The Archive does not provide collection appraisal services. For information about collection appraisal, please see:

Description of Collections
Since its inception in 1961, the Archive has acquired hundreds of unique collections of field recordings from around the world. These non-commercial, one-of-a-kind treasures constitute the core of the Archive’s holdings. Detailed information for these and all of the Archive’s holdings can be found in our online catalog, ethnomusicat.

Additional information about the Archive’s unique collections is listed alphabetically by collector’s name on our Selected Field Recordings pages. Geographically organized information about these unique collections can be found by visiting our interactive world atlas, found here.

While the Archive’s recordings span the musics of the world, certain areas are especially strong: Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and the music of Native North Americans. Although ethnomusicology is considered to be an approach to the study of music of all cultural areas, the Archive does not house recordings of European classical music or popular music of the United States. (Both of which can be found in the UCLA Music Library.) The Archive holds noncommercial field recordings from over 200 collectors. The majority of the Archive’s noncommercial field recordings were recorded by UCLA faculty and students, past and present.

Materials in the Archive encompass a variety of media: sound recordings, videotapes, films, photographs, slides, and printed materials. The major part of the collection, however, is composed of sound recordings, principally ethnic and folk musics of the world and art musics of the nonwestern world. The collection includes both noncommercial field recordings and commercially produced recordings on disc, reel-to-reel and cassette tape, and video. Greater detail on a number of the collections can be found on the Archive’s web page.

As part of the University of California and as an institution located within the state, the Archive has a special interest in collecting and preserving the music of California (click here to learn more about the California Collection). The Archive wishes to make available resources that will facilitate the study of the history and development of music within California, particularly Southern California and Los Angeles.

The Archive also collects paper-based collections from time to time. One of the Archive’s earliest paper-based acquisitions was the East Asian Collection, a collection of approximately 1000 textual sources (originals or photocopies of manuscripts, musical notations, books, and articles) in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. Notable among the Japanese materials are custom-bound books of prints made from microfilms of gagaku manuscripts that were obtained in Japan by Prof. Robert Garfias (Ph.D., UCLA). The Chinese materials were enhanced in 1967 when UCLA faculty member Tsun Yuen Lui purchased a number of rare, string-bound volumes in Hong Kong. Korean acquisitions include a number of works covering classical music and theory. The Thai materials include photocopies of Thai court music manuscripts obtained by Prof. David Morton (Ph.D., UCLA).

Including preservation and listening/viewing copies, the Archive holds over 100,000 sound and audiovisual recordings, filling approximately 5000 linear feet of storage space. The Archive’s collections approximately include the following quantity and types of master recordings: 20,000 reel-to-reel tapes, 19,000 12″ LP records, 6,000 78rpm records, 6,000 compact discs, 4,000 analog audio tape cassettes, 1500 7″ 45rpm records, 1,000+ moving image media (e.g. films, videos, DVDs), 500 wire recordings, 100 digital audio tape cassettes, and a small collection of wax cylinders used for demonstration purposes. In addition to audiovisual recordings, the collections include 6,000 slides/photos, 1,100 scores, 800 books, 250 PhD. dissertations and MA theses, 150 linear feet of manuscripts and field notes, and 80 serial titles.

The Archive’s materials do not circulate and may not be duplicated without written permission from the copyright holders, collectors, and/or performers.