Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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British Library launches campaign to save the sounds of history

Moken

My writing career started right here, at the British Library’s National Sound Archive. I went to see them in 1993 after my first return from India. I was interested in the music of indigenous communities in the region and approached the National Sound Archive’s International Music Collection with an offer of recording and documenting the obscure sounds of Asia. A wonderful collaboration emerged in the following years. With equipment and a small grant from the Archive I roamed around Asia and recorded musicians in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, The Philippines. and Indonesia. Three CDs of my work were released and I wrote and lectured on disappearing music. I did my last recordings on the eve of the tsunami a decade ago in Sumatra. Many of the musical traditions – from the Andaman Islands to the Hindu Kush – have since disappeared. All my recordings remain with the archive and I hope there is some way to save all this invaluable collective memory.

Now The British Library has started a campaign to find funding to save its vast archive of historical sounds, and its a race against time as many old recordings are deteriorating and need to be digitized. Read more in The Daily Telegraph.

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