Sound Archives of the Institute for Musicology

IM Sound Archives

Database site

The Sound Archives at the Institute for Musicology was officially established on January 1, 1999. Naturally, however, the Folk Music Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has had a technical department since the very beginnings (1953) and continued work under the auspices of the Institute for Musicology which was created through the merging of the Bartók Archives and the Folk Music Research Group.

Besides the Hungarian folk music and folk dance documents, it contains invaluable, unique and irrecoverable recordings on the musical, game and dance traditions of almost fifty cultures from all over the world (mainly Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America) in the time frame of 1896–2004.

20.000 hours of sound recordings
400.000 m films
250.000 pages of musical transcriptions
2000 pages of dance notation (Labanotation)
80.000 photos

The foundation of the collection was laid by Béla Bartók’s, Zoltán Kodály’s collections at the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries. Since that time, pupils of Bartók and Kodály continued to enlarge, systematize and make accessible the material of the continually growing collection.

In the first period, from the late 19th century collection of Béla Vikár to the 1950s, the sound recordings were preserved at the Museum of Ethnography (some 4 500 cylinders with about 200–250 hours of music). Until the appearance of portable magnetic tape recorders in 1955, the sound recordings were made on a Webster's wire recorder. After collecting, the recorded material was all transferred on single LPs, called the AP disks (= Academic Pyral). From the sixties, folk music recordings stored in other institutions were also brought into the Archive: the total phonograph collection of the Museum of Ethnography was copied onto tape, similarly to the authentic recordings possessed by the Hungarian State Broadcast, recordings by Hungarian folk music researchers abroad, individual collections, etc.

In the 1990s an epochal change took place in technology. Traditional LPs were taken out of circulation and began to be replaced by CDs. AP records stopped being made and since 1996, the recordings have all been transferred to CDs. Storing digitized copies on CDs is a temporary solution, therefore, we are searching for new technologies to preserve the recordings for posterity.

Connected collections and publications

  1. The Kodály-system (including its historical sources from the 19th century) 
  2. Musical sheets of Kodály-system (1905–1958) 
  3. Collection of Hungarian Folk Music (1959–2011)
  4. Knowledge Base of Traditional Dances