Linked European Archives for Ethnomusicological Research

ethnoArc (A European Research Project in the 6th Framework Programme: Information Society Technologies - Access to and preservation of cultural and scientific resources) aims to improve access to the wealth of Europe's ethno-musical cultural heritage. In particular, it wants to contribute to the preservation, connectedness and exploitation of some of the most prestigious traditional sound archives in Europe: in Bucharest, Budapest, Berlin and Geneva. Each of these institutions is unique and is shaped by its own context and history (emphases of holdings, structures of recording, state of preservation, information management tools, etc.). Today, if digital at all, they apply different technical formats, software architectures and metadata structures, making comparisons of content almost impossible.

ethnoArc wants to jointly develop a “linked archive”: a common internet portal for distributed field collections from different sources, enabling access to resources for various application and research purposes. The system will be designed to conduct multi-archive searches and to compare retrieved data. To create the linked archive puts a substantial challenge not only to software development, but also to ethnomusicology and archive science: various systems of order in various languages have to be coordinated for correspondences and common categories, to enable automated “translation” - mapping - of rich metadata from one database to the other. In the course of implementation, the archives will also be supported in their efforts to digitise and catalogue their materials.
ethnoArc is run by an international network of seven partners: four sound archives, a technology developer, and two multidisciplinary research institutions. The European Union will finance the project for two years, which started in September 2006.
Thanks to ethnoArc and its upshots, it will be easier for scholars as well as artists and others to use and valorise traditional folk music. It will incite modern, comprehensive and comparative research in ethnomusicology, anthropology or related disciplines, and will deepen and spread awareness and familiarity with the common European memory and identity.