Survey of endangered audio material still available with private collectors in India

Audio recordings and replays detailing folk, classical and popular music and recordings of speeches are becoming impossible to access as the replaying equipment is increasingly unavailable. A survey of private collections will ensure scholars can access and study the audio culture and history of India.

Private collectors in India hold a wealth of sound recordings in the forms of wax cylinders, shellac and gramophone discs, vinyl discs, spool tapes and audio cassettes. Traditional formats of audio recordings and replay are becoming obsolete and are lying shelved with private collectors due to neglect and non-availability of playback devices to them. Material represents audio culture and history of various regions of India, both in vocal and instrumental music form. It covers many important styles, types and genre in classical, popular and folk music including spoken word, and shall form major source of reference for scholars and researchers.

The material is held in private collections, which are not accessible by scholars. They do not have the knowledge to preserve the material, or the awareness of its value. After the death of the collector, it is likely that the collection will be discarded.

The project was a pilot survey project that investigated the existence of these collections in 50 cities and towns in India. The project located 21 collectors in Maharashtra, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and four private museums in Jaipur, Indore, Kottayam & Wayanad. The project hopes to undertake a major digitisation project in the coming years.

Project Details

Location: India, Southern Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Independent Researcher Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £8,000 Commencement Date: 07/2017 Project Status: Completed
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