Smithsonian Folkways Completes Publication of UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music
Following a release schedule spanning 64 weeks, 84 articles by over 60 guest writers, and 127 albums encompassing 1,657 tracks of music from over 70 countries contributed by 91 producers, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has completed the release of the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music. This not only makes publicly available the highly acclaimed collection of field recordings from around the world (including twelve albums of previously unreleased material) via CD, digital download, streaming, and library subscription, but also creates a wealth of new interpretive and educational materials related to the recordings.
These materials include guest-blog posts for each weekly set of two releases that explain historical and musicological contexts alongside full-song streams. A UNESCO-themed edition of Smithsonian Folkways Magazine has also been published and features Rob Sevier’s playlist and articles on the history and ethos of field recording and ethnomusicology.
The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music was originally launched in 1961 in collaboration with Alain Daniélou and the International Music Council (created by UNESCO in 1949). Later, the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation and the International Council for Traditional Music collaborated with UNESCO as the collection grew. This partnership between UNESCO and Smithsonian Folkways to make the collection available in 2015 is all the more appropriate because it coincides with the 70th year of UNESCO’s efforts to preserve both tangible and intangible world heritage. Cécile Duvelle, UNESCO’s Chief of the Section for Intangible Cultural Heritage, notes Smithsonian Folkways’ status as “the preeminent publisher of the world’s musical heritage” in celebrating the unprecedented access that the Folkways-UNESCO partnership has brought to the collection.