Smithsonian Global Sound® for Libraries

Smithsonian Global Sound

A virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions

“If Magellan had access to [this collection], he might have stayed home . . . a unique and impressive collection of music, not to mention a rich archive of everyday sound” – [A+ rating] Library Journal

“Sound quality is as good as the originals. . . Highly recommended.  Libraries supporting area studies and ethnomusicology; all levels” - CHOICE


Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries is the largest and most comprehensive streaming audio collection of world music.  It currently provides streaming access to over 42,000 tracks from the Smithsonian archives and world music archives in Asia and Africa, and is growing regularly as new recordings are added. 

The most comprehensive audio collection available

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries provides coverage in breadth and depth for world music, and is essential for music history, music appreciation, world music courses and ethnomusicology:

  • Music from 169 countries from around the world
  • Over 1,000 distinct genres and sub-genres available
  • Over 1,400 cultural groups represented
  • Over 450 languages represented
  • Data on 100,000s of artists and ensembles



Curated collections of the highest quality

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries currently comprises the following curated collections:


  • American Institute for Indian Studies
  • Archive and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology
  • Collector Records
  • Cook Records
  • Dyer-Bennet Records
  • Fast Folk Musical Magazine
  • Folkways Records
  • International Library of African Music
  • Mickey Hart Collection
  • Monitor Records
  • M.O.R.E. Records
  • Paredon Records
  • Smithsonian Folkways Special Series

It also incorporates a number of unique thematic collections, including:

  • World music archives offering a cultural soundtrack that illuminates the history and literature of nations and peoples from every continent.
  • Topics in American history come alive with music such as with ballads from the American Revolution, War of 1812, or the American Civil War; freedom and protest songs from the Civil Rights era; songs from the Slave Coast; Canada's history in song, and much more.
  • Firsthand approaches to literature include biography, memoir, drama, and poetry. Works by Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois, Mahalia Jackson, Sterling Brown, and others are shared by the authors themselves, while additional works such as the ancient Greek tragedies and those by Ralph Waldo Emerson are performed by others.
  • An extensively developed children's collection helps bring the world to kids from kindergarten through middle school, including a plethora of counting games, childhood songs, holiday tunes, stories, and sing-alongs from around the world.

For information on the functionality that makes our listening collections so powerful, click here