Skip to main content

Music Partners

Creating a network of music archives and research partners

Regional archives around the world conserve valuable collections of world music. Smithsonian Folkways links these institutions in an Internet-based exchange, making their holdings available to a global audience. Initially, Smithsonian Folkways established cooperative agreements with the International Library of African Music (ILAM), founded in 1954 and one of the greatest repositories of African music in the world, and the Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE) in New Delhi, India, established in 1982 to collate, centralize, and preserve collections of Indian music and oral traditions. Folkways plans to extend its offerings through cooperative agreements with other archives of folk, traditional, and classical music. To deliver the highest-quality audio available, Smithsonian Folkways helps partner-archives to acquire computerized digital recording and processing equipment and supports technical training in its use. Negotiations are underway with additional archives and organizations around the world for inclusion in and partnership with Smithsonian Folkways.

If you are an archive or collection interested in becoming one of our partners, please email

Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) implements cultural initiatives aimed at revitalising the heritage of Islamic communities and contributing to their social and economic development. Its programmes include: the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which recognises outstanding examples of contemporary design and promotes the conservation of Islamic architecture's urban heritage; the Historic Cities Support Programme, which undertakes the conservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and urban spaces in ways that act as catalysts for social, economic and cultural development; the Humanities Project, which is developing a core, introductory humanities curriculum based on the cultural traditions of the region for use in universities in Central Asia; the Music Initiative in Central Asia, which works to preserve and promote the musical traditions of the region; the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, an endowed centre of excellence in the history, theory and practice of Islamic architecture based at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;, which aims to become the most comprehensive archive of materials on architecture, urban design, urban development and related issues of concern to the Muslim world; and the Museums Project, which is creating the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and the Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Zanzibar.

Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE)

ARCE is one of the most extensive audiovisual repositories of the oral traditions and performing arts of India. Housed in a state-of-the-art facility in New Delhi, it functions as a branch of the American Institute of Indian Studies of the University of Chicago, and is a member of a consortium of 52 major U.S. universities.

Established in 1982, ARCE serves as a repository for research tapes from South Asian and Western scholars. It collects commercial recordings and copies of recordings from collectors' private holdings. Drawn from 154 collections, these recordings range from classical music to folk and popular genres. Materials deposited in ARCE are cataloged and made accessible to interested scholars and institutions. Global Sound offers the first opportunity for many of these recordings to be distributed around the world.

Among ARCE's publications are the ARCE Newsletter; a volume entitled Texts, Tones and Tunes: A Multicultural Perspective; and The Music of Bharat Natyam, by Jon Higgins. ARCE also carries out research projects, such as the Ethnographic Atlas of Musical Traditions in Western Rajasthan, undertaken with the Rupayan Sansthan (Rajasthan Institute of Folklore), in Jodhpur. Dr. Shubha Chaudhuri, the director of ARCE, is chief coordinator of the Archives Resource Community (ARC), a network of 13 audiovisual archives in India.

International Library of African Music (ILAM)

Founded in 1954 by Hugh Tracey, ILAM is the greatest repository of African music in the world. A research institution devoted to the study of music and oral arts in Africa, it preserves thousands of historical recordings going back to 1929 and supports contemporary fieldwork. It is currently digitizing its collections. Its journal, African Music, is nearly into its fourth decade.

ILAM aims to discover, record, analyze, and archive the music of sub-Saharan Africa, with the object of establishing a theory of musicmaking in Africa and assessing the social, cultural, and artistic values of African music. It is a subdivision of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the Rhodes University campus in Grahamstown, South Africa.