THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Sound and vision blog

11 posts categorized "Europeana"

12 November 2018

Recording of the week: a duet for Ugandan lyres

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This week's selection comes from Tom Miles, Metadata Coordinator for Europeana Sounds.

This song, recorded in Kamuli, Uganda in 1954 by the pioneering ethnomusicologist Klaus Wachsmann, is of two ntongoli players, Kaija and Isake Ibande, from the Soga culture.

Abe Waife (BL reference C4/39)

The ntongoli is a type of lyre, a stringed instrument. The Hornbostel Sachs musical instrument classification system defines the lyre as a “yoke lute” – that is, the strings are borne by a beam connecting two prongs that emerge from the resonator. Thus, the shape of the lyre generally resembles the head of a horned animal. But a search for “lyre” on Europeana shows that lyres come in many different shapes and sizes, some very simply made, some with ornate and colourful decorations.

The lyre is most closely associated with the mythological character of Ancient Greece, Orpheus, who played so beautifully that he charmed the animals who heard him.

Lyre (ntongoli) UofEdin CC-BY-NC-SAA late 20th century ntongoli (University of Edinburgh via Europeana, CC-BY-NC-SA)

Although the image of this beautiful ntongoli, held at the University of Edinburgh, is taken from an upright position, the instrument is actually played tilted over so that the strings are more or less horizontal, rather like a guitar. You can hear from this recording that the singing and playing is very intense and powerful, with rhythmic patterns from one instrument following the other in rapid succession.

Visit British Library Sounds to hear more recordings from the Klaus Wachsmann Uganda collection.

Follow @EuropeanaMusic and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

26 September 2017

Sounds of London

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Pinar-Cevikayak-Yelmi

In this guest blog post Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi describes her recent audio recording projects.

Initiated in July 2017 during my research at the British Library, the London Soundsslike Project aimed to collect symbolic sounds of London. A list of the most characteristic sounds of London was informed by public participation - British Library staff and others responded to a questionnaire I circulated. Then I recorded a representative selection of these sounds and archived them on the Soundsslike platform. The London Soundsslike Project remains a dynamic crowd-sourced sound archive which is open to further contributions.

The London project is a sub-project of the Soundsslike Project which aims to raise public awareness of urban and cultural sounds and to create a global crowd-sourced sound archive. The Soundsslike Project was initiated to expand the Soundscape of Istanbul collection which was created during my doctoral research at Koç University, Istanbul. The Soundscape of Istanbul project approaches everyday traditions and daily urban life from a sonic perspective and aims to increase public awareness of cultural sounds, e,g. through public exhibitions.

Sound is part of our daily lives and our cultures, and is of great importance in terms of intangible cultural heritage. Sonic cultural heritage is twice endangered due to the physical characteristics of sound itself and the dynamic structure of intangible culture. Sounds that are not protected or archived get lost forever. In a dynamic city such as Istanbul, daily life and urban sounds change rapidly. Therefore, it is necessary and worthwhile to conserve cultural soundmarks of the city so as to sustain cultural identity and cultural memory. The Soundscape of Istanbul collection is now archived at Koç University’s library, on the Europeana Sounds platform and on the global database WorldCat. 

Here are some sound samples from the London Soundsslike Project, with accompanying images:

Big-Ben-Chimes

Big Ben Chimes

Tower-Bridge

Tower Bridge

Free-Evening-Standard-Man

Free Evening Standard Man

Ferry-Horn

Ferry Horn

16 January 2017

Listen to and tag thousands of music tracks on Europeana's radio player

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Europeana Sounds, a project that connects digital sound archives across Europe, has just launched an interactive radio player.

Now you can enjoy listening to 200,000 music tracks, and while listening, add labels to help other listeners to find recordings.

The player and tagging are very easy to use and no sign-up is required:

  • Press the play button in the player below to hear a recording
  • Select a term in the list shown in the 'Refine the music genre' box, then press 'Add'
  • Use the buttons below the play window to pause a recording, or to jump to the next
  • You can also select Classical, Folk, or Popular music genres
  • So, listen & tag!


