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Sound archives

Sound archives: unpublished material

The origins of the Audiovisual Department date back to the Archives de la Parole, created by linguist Ferdinand Brunot in 1911. The aim was to record and preserve for future generations all forms of spoken language: dialects, foreign languages, the voices of personalities like Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred Dreyfus, Emile Durkheim, etc.

In 1928, the Musée de la Parole et du Geste took over from the Archives de la Parole. The linguistic perspective gave way to a musical approach whose crowning glories are, for example, the “musical anthology” from the Paris Colonial Exhibition in 1931 and the Symposium on Arabic Music in Cairo in 1932.

Materials collected by the Museum in other countries, such as those collected in Romania (1928), Czechoslovakia (1929), and Greece (1930), are another component of this rare and valuable heritage. 

Just as unique are field recordings made by great discoverers and collectors such as Paul-Emile Victor in Greenland, Geneviève Massignon in Acadia, and, more recently, Félix Quilici in Corsica (Corsican polyphonies recorded between 1948 and 1963), Deben Bhattacharya around the world (world music between 1954 and 2000), Simha Arom (pygmy polyphonies and polyrhythms), etc.

At the same time, musicians have long been keen to donate their unpublished archives to the Library, often accompanied by written and graphic documentation. These collections include recordings of concerts by the Orchestre de Paris, test records by Nadia Boulanger, works by selected composers from the Festival de l’Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB), etc.

Finally, as the field of humanities has developed, sound recordings have come to take on a non-negligible role: examples are oral history including the collection of the Historical Research Center of the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences (Centre de Recherche Historique de l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales) (life stories based around disappearing trades) and the gathering of life stories from police officers at the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Penal Institutions (Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions pénales/CESDIP). These recordings also have a significant role as accounts and records: examples are the recordings of lectures given by Gilles Deleuze at the University of Paris 8 between 1979 and 1987 and the full range of conferences and symposiums held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

All these materials may be consulted in the Research library.

Available for consultation on an open access basis in the Reference library are a thousand hours’ worth of famous voices and radio archives.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Where to consult the documents ?

Audiovisual Department

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