Tag: Archive of World Music (page 2 of 6)

Last Chance To See (But You Can Listen Anytime): Indigenous Siberian Fieldwork at the Loeb Music Library

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library’s Fall 2019 exhibition, Tree of Life: Cosmology and Environment in Yakutian Epic, features highlights from the Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection of the Musical Culture of Yakutia, 1957-1990. On display until Friday, January 24th are photographs and personal effects that document fieldwork in Yakutia (also known as the Sakha Republic) in the second half of the twentieth century by the ethnomusicologist Eduard Alekseyev, who was born there in 1937.

Dressed in a grey suit and holding a microphone on an extension stick, Eduard Alekseyev sits in a crowded auditorium. The date and location of this photograph are unknown.

Undated photograph of Eduard Alekseyev performing fieldwork. Image courtesy National Library of Sakha

Yakutia is located in the circumpolar region of Russia, straddling the Arctic Circle. Its capital of Yakutsk has the reputation for being the coldest city on earth. Dr. Alekseyev’s recordings of musical life in the region capture religious and cultural expressions of Sakha identity/nationhood that have survived Soviet repression, urbanization, and climate change. Also on display are musical instruments crafted in Yakutia and other locally made birchbark and metal handcrafts.

The Eduard Alekseyev Fieldwork Collection has been fully digitized and is available to stream. Among the different musical genres represented in the collection is olonkho, sacred epics sung by a narrator who differentiates between characters by alternating song and recitative. The texts traditionally describe a cosmography of lower, middle, and upper worlds, with the sacred tree, or tree of life, characteristically a larch, bridging across the layers. In the recordings, you will hear the khomus (also known as a mouth harp, jawharp, or Jew’s harp), the diungiur (shaman’s drum), and the bayan (button accordion). The collection also features musical traditions of Crimean Tatars recorded in Kiev, Ukraine. Listen here to Yegor Trofimovich Leveriev sing Siine tuhunan Toiuk (Song about the Siine River) in 1979, one of 689 freely available audio tracks in the collection.

Co-curated by Harvard graduate student Diane Oliva and Music Library staff member Christina Linklater, this exhibition marks the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, bringing special attention to indigenous language collections housed at Harvard Library.

The exhibition also details the process of preserving and digitizing sound recordings. Nineteen-sixties recording technologies relied on acetate and polyester audio tape reels and VHS PAL videocassettes: highly vulnerable for decay and breakage, these magnetic media are typically prioritized for preservation and reformatting. The original cases have been retained, which contain Alekseyev’s own annotations.

This reel case features handwritten notes by Eduard Alekseyev.

Loeb Music Library, AWM RL 16254

 

The Music Library holds several other audio and audiovisual fieldwork collections that capture musical expression around the world:

Lowell H. Lybarger Collection of Pakistani Music Materials

Stephen Blum Collection of Music from Iranian Khorāsān

Lara Boulton Collection of Byzantine and Orthodox Musics

James A. Rubin Collection of South Indian Classical Music

Marie-Thérèse, Baroness Ullens de Schooten Collection (Iran)

Kay Shelemay, Collection of Ethiopian Music

Richard Kent Wolf Collection of Fieldwork (India)

Virginia Danielson Collection of Field Recordings of Muslim Calls to Prayer

This post was contributed by Diane Oliva, a candidate for the PhD in historical musicology at Harvard University. Diane Oliva is the May-Crane Fellow of the Loeb Music Library for 2019-2020. 

Arabic 78 RPM Records Collection: A Newly-Catalogued Treasure

On the shelves of Loeb Music Library lie treasures. The 78rpm Arabic records collection is only one of many. The collection contains over 600 records belonging to the Nahḍah era (Arab renaissance) of the early twentieth century. The recordings represent voices and instruments that shaped the music scene and aesthetic taste during the period between 1910 and 1950. The collection joins another of newer Arabic LP records.

The discs feature recordings of famous performers and composers who are recognized for their distinguished contribution to Arabic music, such as vocalist Yūsuf Al-Manyalāwī (1847-1911), Sayyid Al- Ṣaftī (1875-1939) who was nicknamed the master of dawr (a form of Arabic music), Umm Kulthūm (1904-1975), and Faraj Allah Bayḍā, who established Baidaphon records company, the first of its kind in the Arab world in early twentieth century. It also features shadowed and forgotten voices such as Aḥmad afandī Al-Mīr, Naʻīm Samʻān, and many others. That era also marks the first recordings of women vocalists such as Munīrah Al-Mahdiyyah (1884-1965), ʻAliyā Al-Aṭrash, and Laure Daccāsh.

Jaddidī yā nafs ḥaẓak. I-II Gaddidi ya nafs al-Marḥūm al-Shaykh Yūsuf al-Manyalāwī (CRG 60061), AWM 78-60

One of the most important names of that period was the violinist Sāmī Al-Shawwā who introduced the violin to the traditional Arabic music ensemble (takht). Al-Shawwā performed with Yūsuf Al-Manyalāwī and Abd Al-Ḥay Hilmī whose voices were preserved on Gramophone Monarch Records and famous Baidaphon records.

