Erich von Hornbostel Collection


Housed at the American Folklife Center, Washington D.C. in the U.S, the Erich von Hornbostel Collection is a collection of recorded music archives by Erich von Hornbostel (1877 – 1935), an Austrian ethnomusicologist and scholar of music. Hornbostel is remembered for his pioneering work in the field of ethnomusicology, and for the Sachs–Hornbostel system of musical instrument classification which he co-authored with Curt Sachs.

The collection features two 10-inch tapes of music originally recorded on cylinders in Africa, Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Greenland, Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, New Guinea, North America, and South America, by various collectors. The music was compiled on 120 cylinders by Hornbostel at the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv as the Hornbostel Demonstration Collection. The archive was donated to the archive by Walter V. Bingham 1943. The collection includes 3/4 linear inch of correspondence, descriptions, lists, and notes. A published description is contained in volume eight, pages 35-77, of The Federal Cylinder Project: A Guide to Field Cylinder Collections in Federal Agencies: Volume 8: Early Anthologies (Washington, D.C.; American Folklife Center, 1984).

Hornbostel specialised in African and Asian music, making many recordings and developing a system that facilitated the transcription of non-Western music from record to paper. He saw the musical tunings used by various cultural groups as an essential element in determining the character of their music, and did much work in comparing different tunings.

The collection has an AFS 10,053B27 tape (2 minutes; LWO 1416 reel 1B) which contains a song sung while dancing. The song was recorded in Nigeria by Karl E. Laman in 1908.

USWashington, United States


American Folklife Centre
Profile added by Ano Shumba on 08 Oct 2015