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British Library Sound Archive - West African Recordings



Selection and mix by Andrea Zarza. Thanks to Janet Topp Fargion for her ideas and to all the recordists for agreeing to have their recordings shared on NTS. The programme is dedicated to all of the unnamed performers who appear in the recordings. One hour of unpublished ethnographic field recordings from the British Library Sound Archive. All the recordings were made in West Africa by British anthropologists and sound recordists as early as 1909 on formats ranging from wax cylinder, reel-to-reel tape, cassette and DAT tape.

You can check out a full detailed breakdown of the tracklist here.

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  • Xylophone music, unnamed performer - Recorded by A.V. King, in Nassarawa, Jos (Nigeria), 1962
  • Lasana Mané playing ebalei / balafon, Sadaga Sané  on ebalei / balafon and unidentified female singers - Women's songs with ebalei (Recorded by Giles Swayne on 14 January 1981
  • Solo unaccompanied ‘Ora flute’ alternating with male speaking unknown language - Recorded by Thomas Northcote Whitridge in Nigeria 1909
  • A well in dry season - Recording made by Alison Redmayne near Zinder, Niger on 14 February 1974
  • Bubu music from Tasso Island. Unnamed performers - Recording made by Dennis Furnell on Tasso Island, on 24 January 1991
  • Rock gong recording - made by William B. Fagg in Jarawa, Nigeria, 1965
  • Rock gong recording - made by Anna Craven in Pikworo Slave Camp, Upper East Region, Ghana,on 26 September 2007
  • Tuareg night watchmen talking together and playing the pipe - Recording made by Alison Redmayne near Zinder, Niger, 28 February 1974
  • Men: Sonkai Wrestling songs - recorded by Giles Swayne on 13 January, 1982
  • Jarawa harp piece, unnamed performer - Recorded by A.V. King, in Nassarawa, Jos (Nigeria) 1962