archive also houses much of the sound recordings content (with the exception of some film soundtracks) of the Baroness Marie-Thérèse Ullens de Schooten Archive. A unique collection, its primarily visual content resides at the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard's Fine Arts Library. Baroness Ullens spent several months every year between 1951 and 1972 in Iran, documenting the Qashqa'i and the Bakhtiari peoples, as well as the Kurds and Türkmen, and Sufi dervishes in photography, film, and sound recordings. The recordings herein range from live recordings to radio recordings of the time. A finding aid to the Baroness Marie-Thérèse Ullens de Schooten Archive is available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System.

The Archive is also home to the Laura Boulton Collection of Byzantine and Orthodox Musics. Comprised of sound recordings, accompanying documentation, and numerous ancillary materials, the collection represents Boulton's field work throughout the Eastern Orthodox world during the 1950s and 1960s, much of which was undertaken jointly with Harvard's Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. The collection includes related Armenian, Russian, Coptic, and Ethiopian music materials as well.

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The Sema Vakf Collection of Turkish Classical Music

The Sema Vakf Collection may be the largest collection of Turkish music in the world. It consists of more than 1,000 audio and video field and commercial recordings, more than 9,000 written musical notations, 300 books and dissertations, and musical instruments collected by the Turkish-American connoisseur of Ottoman classical music Altan Güzey.

The collection includes the entire private archive of Ismâil Baha Sürelsan, a Turkish composer and ethnomusicologist who has devoted more than 60 years to performing Turkish classical music. Among the other treasures of the collection are recordings of the singer Allâeddin Yavaşça's mesk, musical lessons held on Sunday afternoons at his home once a month. Some of Yavaşça's own transcriptions of musical works form part of the collection. There are numerous performances by such accomplished artists as Meral Uğurlu, Mes'ûd Cemil, Bekir Sitki, Reha Sağbaş, and Selmâ Sağbaş.

This vakf, or trust, is named for the art of listening (sema), specifically the engaged listening of the connoisseur to wonderful music. Altan Güzey established it for the preservation and perpetuation of classical Turkish music, particularly repertories of court music composed before 1850. The vakf maintains the archive and also supports musical performances and commissioned recordings of Turkish classical music. Its mission is to make musical resources available to scholars and performers interested in the subject. The collection has now been transferred to Harvard and the University currently has more than 600 items.

The Sema Vakf Collection is searchable in the HOLLIS catalog. To see the entire collection, search for author sema vakf collection.

Alternatively, keyword searches by names of performers or performers, first lines of songs or makams will produce more specific results, for instance: search by keyword: uğurlu hicaz.

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Laura Boulton Collection

The Archive is home to the Laura Boulton Collection of Byzantine and Orthodox Musics. Comprised of sound recordings, accompanying documentation, and numerous ancillary materials, the Collection represents Boulton's field work throughout the Eastern Orthodox world during the 1950s and 1960s, much of which was undertaken jointly with Harvard's Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. The Collection includes related Armenian, Russian, Coptic, and Ethiopian music materials as well.

A finding aid to the Laura Boulton Collection is available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System.

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The James A. Rubin Collection of South Indian Classical Music

The James A. Rubin Collection consists of almost 1,000 tapes, 400 78 rpm records, more than 20 program books, several other books about Indian music, and 30 spiral-bound notebooks detailing the performances Rubin recorded in India.

The core of the Rubin collection is a set of almost four hundred reels of tape that Rubin recorded on 18 trips to South India between 1964 and 1987. Rubin was a student of the famous singer M.S. Subbulakshmi and as such was in a unique position to record concerts at such prestigious venues as the Madras Music Academy and the Tyagaraja Aradhana festival in Tiruvayaru, Tamil Nadu. He also recorded performances at other concert halls, many private recitals at the artists' homes, and classical music programs broadcast on All India Radio.

Rubin recorded many concerts of Indian music in the Boston area. In 1966 the Pan Orient Arts Foundation arranged a national tour by M.S. Subbulakshmi, and Rubin was able to record every performance in cities across America. Rubin also included recordings sent to him by friends and colleagues. The music in this collection includes renditions of more than 1,000 compositions, both rare and popular, by more than 600 musicians. As such, it is probably the most comprehensive and significant source of Carnatic music recordings in the world today. This collection will add to the more than 100 recordings of Indian music already in the Archive of World Music.

