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UNESCO

Collection by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

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The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music, a pioneering effort to make the world’s musical heritage more widely known and appreciated, takes on new life starting April 29 with the release of more than 100 albums, including 12 previously unreleased recordings, spanning more than 70 nations. Two albums will be released each week for more than a year, and will be available on CD, digital download, streaming services, and by library subscription.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Viet Nam: Traditions of the South Thing 1 Thing 2, Reggae, Vietnam, Musicals, Songs, Traditional, Prayers, Walmart, Southern

Viet Nam: Traditions of the South

This recording, compiled and annotated by Vietnamese musicologist Trần Văn Khê, collects two styles of music from the southern region of Vietnam (defined in the liner notes as the area between the 12th parallel and the country’s southern tip at Pointe de Cà Mau). The inclusion of both formal ritual and religious music, including prayers and a spirit possession song, and secular or “entertainment” music, which allows for improvisation, creates a great sonic variety.

This 1972 recording features Korean court music, or hyang-ak, which was codified in the 5th century. Hyang-ak is essentially pentatonic and is derived from a type of sung poetry. Vocal performances are accompanied by a variety of Korean string, wind, and percussion instruments. Percussion, Musicals, Instruments, Poetry, Korean, Album, Type, Movie Posters, Korean Language

Korea

This 1972 recording features Korean court music, or hyang-ak, which was codified in the 5th century. Hyang-ak is essentially pentatonic and is derived from a type of sung poetry. Vocal performances are accompanied by a variety of Korean string, wind, and percussion instruments.

Noted musicologist Alain Daniélou observes that the classical Indian raga is a meditation on the states of the soul. “For this reason,” he writes in this album’s liner notes, “the development of a raga by an Indian master musician is not something to be analyzed but a means by which the artist and his listeners should let themselves be lifted up towards the highest realms of thought.” This collection presents four ragas performed by master Indian musicians on traditional instruments. Hindustani Classical Music, Music Albums, Meditation Music, Musicians, Instruments, Presents, Notes, Indian, Writing

North India: Instrumental Music - Rudra Veena, Vichitra Veena, Sarod, Shahnai

Noted musicologist Alain Daniélou observes that the classical Indian raga is a meditation on the states of the soul. “For this reason,” he writes in this album’s liner notes, “the development of a raga by an Indian master musician is not something to be analyzed but a means by which the artist and his listeners should let themselves be lifted up towards the highest realms of thought.” This collection presents four ragas performed by master Indian musicians on traditional instruments.

The classical music of North India (Hindustani music) has roots in Persian Musiqi-e assil folk music, Sufi songs, Vedic chants, and the region’s own folk traditions. Although it is primarily a vocal-based music, the classical Hindustani music on this album is played on a variety of traditional instruments. The tracks in this collection present three different ragas. Sufi Songs, North India, Folk Music, Classical Music, Persian, Roots, Music Instruments, Album, Movie Posters

North India: Instrumental Music - Sitar, Flute, Sarangi

The classical music of North India (Hindustani music) has roots in Persian Musiqi-e assil folk music, Sufi songs, Vedic chants, and the region’s own folk traditions. Although it is primarily a vocal-based music, the classical Hindustani music on this album is played on a variety of traditional instruments. The tracks in this collection present three different ragas.

Tajik Music of Badakhshan Central Asia, Homeland, Afghanistan, Musicals, Faith, Album, Preserve, Traditional, Cover

Tajik Music of Badakhshan

The traditional homelands of the Tajik people cover parts of modern-day Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. The Tajiks of the Badakhshân region of northeast Afghanistan and southwestern Tajikistan are Ismaili Muslims, and their particular religious faith has helped preserve their highly original musical forms.

‎Azerbaijan: Azerbaijani Mugam (UNESCO Collection from Smithsonian Folkways) by Bahram Mansurov Songs, How To Plan, Durga, Abundance, Albums, Style, Traditional, Music, World

Azerbaijan: Azerbaijani Mugam

This recording features Bahram Mansurov performing on the Azerbaijan tar, an 11-string lute. According to liner notes by Alain Daniélou, Mansurov is “unrivaled for his talent of creation and improvisation in the pure style of the traditional music of Azerbaijan.”

Ritual Chant and Music is a compilation of recordings from across the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music. Representing cultures from around the globe, the album includes funeral rites, harvest celebrations, and religious ceremonies. Religious Ceremony, Song Play, Funeral, Harvest, Celebrations, Globe, Album, Songs, Traditional

Ritual Chant and Music

Ritual Chant and Music is a compilation of recordings from across the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music. Representing cultures from around the globe, the album includes funeral rites, harvest celebrations, and religious ceremonies.

Nepal: Ritual and Entertainment Rhythmic Pattern, Religious Ceremony, Nepal, Calendar, Entertainment, Events, Seasons, Dance, Album

Nepal: Ritual and Entertainment

Nepalese music is used in ritual and entertainment to signify events in the lunar calendar, the seasons, and agricultural cycles. While the music for dance repeats melodic and rhythmic patterns, the music for religious ceremonies often features free-flowing, improvised melodies.

