This is the story of institutional collaboration at its best.
In 2013 Bill Palmer sent through a list of 78 rpm discs held by the National Library of Australia, summarised in their catalog as follows:
“The collection consists of two albums and 20 single sound discs, word lists, slides and photographs. Records include specimens of native languages of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate; speech of Hagen natives; gospel recordings; and titles in Fijian, Babatana, Owa Raha, Bilua, Marovo, Dobu, Ungarinyin, Hula, Tavara, Motu, Johore Malay, Western Sumatra Malay, Wedau and Police Motu. Brief typescript word lists are included with the Motu, Hula, Tavara, Dobu and Babatana sound discs. There is an English-Owa Rahan vocabluary for the Owa Raha disc.”
We sent a request to the NLA with whom PARADISEC has always had a close working relationship. They agreed in principle and then we had periodic contact about this. In July 2015 we approached the National Film and Sound Archive who have the necessary playback equipment. Further to-ing and fro-ing of emails finally resulted in agreement from the NLA in June 2016.
Continue reading ‘Working together to bring legacy Pacific language recordings to light’ »
Recently the call came to the Sydney office of PARADISEC that a collection of tapes had arrived in Melbourne that needed some cleaning (see the earlier post here). The tapes were from Madang in Papua New Guinea and had been recorded in the 1960s. They contained valuable and rare records of language and music of PNG.
When the tapes arrived they were visibly covered in a white mould and so the PARADISEC audio preservation team moved into action to remediate the tapes ready for digitisation.
Mould is a common form of contamination of magnetic analogue tape that creates problems as the infected tape will not give a clear signal when played back. Even a small speck of dust or mould can cause a gap between the tape and the head resulting in a drop out of sound.
Continue reading ‘Mouldy Mayhem’ »
A major part of PARADISEC’s effort goes in finding and digitising audio tapes that record performance in the many small languages of the world. As discussed in a number of posts on this blog it is becoming urgent that these tapes are digitised while they are still playable. Of the tapes described in this earlier post about tapes from Madang in PNG, some are already so badly damaged by mould that they can’t be played anymore.
In order to find more tapes we run a survey http://www.delaman.org/project-lost-found/, that, unfortunately, has only ever had sixteen responses. We have managed to negotiate with these respondents to digitise five of their collections so far (see also the earlier blogpost ‘Where are the records?‘).
A more focussed way of finding out what recordings there are is by comparing what is published about a language with what primary records are listed as being in an archive. Assuming that someone doing fieldwork and writing a grammar of a language in the past fifty years must have made some recordings then the mission (should we choose to accept it) is to find those recordings.
Continue reading ‘Finding what is not there’ »
After some discussion between PARADISEC and the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PAMBU) we now have access to linguistic records in the PAMBU microfilm collection, either for tagging in the PARADISEC catalog, or as digital versions of the microfilm in the PARADISEC collection.
Kylie Maloney at PAMBU kindly made available a list of items in PAMBU that have linguistic content (about 70 items). I sent this list to linguists interested in this field and got a priority list from them. PAMBU then entered into negotiations with their depositors to allow the microfilms to be digitised and produced as pdf files for distribution via PARADISEC’s repository. Continue reading ‘Pacific Manuscripts now in PARADISEC’ »
Keeping track of what is recorded in the course of fieldwork is critical, both for your own future work and for longterm archiving. Recordings of dynamic performance (audio or video) are easy to misplace or misidentify and very difficult to locate once you forget what a file was named and what you recorded on a particular day. We ran a survey about how people record their metadata from January 21st to April 25th, 2016 and had 142 responses (see also the earlier blog post here). There were two multiple choice questions each allowing selection of more than one checkbox and the entry of free text responses. I can send the full results of the survey on request. This information will help inform the development of new tools for metadata entry. The responses are summarised below.
Continue reading ‘Results of the metadata survey’ »
It’s been a busy start to 2016 for PARADISEC. Nick Thieberger published an article about the race to preserve Pacific Language Records in The Conversation. New collections archived this year in PARADISEC include Danielle Barth’s Matukar Panau documentation from Papua New Guinea, Alan Walker’s Sabu materials from Indonesia, Lila San Roque’s Mnanki, Arso and Duna collections from Papua New Guinea and a large collection (RB5) from Roger Blench, containing a Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »
This week a suitcase of audio tapes will arrive in Melbourne from Madang in PNG. While a lot of the effort of building collections in PARADISEC goes in finding tapes and encouraging people to deposit their recordings, there are some collections that stand out for the amount of work required. This is the story of one of them.
Continue reading ‘Chasing John Z’graggen’s records’ »
We are working on a collection of tapes made by Mary Ayres, Ph.D. during doctoral research conducted between 1979 and 1981 in numerous dialects from two language groups in the Morehead District, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. At ANU we have started working on Don Kulick’s recordings of Gapun (PNG). In Sydney and Melbourne we are working to digitise tapes from the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, including some of Terry Crowley’s Paama tapes and Wolfgang Sperlich’s Namakira among many others.
In Melbourne we continue to work on Alan Walker’s Timor recordings and have a volunteer, Epi Dowling, scanning field notebooks. We are also working through Darrell Tryon’s tapes and will soon start on the last set of Ian Green’s recordings from the Daly region.
In Sydney we have just digitised Melissa Crowther’s tapes from Sandaun Province, Papua New Guinea of Barupu, Puare and Rawo language materials. PARADISEC is also providing expert assistance to a Linkage Project based at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, digitising important recordings associated with the Central Land Council. We have started with Petronella Vaarzon-Morel’s tapes recorded from the 1970s onwards, and are working with our Canberra partners, DAMsmart to digitize some unusual film and video formats.
During September we negotiated with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to assist in digitising their reel-to-reel tape collection. We now have 70 of their tapes in the queue, representing work done in Malakula and in Efate since the 1960s.
Zygmunt Frajzyngier deposited his collection of various African language recordings and they will be accessioned in the near future.
Hidden treasure in the collection
In this item, Tom Dutton is talking with Ken Pike who first coined the notion of ‘etic’ and ’emic’ analysis and who was the first President of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). This recording was made in 1962 about working with Australian languages. You can hear it here (once you are signed in to the catalog).
Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »
It has been a busy time for Paradisec over the last couple of months. We now have more than 5,100 hours of recorded material in the catalog and in 2 months alone have added 250GB of data, all of it representing digitised versions of analog tapes.
Recent work on the collection of 200 tapes from the Solomon Islands Museum is nearing completion but, as some tapes have required careful conservation work before being playable, the project has taken longer than expected. The collection was in urgent need of digitisation, not only because of the condition of the tapes, but also because little is known about the contents of the tapes. At least some contain material in Ririo – a language that has only a very small number of living speakers. The availability of digital files will allow the Museum to identify the contents of the recordings. We have also just finished digitising Nancy Carter’s 1960s recordings from the Solomon Islands and Bougainville that came to us two years ago. These three inch tapes were initially unplayable and needed special attention. They are now available online.
Continue reading ‘PARADISEC activity update’ »