On Thursday, Europeana Sounds will be holding a #TagDayThursday. We want to gather as many new genre tags in Europeana Radio as possible – you can help us make this happen! A progress bar can be seen at www.europeana.eu/portal/en/radio.html

For more information, please see the Europeana Sounds website www.europeanasounds.eu and the press release about the Europeana radio player http://pro.europeana.eu/blogpost/new-interactive-player-europeana-radio-launches-as-an-outcome-of-europeana-sounds-project

The animation below shows how to add tags:

The Europeana Sounds project is co-funded by the European Commission under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.

23 September 2016

Europeana Sounds second editathon!

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As part of our Europeana Sounds project we will be holding our second wildlife sounds editathon at the British Library between 10am and 4pm on Saturday the 8th October.  Join us on a sound safari, as we explore the sound holdings on African wildlife.

Sound safari

Europeana Sounds is a three year European funded project, coordinated by the British Library. As part of the project we are aggregating over half a million audio recordings into Europeana and have been working on licensing and enrichment and participation, which includes smaller crowdsourcing projects.

The editathon enables participants to work with our African and British Wildlife sounds collections to expand Wikipedia and enrich existing pages. Whether you’re a fan of editing Wikipedia, have a passion for sounds, or would like to know more about our collections, come along and spend the day with the Europeana Sounds team. There will be Wikimedians available throughout the day for hands on training so if you’ve never edited before, now would be an ideal time to come and learn how it’s done. If you have previous experience of editing, bring your headphones and listen to some of our wonderful collection whilst improving Wikipedia.

The full event details are available on our project website, and the sign up page can be found here. We just need you to your laptop, headphones and enthusiasm and we’ll provide the rest (including lunch!).

Workshop Programme:

10.00-10.30 Arrival and welcome coffee. Log on and computer checks.

10.30-10.45 Introduction to the British Library and an introduction to Europeana Sounds.

10.45-11.00 Introductions to British Library Sounds and Wildlife collection from curator Cheryl Tipp

11.00-11.15 Introduction to Wikimedia

11.15-12.45 Hands on session editing Wikipedia and training available throughout.

12.45-13.00 Recap and sharing

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.45 Edits continue

15.45-16.00 Recap of the day and work done

16.00 End!

If you have any further questions or would like to know more please contact Laura Miles: laura.miles@bl.uk

30 October 2015

Europeana Sounds Editathon

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As part of our Europeana Sounds project we will be holding an editathon at the British Library between 10am and 4pm on Saturday the 7th November, and would love you to join us.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/12403504@N02/11002094234/

Europeana Sounds is a two year European funded project, coordinated by the British Library. As part of the project we are aggregating over half a million audio recordings into Europeana and have been working on licensing and enrichment and participation which includes smaller crowdsourcing projects.

As part of our editathon we’ll be working with our British Wildlife sounds collection to expand Wikipedia and enrich existing pages. Whether you’re a fan of editing Wikipedia, have a passion for sounds or would like to work with our collection come along and spend the day with the Europeana Sounds team. There will be Wikimedians available throughout the day for hands on training so if you’ve never edited before, now would be an ideal time to come and learn how it’s done. If you have previous experience of editing, bring your headphones and listen to some of our wonderful collection whilst improving Wikipedia.

The full event details are available on our project website, and the sign up page can be found here. We just need you to your laptop, headphones and enthusiasm and we’ll provide the rest (including lunch!).

Workshop Programme:

10.00-10.30 Arrival and welcome coffee. Log on and computer checks.

10.30-10.45 Introduction to the British Library and an introduction to Europeana Sounds.

10.45-11.00 Introductions to British Library Sounds and Wildlife collection from curator Cheryl Tipp

11.00-11.15 Introduction to Wikimedia

11.15-12.45 Hands on session editing Wikipedia and training available throughout.

12.45-13.00 Recap and sharing

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.45 Edits continue

15.45-16.00 Recap of the day and work done

16.00 End!

If you have any further questions or would like to know more please contact Laura Miles: laura.miles@bl.uk

13 April 2015

British wildlife recordings on the move

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Over the last 2 1/2 years, we have been working alongside 25 European partners on a project that aims to enable and promote greater re-use of digitised cultural heritage resources. With its eyes focused firmly on the creative industries, Europeana Creative has facilitated the unlocking of previously restricted content and, through a series of pilots, produced apps and websites that demonstrate ways in which this material could potentially be used by the creative sector. Themed challenges were also issued to external developers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs to create viable online applications that in some way re-used cultural heritage content available through the Europeana platform. 

