In today's digital world where you can carry 20,000 songs in the palm of your hand, it is unfortunate that almost all of those tracks are in some way pop music. Now of course some of you carry those rare tracks and/or groups in your iPod that you take pride in, though the current choices for digital downloads just don't offer anything that isn't recorded for distribution.
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That is until now. Launched in February 2005 was the Smithsonian Global Sounds website offering a breath of fresh air for those who appreciate music from around the world.
Setup for geographical, or instrument navigation, this website not only offers music from major regions around the world (South America, West Africa, Russia, Asia etc), but smaller communities and tribes as well (Idoma, Nigeria, Garifuna, Belize, The Cuna and Chocoe tribes of Panama and so much more); more than 150 countries and regions are represented through music on SGS's website. SGS's purpose is to be a database of music archived by institutions, countries and studios from around the globe. SGS's 40,000-track database is currently credited to "International Library of African Music (ILAM), founded in 1954 and one of the greatest repositories of African music in the world, and the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology (ARCE) in New Delhi, India, established in 1982 to collate, centralize, and preserve collections of Indian music and oral traditions."
SGS is relatively new, however they are expecting to continue to grow as they attract other institutions and archives. However, there is plenty there now for one to be even slightly overwhelmed. Unless you are an ethnoculturalist, you probably won't even recognize a third of the countries on the list. But please do not let that dissuade you from spending just a little time on the site, because there is some great music there that you might live your entire life without hearing, and tracks can be previewed before buying.
Yes, I did say buying. Nothing is free in life, but don't fret because these tracks cost no more than what you currently pay at iTunes. That's right, just $.99 per track, and there are no monthly fee's. That makes this the most refreshing and exhilarating addition to the music world since iTunes.
With this Smithsonian contribution, the world has just got smaller for all of the right reasons: global cultural awareness and appreciation.