This page explains how to search for world music recordings and streaming media through the library catalog. The box below outlines search strategies and includes several suggested collections. To learn more about the streaming audio and video databases the library subscribes to, check out the box at the bottom of the page.
If you need help distinguishing between the various audio and video formats listed in the catalog (it can be confusing!), make sure to look at our page on decoding audio and video format information.
You can search for world music recordings using a basic keyword search (example: Folk music and Bulgaria) and limit to audio, or you can use the advanced search to perform a subject search.
To search by subject:
Example subject searches (remember to limit by format or resource type if you only want audio or video results):
Tip: Play around with a few searches until you find good results. Once you've found a few promising recordings, see what subject headings were used to classify the results you liked and try to search by those.
The item records for many of our world music recordings include a country or region code that you can search by. To figure out which code to use, consult the Outline of World Cultures (call number: GN345.3 M871983) at MPAL or the digitized version of the text available online through Hathi Trust.
**However, it is important to note that these HRAF codes are not consistently applied in the catalog, so this search won't be exhaustive. Make sure to also try keyword and subject searches if you aren't finding the material you need.
Example: The screenshot above shows a sample search for recordings of Mongolian music. Using the HRAF code for Mongolia (AH1) listed in the Outline of World Cultures, you can perform a subject search for HRAF [space] AH1 and use the "material type" filter on the right to limit to "sound recordings".
If you are looking for a place to start and want to browse some of the world music collections available through the Library, check out the recordings and video listed below.
The best streaming audio database for world music is Smithsonian Global Sound (linked below), but check out the full list of databases to see the range of resources available. Be sure to also check out the next tab on publicly available streaming media as there are some great resources there too!
This box collects archives of videos and sound recordings that are publicly available to all regardless of institutional affiliation. You'll find many that are specific to particular countries or regions, but also some general collections of world music as well! This is by no means an exhaustive list (and we would recommend spending some time browsing on YouTube to find more material), but these resources are a great starting point to guide your exploration.