Under the auspices of the Library Digital Initiative, this collection is being made available to scholars and lovers of Indian music. The tapes will be copied in an archival digital format for permanent storage. A finding aid to the James Rubin Collection, containing a complete catalog of all original performances in the collection, is available is OASIS. This document links to visual images of Rubin's field notes and other concert programs. In cases where Harvard University has the artists' permission, audio files of the performances will be available on the Internet.

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The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection of the Musical Culture of Yakutia, 1969-1990

The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection contains audio and video of traditional religious and ritual cultural expressions of the Sakha (Yakut) people from the Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation, formerly known as the Yakut ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). Sakha (Yakutia), is the largest sub-national entity in the world, and is a circumpolar region, half of which lies above the Arctic Circle. The majority of the recordings were created in a fieldwork setting, but some were made during concerts, and at festival events of Ukrainian people in Kiev, and of Crimean Tatars in Simferopol. Included are various types of rites, such as shamanistic ceremonies of purification and epic songs that precede hunting or fishing. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Soviet policy suppressed publications about the rituals of indigenous cultures. For that reason, the recordings within this collection are particularly valuable.

A finding aid to The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection is available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System. The reel-to-reel tapes from the collection have been digitized, and audio files of the recordings are available through the finding aid.

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The Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān at Harvard University: original ethnographic sound recordings, 1968-2006

The Stephen Blum Collection contains audio from ethnomusicological fieldwork conducted in the northern part of Iranian Khorāsān. Included are about 50 hours of field recordings made in 1968-1969 and 1972, with an emphasis on sung poetry in three languages – Persian (Farsi), Khorasani Turkish (Torki), and Kurmanji Kurdish. Musical genres most prevalent in the collection include dastgāh - the modal building blocks of Persian art music - and both lyric songs (including chārbeiti, ghazal, and gharibi) and narrative pieces (naqqāli, dāstān, pandiyāt and others), performed as solos or with instrumental accompaniment. Frequently referenced poetic works include the Shāhnāmah of Firdawsī, Sabz parī va Zard parī, and Chahārdah afsānah az afsānahhā-yi rūstāʾī-i Īrān.

The performers in this collection are the subjects of Blum's Ph.D. dissertation, "Musics in Contact: The Cultivation of Oral Repertoires in Meshhed, Iran." After completing his dissertation fieldwork in the summer of 1969, Professor Blum taught first at Western Illinois University (1969-73) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1973-77). From 1977 to 1987 he was the founding director of an M.F.A. program in "Musicology of Contemporary Cultures” at York University in Toronto. Since 1987, he has taught at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, where he initiated a concentration in ethnomusicology.

Following the Revolution of 1979, Dr.  Blum was unable to return to Iran until 1995, when he donated copies of his earlier recordings to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and made additional recordings in Khorāsān as well as in the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran. He began to make more frequent visits in 2006, and remains in close contact with Iranian students and colleagues. Recordings from these visits consist largely of conversations, with occasional performances. The collection also includes notebooks and printed collections of verses intended for singing, along with a street guide to the city of Mashhad.

A finding aid to The Stephen Blum Collection is available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System. The reel-to-reel tapes from the collection have been digitized, and audio files of the recordings are available through the finding aid.

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The Rubén Blades Archives at Harvard University

Rubén Blades is an internationally prominent and popular musician, actor and politician, who has won numerous Grammy Awards and many other awards for his Latin pop and salsa recordings. He played a key role in the salsa music scene in New York in the 1970s, an influential period of burgeoning popularity for this musical and dance style. Blades graduated from Harvard University Law School in 1985 with a Masters degree in International Law.

The predominant musical style represented in the collection is salsa, a Latin musical style that incorporates traditional and popular song forms that have originated in countries such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama and the United States, to name a few. Elements of jazz and rock are also frequently included in salsa music. One of Blades' notable musical distinctions has been and continues to be his collaborations across genres with all types of musicians, including work in musical theater forms. Blades is also known for incorporating socio-cultural and political commentary within salsa and Latin popular music.

The collection contains periodicals and articles from the Latin American and the United States press about Blades' own music and popular Latin music in general, as well as ephemera, newspaper clippings, correspondence and campaign materials from Blades' bid for the office of the President of Panama in 1994. The bulk of the privately produced recordings are live concerts, television broadcasts and interviews.

A finding aid to The Rubén Blades Archives at Harvard University is available in OASIS, Harvard's Online Archival Search Information System. The commercially published sound discs and books that are part of the collection have been individually cataloged and are not listed in this finding aid. These may be found by searching the Hollis catalog for Rubén Blades Archives.

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