World Music Archives

The World Music Archives collects and preserves ethnomusicological field research and other original audio and video recordings.

  • About the Archives

    From its origins as Prof. Emeritus David McAllester's personal fieldwork collection of Comanche and Navajo music, recorded in 1940 and 1950 and first used in teaching at Wesleyan in 1953, the World Music Archives has grown to include original field research materials from graduate students and established scholars, from Wesleyan and elsewhere, documenting human musical practices around the world. More About the Archives
    • well over 3000 original audio tapes (reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, digital audio tapes, and digitally-recorded betamax)
    • approximately 700 discs (primarily 78 rpm commercial discs, but also a number of instantaneous disc records)
    • 100 videotapes in numerous formats
    • accompanying notes, texts, and indexes

    Archival materials by and about musicians that are not field recordings, for example the John Cage Papers, are mostly held in Special Collections & Archives.

  • Notable Collections

    Wesleyan is extremely fortunate to have a number of important World Music collections, including some of the most significant archival recordings of Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, and Native American music — among many other traditions. More about Notable Collections
    • David McAllester's collection of Navajo music, the largest in the world, which includes eight different versions of the Blessingway ceremony, and two of Shootingway, among other ceremonies, each with hundreds of songs
    • The only recordings in the United States of the Ulahingan, an epic of the Bagobo people in the Philippines
    • Important collections of Iranian, Japanese, Spanish, Shetland Islands, Greek, and North Indian (Hindustani) music
    • Shona mbira music from Zimbabwe
    • The "History of the American Cantorate" project, including interviews and sung examples from 93 cantors from the Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox Jewish traditions
    • Exceptional collections of Indonesian and South Indian (Karnatak) music, two specialties of the world music program at Wesleyan
  • Locating and Accessing Our Materials

    Most of our recordings can be found via OneSearch.

    Some of our collections are online in Library Digital Collections. Many items, however, are not yet digitized. These are research materials that may be fragile, restricted, or need special attention before we can provide access to you.

    Please contact the Director of World Music Archives early on in your research process, and allow some time for us to prepare your request.

  • Our Staff

    Aaron Bittel, Director of World Music Archives and Music Librarian
    Jody Cormack Viswanathan, Archives Assistant
    Jennifer Thom Hadley, Music Library Assistant