Arab record companies, such as Baidaphon and Cairophon, are only a few among many other American (Columbia, Victor), European (Odeon, Orfeon), and Arab-American companies (Al-Chark, Alamphon) that recorded and released these notable Arab voices. Songs and performers from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Al-Maghrib exhibit the rich tradition of Arabic musical forms, namely the art of al-mawwāl (vocal improvisation), qaṣīdah (sung poems), muwashshaḥ (Andalusian sung poetry), ṭaqṭūqah (pop songs) and taqsīm (instrumental improvisation. Religious chants are also an important piece of the Arabic musical tradition. The collection includes Qur’anic recitation of Al-shaykh Ṭāhā Al-Fashnī and a rare record of a woman reciter Wadūdah Al-Minyalawī alongside Christian hymns of Father Gigis ʻAzīz Al-Jizzīnī.

Many items in the collections are rare and show distinctive inscription and information. What stood out the most was the first recording of plays’ songs in urban Cairo especially those performed by Salāmah Ḥijāzī (1852 – 1919). As soon as cinema was introduced to Egypt, recordings of the films’ songs were also released.

Anā mush ḥilwah by Nūr Al-Hudá (1924-1988) from the film Magd wa-dumūʻ, 1946 (Arabphon 503A), HOLLIS # 015109446

Acquired over a period of ten years, the Arabic 78 Collection joins the increasing yet still limited interest in the preservation of early Arabic music recorded heritage. Individual donations to the collection include the notable personal collection of Boston-based expressionist visual artist Kahlil George Gibran (1922-2008).

-Farah Zahra

The Archive of World Music is a special collection within the Loeb Music Library. Many of its rare and fragile recordings (other than commercial CDs, VHS tapes, and DVDs) must be reformatted for research use. Requests for in-library listening copies of recordings may be made at any time, but require one week to prepare. To make best use of your time at the Archive, please contact Peter Laurence, Curatorial Assistant in the Archive of World Music, in advance.

Browse the Arabic 78 collections in HOLLIS Classic:

 

أسطوانات جرامافون العربية: كنز يضاف إلى مجموعة مكتبة لوب للموسيقى

رفوف مكتبة لوب مرتع لكنوز فكرية وموسيقية. مجموعة أسطوانات جرامافون العربية هي واحدة فقط من بين العديد من الكنوز. تحتوي المجموعة على  أكثر من ٦٠٠ اسطوانة تعود إلى حقبة النهضة العربية في أوائل القرن العشرين، كما أنها تشمل تسجيلات  لأصوات وآلات شكلت أساساً للحياة الموسيقية والذوق الفني لفترة ما بين ١٩١٠ و١٩٥٠. تضاف هذه المجموعة إلى نظيرتها من الأسطوانات العربية الفينيل.

الأسطوانات تحفظ تسجيلات لمطربين وملحنين ذاع صيتهم بفضل مساهمتهم الموسيقية. نذكر منهم: الشيخ يوسف المنيلاوي (١٨٤٧ – ١٩١١)، سيد الصفتي (١٨٧٥ – ١٩٣٩) الذي لُقِّب بسيد الدور، أم كلثوم (١٩٠٤ – ١٩٧٥)، وفرج الله بيضا الذي أسس شركة بيضافون للإسطوانات التي تعتبر الأولى في مجالها في المنطفة العربية. كما تضم المجموعة عدداً من الأسماء اللامعة المنسية، منها: المطرب أحمد أفندي المير، المنشد نعيم سمعان وغيرهم. من أهم فناني تلك الحقبة كان الكمنجاتي سامي الشوا الذي بفضله أصبحت آلة الكمان من الآلات الرئيسية في التخت الشرقي العربي. اصطحب الشوا الشيخ يوسف المنيلاوي وعبد الحي حلمي في حفلاتهما التي سجلت على اسطوانات شركة جراموفون مونارك.

شركات الإسطوانات العربية كشركة بيضافون وكايروفون هي فقط بضع شركات إنتاج أضافت جهوداً اعتنت بتسجيل التراث الموسيقي إلى جانب شركات إنتاج أميركية (كشركة كولومبيا) وأوروبية (أودييون وأورفيون)، وعربية-أميركية (الشرق، الأهرام). مطربون ومؤلفون من مصر، سوريا، لبنان، فلسطين والعراق مثّلوا تنوع وغنى التراث الموسيقي العربي عبر فن الموال، القصيدة، الموشح، الطقطوقة والتقاسيم والإرتجال. التواشيح والتراتيل الدينية بدورها أيضاً من أهم الأشكال الموسيقية العربية.  فالمجموعة تضم تسجيلات لكبار قرّاء القرآن كالشيخ طه الفشني وتسجيل نادر لقارئة القرآن ودودة المنيلاوي صاحبة الصوت الشجي الذي تتناغم عذوبته مع تراتيل الأب جرجرس عزيز الجزيني. العديد من أسطوانات هذه المجموعة نادرة وتحتوي على أقصوصات وعلامات مميزة. أكثر ما يجذب الإهتمام هو التسجيلات الأولى لأغاني المسرح الغنائي القاهري الذي كان سلامة حجازي من رواده. كما أن بعض أغاني الأفلام الأولى حفظت على هذه الإسطوانات كأغنيات نور الهدى (١٩٢٤ – ١٩٨٨) في إطلالاتها السينمائية الأولى.

مجموعة الجرامافون العربية تنضم اليوم إلى الجهود المتزايدة المعنية بالحفاظ وتوثيق التراث العربي الموسيقي. التبرعات الفردية للمجموعة، كالتي قام بها الفنان التشكيلي اللبناني الأصل خليل جورج جبران (١٩٢٢ – ٢٠٠٨)، تبقى من أهم المصادر التي تساهم في بناء مجموعة الأسطوانات وغيرها.

فرح زهرة

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