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Library Resource Guide for: AFRICANA STUDIES

African and Diaspora Music

The Brown University Library has strong resources for music from Africa and the African diaspora through the collections of the Orwig Music Library. In addition to collecting current recordings of African music, the Orwig Library holds the James T. Koetting Ethnomusicology Archive which contains material on world music, both published (sound recordings and videos) and unpublished (field tape recordings, photos, field notes). For further information on the Koetting Archive or for general information on music resources at Brown, consult the Library Resource Guide for Music or contact Ned Quist, the Library's music specialist.

The Library has catalogued its holdings of recorded African music in JOSIAH. You can find these by doing a "word" search for "africa sound recordings" or by searching "sound recordings" with the name of a particular country or ethnic group in which you are interested. Or try an "author" search for a recording series such as the International Library of African Music (ILAM) to get a full list of the Library's collection of recordings produced by that organization.

Another means of identifying pertinent recordings is to use the Smithsonian Global Sound database, for which a link is provided below.

Subscription Databases:

Smithsonian Global Sound  full text icon     music icon
Smithsonian Global Sound, produced in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, is a virtual encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions. The collection provides educators, students, and interested listeners with an unprecedented variety of online resources that support the creation, continuity, and preservation of diverse musical forms. This resource may be cross-searched, along with other music resources, via Music Online.

Digital Resources:

African American Sheet Music, 1820-1920
Digitized sheet music about, and by, African Americans, drawn from the holdings of the Hay Library's Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays.

James Koetting Ghana Field Recording Collection
Represents the work of ethnomusicologist James Koetting, and comprises a vibrant mix of traditional and popular music recorded at a broad range of locations and events in Ghana during the 1970s. NOTE: Sound recordings in this collection require Real Audio in order to play.

Internet Resources:

  • Addis Live: Ethiopian Music via Internet Radio
    Ten channels broadcast contemporary popular and traditional Ethiopian music, as well as interviews with the performers and related news.

  • African HipHop Project
    A project designed to use the power of hip hop to effect change for the youth of Africa.

  • African Music Archive
    Located at the University of Mainz in Germany. Publisher of NTAMA. Current projects include documentation of African music in Nigeria, Malawi and Jamaica.

  • East African Music Archive
    Part of the Global Music Archive at the Wilson Music Library of Vanderbilt University, the East African Music Archive presents streaming audio of more than 2,000 musical performances, the majority of which were recorded by musician Centurio Balikoowa, primarily from Uganda and Kenya. The archive can be browsed by artist, region, district, language, ethnic group, and musical instrument. Helpful supplementary material includes a bibliography and a checklist of Ugandan popular music.
    NOTE: Requires Real Player to stream the sound files, which vary from 45 seconds to 1 hour. Files cannot be downloaded.


  • Hidden Years Music Archive
    A database that documents suppressed elements of South Africa's popular culture during the years of Apartheid (1950 to 1994). Provides background documentation for original analog recordings owned by 3rd Ear Music Company, which can produce some reissues on demand. A few audio clips, along with histories of the performers, are mounted on the 3rd Ear website.

  • International Library of African Music
    Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, hosts this site, which continues the work of ILAM founder Hugh Tracey, with the goal of creating a searchable digital catalog of ILAM sound recordings. The site includes photographs, a discography and sound clips. NOTE:LPs in the ILAM series are available at the Orwig Music Library and have been catalogued in JOSIAH. A title list of Brown's holdings may be viewed here.

  • Ntama: Journal of African Music and Popular Culture
    Produced by the African Music Archive at the Institut fur Ethnologie und Afrikastudien (Institute for Ethnology and African Studies) at the Johannes Gutenberg - University of Mainz in Germany.

  • The African Music Encyclopedia
    Online reference for contemporary African music. The site is currently under development but contains some interesting images and basic information, a good bibliography, and many useful links.