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UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music

The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music comprises more than 125 albums of music from around the world. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will publish a dozen previously unreleased albums and will re-release all of those recordings published between 1961 and 2003 and out of print since 2005. All will be available in both digital and physical formats.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the series in collaboration with ethnomusicologist Alain Daniélou (1907–1994) and the International Music Council (IMC). Collaboration continued more recently with the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM). The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music stands as one of the earliest achievements of UNESCO’s program for safeguarding and revitalizing intangible cultural heritage.

With recordings from more than 70 nations, the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music offers a staggering diversity of our shared humanity. Much of the collection was gathered in situ and is presented as field recordings. Extensive annotations and photographs accompany each release. The republishing of this collection marks renewed commitment to making this unique collection of diverse musical expressions accessible to the public. Starting April 29, 2014, two albums per week will be released until more than 120 albums are available via digital download, streaming services, on-demand physical CDs, and library audio subscription.

Now Available:

Previously Unreleased Albums:

Two Albums Released Per Week Starting April 29, 2014

The release of the UNESCO collection began on April 29, 2014, with two albums released every week for approximately one year. Stay updated about the collection and learn more about how to become a UNESCO collection guest blogger by signing up to our mailing list below.

Titles in the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music:


  • UNES08054 Aka Pygmy Music
  • **UNES08037 Algeria: Sahara – Music of Gourara
  • **UNES08057 Benin: Bariba and Somba Music
  • UNES08029 Cameroon: Baka Pygmy Music
  • UNES08020 Central African Republic
  • UNES08043 Central African Republic: Banda Polyphony
  • UNES08203 Côte d’Ivoire: A Senufo-Fodonon - Funerary Vigil
  • **UNES08048 Côte d’Ivoire: Baule Vocal Music
  • UNES08038 Egypt: Taqâsîm & Layâlî - Cairo Tradition
  • UNES08074 Ethiopia: Three Cordophone Traditions
  • UNES08275 Madagascar: Land of The Betsimisaraka
  • UNES08282 Madagascar: Spirit Music from the Tamatave Region
  • UNES08265 Music Tradition of Malawi
  • UNES08002 Morocco: Arabic Traditional Music
  • UNES08006 Niger/Northern Benin: Music of the Fulani
  • UNES08072 Sudan: Music of the Blue Nile Province - The Gumuz Tribe
  • UNES08073 Sudan: Music of the Blue Nile Province - The Ingessana and Berta Tribes


Australia and Oceania


North America

South America

Compilation Albums

*Previously Unreleased
**Currently Available at