CTMD logo Archives


CCI Programs
Touring Artists
ew Routes

The Archive of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance documents and preserves the research and performance projects of the organization. The archive contains a collection of audio and video tapes, photographs and printed matter documenting 35 years of folk, ethnic and immigrant performing arts traditions of cultural communities in New York City from the founding of the Center in 1968 to the present.

The materials in the Archive include audio and video in multiple formats, and paper records of more than 500 performance events. Over 950 performing artists are from world wide cultures and traditions are documented in performance and in some cases, through numerous interviews and transcriptions. In 1997-98, the Center began cataloging the Archive through a Documentary Heritage Program grant from the New York State Archive and Records Administration. Support from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Foundation made possible the creation of a digital archive of the at-risk analog audio collection and more recent digital recordings.

The collections, which reflect the focus of the Center’s research and programs over thirty years of operation, are described as follows:

Balkan Arts Center (1968-1981):  The organization focused on performing arts of communities from the Balkans, Eastern and Southern Europe. Collections from this period were assembled by Center staff members and some were acquired by donation. These include an extensive collection of 78 rpm recordings of Serbian folkdance music; home audio recordings made by tamburitza musician George Skrbina; production material for the 1977 film The Popovich Brothers of South Chicago [Available on video cassette] and a series of field recordings of Bulgarian songs made by Martha Forsyth, 1980-81. Also included are recordings, photographs and printed matter from major programs of the period.

Ethnic Folk Arts Center (1981-1998): The organization expanded its focus, as well as the number and frequency of its programs. The Center produced several audio recordings, including the Epirot Greek Halkias Family Orchestra, Jewish klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras Music for the Traditional Jewish Wedding, the first album of Cherish the Ladies, recordings of Irish-American women, the Irish Fathers and Daughters album, the Puerto Rican Jíbaro/Bomba and Plena album, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Mi Tierra Natal, with Conjunto Melodía Tropical and Los Pleneros de La 21, and the Smithsonian Folkways release of the Bukharan Jewish Ensemble, Shashmaqam [All of these recordings are available for sale]. The Center also coordinated major tours of Shashmaqam and Cherish the Ladies, as well as other tours with Greek and Italian musicians. Many of these performances were documented through audio recordings. In addition, the Rhythms of New York concert series, held at the New-York Historical Society (1990-1992) resulted in two concert video productions of Los Pleneros de la 21 and Music from China, both of which are available from CTMD. In addition the Center produced an hour-long video documentary about ethnic music and musicians in the United States, The Spirit Travels: Immigrant Music in America, narrated by Linda Ronstadt.

Other documentation from this period includes recordings, photographs and printed matter of major multicultural festival events, including the Spring Folk Festival (1969-1977), the Winter Folk Festival (1969-1985), the Queens Ethnic Music and Dance Festival (1976-1991), the Salute to Immigrant Cultures, a three-day festival in celebration of the Statue of Liberty Centennial, (1986), and the Folk Parks Festivals (1993-2000) and the New York World Festival (2002 and 2004).

Finally, the Community Cultural Initiatives projects (1990-present) offer a wider range of documentation, including field recordings, interviews, audience evaluations, and complete program audio and video recordings. These materials document performance traditions of the following cultures: Albanian, Arab, Dominican, Asian Indian, Mandeng West African, Indo-Caribbean, Former Soviet Jewish, Filipino, Mexican and Peruvian. A tape of the second Festival Shqiptar, Albanian Festival, is available on video cassette as well. Four of the Community Cultural Initiative programs have been taped for inclusion in the Jerome Robbins Archive of Dance at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. These programs are the Mandeng/West African Niani Badenya (1997), the Indo Caribbean Kitchrie (1998), the second West African Community Cultural Initiative program, Badenya ’98 and the First Mano a Mano Mexican program of 2001. Copies of these video recordings are also housed in the CTMD archives.

Global Beat of the Boroughs: Since 2001, the Center has released three CD albums on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings: A 2 CD Compilation of 20 cultures on 33 tracks of both traditional and innovative interpretations by many leading artists (2001); Badenya: Manden Music in New York City (2002), documenting leading West African artists from Guinea, Mali and the Gambia; and Quisqueya en el Hudson: Dominican Music in New York. (2004) The archive contains all the master recordings and documentation about these projec

Material in the CTMD archive is available to interested academic researchers, the media, artists, community members, and arts programmers. Searches are done through a request to CTMD staff and can be viewed by appointment only.

Database: All of the artists, events and archival materials are catalogued in a searchable archival database. With support from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance is upgrading and updating the database to allow for searches on site, by appointment.

For further information about the archive call:
(212)571-1555 x 26

Archival Links

New York Folklore Society - Archives

NY State Archive / Documentary Heritage Program

Alan Lomax Archive

American Folklife Center

Archive of Traditional Music

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive

World Music Central Music Archive Page

List of Artists

coming soon.