The British Library Has an Archive of Sounds, and It’s Incredible


More than 80,000 audio recordings are available free for streaming online

Online galleries, libraries, archives, virtual tours, TV streaming and music playlists can offer an immense repertoire for your senses to feast on. Well, actually only two of them (your eyes and ears, right?). However, you might still feel there’s something missing. Maybe you are looking for a very specific sound. Let’s say, that of a woodpecker hunting for termites on an elm tree during the Fall in upstate New York.

Well, the British Library Sound Archive surely has it. Or something close to it, at least.

In 2009, the Library made its archive of world and traditional music available for everyone, for free, on the internet. It’s a collection of around 28,000 recordings, equivalent to 2,000 uninterrupted hours of singing, chanting, shouting, playing, tingling, yelling … you get the picture. But if you click on the Sounds archive, you’ll find recordings of accents, dialects, nature (where your woodpecker might actually be), oral history or even this short discourse by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Here’s just a taste of what’s available:

A 1955 recording of a Yorkshire, England housekeeper

If you want to visit the archive, just click here. Happy listening!




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