There Is No Cat

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Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Global Sound

The Smithsonian Institute is working on a web site to highlight archival recordings of indigenous music from around the world. One of their partners is the International Library of African Music, headquartered in South Africa, holders of the recordings made throughout Africa by legendary ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey from the 1920s to the 1970s. These recordings are invaluable; very few other people were interested in recording this music at the time, and it's largely disappeared today. A few ILAM recordings have been sporadically available over the years, notably on a few releases put out by the now-defunct Original Music label, and more recently on the Dutch SWP Records label, but they haven't been easy to find. I've got most of the Original Music CDs, and they're absolutely wonderful. The ILAM has been trying to digitize their holdings for a while; it's nice to see an organization like the Smithsonian get behind the effort. It appears that one of the things the new site is going to do is make the recordings available in MP3 format. The Smithsonian's Global Sound site isn't quite open yet, but I'm positively salivating over the prospect.

Posted at 8:24 AM

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You may already be aware of this, but their site is now live at www.smithsonianglobalsound.org

Posted by Case at 6:40 PM, May 20, 2005 [Link]

Thanks. Yeah, I visited it the day it was announced, and I was pretty impressed, particularly with the fact that they offer their music in both MP3 and lossless FLAC formats, but I was a bit disappointed that there was no provision to buy a full album; if you want the album, it's 99 cents a track, no matter how many tracks there are or how short they are. I'd like to hear Hugh Tracey's voice talking about Mwenda Jean Bosco, but at 99 cents for each 20 second track, the album I wanted to buy is now $20 for maybe 12 actual songs. I don't particularly want The Smithsonian to learn how to implement DRM and retroactively change the rights to music you've purchased from Apple, but they could learn a lesson in selling albums from them.

Posted by ralph at 7:01 AM, May 21, 2005 [Link]

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

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