At the start of the project we were charged with providing access to 3000 wildlife, environmental and urban sound recordings under defined Creative Commons licenses. The first stage was to upload content to Europeana but, never ones to rest on our laurels, we also decided to provide access to as many sounds as possible through one of the most well-known audio platforms out there - SoundCloud.

The first recordings to begin the journey over to Soundcloud focus on the sounds of Britain's wildlife. Orginally presented on our website British Library Sounds, recordings featured in British Wildlife Recordings were, for most listeners, only available in a streaming capacity. Downloading was restricted to students at registered UK HE & FE institutions, thereby significantly limiting the potential for creative re-use beyond the academic sector. Now, under the auspices of Europeana Creative, these recordings are being migrated to Soundcloud and made available under CC-BY licenses. Here are just a few of the sounds that you can now download and re-use, edit however you wish:

More recordings will be added over the coming weeks so do keep an eye on the British Wildlife Recordings playlist - and if you happen to re-use some of these sounds in interesting and creative ways, do get in touch as we'd love to know!

In addition to releasing a range of sound recordings, more that 90,000 images have also been added to Europeana. Around 60,000 of these have been taken from a larger set of over 1 million public domain images released by the British Library onto Flickr Commons at the end of 2013. The rest have been drawn from the Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, again under the public domain mark, but with some recommendations on access & re-use. Together, these digitised resources provide, what we hope will be, ample material for individuals working within the creative industries to re-use and draw inspiration from in a multitude of different ways.

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Image taken from page 200 of 'British Ornithology; being the history, with a coloured representation of every known species of British birds'

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Image taken from page 26 of 'Bonnie Bairns. Illustrated by H. Jackson. Edited by Edric Vredenburg. Verses by E. M. Chettle, etc'

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Image taken from page 215 of 'Siberia in Asia: a visit to the valley of the Yenesay in East Siberia. With description of the natural history, migration of birds, etc. ... With map, etc'

Illuminated manuscript

Kings9 f. 66v: Annunciation (Miniature of the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. Mary sits with a book; the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. In the margin is a note from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, reading 'Be daly prove you shall me fynde / To be to you bothe lovynge and kynde.') 

28 February 2014

Europeana Sounds gets underway!

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Organisations from across Europe visited the British Library on 17 - 18 February to mark the launch of the Europeana Sounds project (more information about the project). The three-year project is being coordinated by the British Library, and we were delighted to be able to welcome all the delegates who made the journey to London, braving the typically wet February weather.

Europeana_Sounds_KickOff_British Library_Elizabeth_Hunter_CCBYSA30pc
image: British Library/Elizabeth Hunter CC-BY-SA

Europeana Sounds will use innovative digital technology to improve access to some of Europe’s leading collections of sounds and related material. The event was therefore an opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss just what sort of inventive strategies will be adopted in order to enrich the audiences’ experience of the wealth of recordings that will be made available through the project’s life-span and beyond.

Many fruitful discussions occurred over the two days. Of particular interest was the issue of licensing material in order to provide as much access as possible, whilst ensuring that content providing institutions feel that the material in their custody is sufficiently protected. Indeed, in the case of recordings of ‘traditional’ or ‘ceremonial’ music that may contain culturally sensitive material, this will need to be taken into account in the same way that legal consideration must be adhered to.

Whilst there is a great deal of expertise amongst the project partners, this sense of balance could not be achieved without an engaged and enthusiastic audience. Fortunately, we will be working with the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision and Historypin to engage different communities and to enrich the project’s metadata through crowdsourcing and edit-a-thons. In turn, this will make it easier for end-users to find what they are looking for. This focus on usability will be augmented by the development of thematic channels on the Europeana portal, and through other digital sound sharing platforms, Spotify and SoundCloud.

Those attending the meeting were reminded of the joy of listening and of discovering new sounds by the two ‘concert’ sessions, where selected partners presented recordings from their archives.