Folk Music of Cuba Folk Music, Percussion, Cuba, 1980s, Caribbean, Musicals, Instruments, Guitar, Presents

Folk Music of Cuba

The folk music of Cuba combines Hispanic stringed instruments like guitar and tres (a guitar-like instrument with six strings, paired in octaves like an American twelve-string guitar) with African percussion instruments, seasoned with a hint of Caribbean flavor. The result is a rich blend of song styles and dance rhythms. This collection, recorded during the 1980s, presents an array of music from across the island performed by both urban and rural ensembles.

Croatia’s traditional music of today is the focus of this 1988 UNESCO release. In the liner notes, Svanibor Pettan, Secretary General of the International Council for Traditional Music, sheds light on the Croatian tradition’s contemporary evolution. Naive Art, Croatia, Evolution, Traditional, Secretary, Sheds, Illustration, Music, Notes

Croatia: Traditional Music of Today

Croatia’s traditional music of today is the focus of this 1988 UNESCO release. In the liner notes, Svanibor Pettan, Secretary General of the International Council for Traditional Music, sheds light on the Croatian tradition’s contemporary evolution.

This compilation of recordings by ethnomusicologist Habib Hassan Touma features various musical genres from Basra Province and Baghdad that provide a glimpse into the varied iqa’at (rhythmic forms) in traditional Iraqi music. Baghdad, Various Artists, Classical Music, Musicals, Songs, Collection, Regional, Drum, Dance

Iraq: Iqa’at - Traditional Rhythmic Structure

This compilation of recordings by ethnomusicologist Habib Hassan Touma features various musical genres from Basra Province and Baghdad that provide a glimpse into the varied iqa’at (rhythmic forms) in traditional Iraqi music.

Among the tracks presented here are two extended performances of taqâsim and layālī in the same mode, selected to provide listeners an opportunity to compare the instrumental and vocal styles of improvisation.  The principal instruments employed in Egypt are the zither-like qanun, the oud, or lute (the word “lute” comes from the Arabic “al- 'ud”), and the nay, a vertical flute without a mouthpiece. All of them may be heard here. Instrumental, Cairo, Flute, Egypt, Opportunity, Musicals, Album, Songs, Travel

Egypt: Taqâsîm & Layâlî - Cairo Tradition

Among the tracks presented here are two extended performances of taqâsim and layālī in the same mode, selected to provide listeners an opportunity to compare the instrumental and vocal styles of improvisation. The principal instruments employed in Egypt are the zither-like qanun, the oud, or lute (the word “lute” comes from the Arabic “al- 'ud”), and the nay, a vertical flute without a mouthpiece. All of them may be heard here.

The music of Burma (officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) is characterized by two types of music: chamber music played solo on instruments such as the Burmese harp, and orchestra music played primarily on percussion instruments. Laos Thailand, Jazz Art, Mandalay, Types Of Music, Burmese, The Republic, Harp, Percussion, Countries Of The World

Myanmar: Music by the Hsaing Waing Orchestra: The Burmese Harp

The music of Burma (officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) is characterized by two types of music: chamber music played solo on instruments such as the Burmese harp, and orchestra music played primarily on percussion instruments.

These recordings, made by ethnomusicologist Cynthia Tse Kimberlin in 1972 in the capital city of Addis Ababa, showcase three Ethiopian chordophones: the bägänna, a large 10-string plucked lyre; the krar, a smaller 5- or 6-string plucked lyre; and the masinqo, a single-string spiked fiddle. The music represents styles of five Ethiopian ethnic groups—the Amhara, Dorze, Oromo, and two Tigre groups. Addis Ababa, Folk Music, Popular Music, Capital City, Musicals, Ethnic, Album, Traditional, Collection

Ethiopia: Three Chordophone Traditions

These recordings, made by ethnomusicologist Cynthia Tse Kimberlin in 1972 in the capital city of Addis Ababa, showcase three Ethiopian chordophones: the bägänna, a large 10-string plucked lyre; the krar, a smaller 5- or 6-string plucked lyre; and the masinqo, a single-string spiked fiddle. The music represents styles of five Ethiopian ethnic groups—the Amhara, Dorze, Oromo, and two Tigre groups.

These 1998 on-site recordings of two pilgrimages in northwestern Portugal capture the rich and varied music of the streets, squares, and pilgrimage sites of the Minho region at the end of the 20th century. Percussion ensembles, brass bands, intricate poetry and sung poetic competitions, concertina and stringed instrument-based ensembles, and the strong sound of women’s voices are all characteristic of this region of Portugal. Portugal, Brass Band, Percussion, Pilgrimage, Minho, New Life, Squares, The Voice, Competition

Portugal: Festas in Minho

These 1998 on-site recordings of two pilgrimages in northwestern Portugal capture the rich and varied music of the streets, squares, and pilgrimage sites of the Minho region at the end of the 20th century. Percussion ensembles, brass bands, intricate poetry and sung poetic competitions, concertina and stringed instrument-based ensembles, and the strong sound of women’s voices are all characteristic of this region of Portugal.

Portugal: Music and Dance from Madeira 15th Century, New Life, Discovery, 1970s, Appreciation, Portugal, Folk, Shape, Dance

Portugal: Music and Dance from Madeira

Part of Portugal since its discovery in the early 15th century, Madeira developed music, dance, and festival traditions that reflect and shape its history and social life. Political and economic changes since the 1970s have stimulated a renewed appreciation of local traditions that are researched and performed today by many grassroots folk groups, such as the one featured here.