Janet Topp Fargion of the British Library selected this recording of a Sora ancestor song to illustrate the fact that although Europeana aggregates digital objects held in European institutions, the subjects may be international, reflecting the research interests of scholars and users based in Europe.

Sora ancestor song

(Recorded by Rolf Killius, Orissa, India, 2001. Source: The British Library)

Mairead Dhòmhnallach of Tobar an Dulchais presented 'Latha Dhomh ’s mi Buain a’ Choirce' as sung by Kate MacMillan. It is a recording of a traditional Gaelic, one of thousands that will be made available through Europeana thanks to the project.

Latha Dhomh ’s mi Buain a’ Choirce

(Recorded by John Lorne Campbell, Scotland, 1949. Source: The National Trust for Scotland)

Zane Grosa from the National Library of Latvia shared this recording, the only surviving work of orchestral music by Latvian composer Emils Dārziņš. He destroyed his other symphonic works after being accused of plagiarism, and ended his life when he was just 34, apparently throwing himself under the train.

Melanholiskais valsis

(Source: National Library of Latvia)

Alexander König of the Max Planck Institute for Pyscholinguistics gave us this field recording, made in the village of Tauwema in the Trobriand Islands as part of a project to document the Kilivila language. This example serves to highlight that Europeana Sounds will work with environmental and linguistic, as well as musical, material.

Tauwema Village

(Recorded by Gunter Senft, Tauwema, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea, 2003. Source: Max Planck Institute for Pyscholinguistics)


Picture1Europeana Sounds is funded by the European Union under its ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programm.

27 February 2014

London Calling

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The sounds of London will soon be playing a key role in the second year of the EU funded project, Europeana Creative. The project itself seeks to encourage people working in the creative industries to re-use digitised content from some of Europe's most revered cultural institutions. The online discovery platform Europeana is at the heart of the project and features millions of items, from paintings and manuscripts to sounds and sheet music.

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Panorama of the River Thames, 1730, The Wellcome Library (via Europeana)


One of the main aims of Europeana Creative is to create 5 prototypes, from educational games to teaching apps, which will demonstrate ways in which Europeana content can be transformed. The British Library and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision have delved into their respective archives and pulled out thousands of recordings for the project's Social Networks enrichment prototype. In the coming months members of the public will be invited to enhance these sounds by adding images, text and links from Europeana and beyond. One of the themes, Cityscapes, will present a selection of recordings from two crowdsourcing projects; The UK Soundmap and Sound of the Netherlands.  The cities of London and Amsterdam are the focus of the theme, partly because they received the most contributions but also because the potential for enrichment is greater - a few of the British examples include:

Spinning Wheel in Yarn Shop, Bethnal Green

Speakers Corner, Hyde Park

The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square

Tate Modern Turbine Hall, Bankside

The enrichment process will not only give added depth to the sounds but will allow the formation of mini "exhibitions", each one dedicated to a particular recording and sculpted into shape by the public.

Original sound recordings, like those featured in the prototype can offer creative minds unlimited inspiration. Field recordist and sound artist, Yiorgis Sakellariou recently created an audio montage from recordings he made across London. This piece, complete with photographs and text, demonstrates just one way in which sounds can form the basis of a creative piece of work.

London

Since late 2012 I am residing in London. The city is loud and almost every day my ears are exposed to high decibel levels and a cacophony of incoming sonic information. However, the more I listen to these common sounds, the more I discover the extraordinary within the ordinary, the exquisite in the everyday.

The piece consists of recordings that took place throughout 2013 on several locations in London. The urban soundscape can provide a great variety of textures, sometimes hollow, others powerful. The calm atmosphere at Tottenham Marshes, the poly-rhythmic patterns of the escalators at London Bridge tube station, ventilation drones at Chinatown, bird songs mixed with distant traffic hiss at Dulwich Park...

Listening to the city's soundscape can become a submerging experience which helps me rejoice my daily routines and discover a new and profound sonic world.

Yiorgis Sakellariou January 2014

London - Yiorgis Sakellariou (5'06")

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It will be interesting to see how Europeana Creative is able to inspire new ideas, new products and new ways of approaching and re-using Europe's collective cultural heritage. Stay tuned for more news on the enrichment prototype and how you can help us build this exciting new product.