XXJaap Kunst Sound Collection

Curator: PL Barbara Titus

Importance: One of the world’s foundational ethnomusicological collections, both with regard to its materials and the methods of collection. Jaap Kunst (1891-1960) recorded music from the many islands of the Indonesian archipelago on hundreds of wax cylinders in the 1920s and 1930s. His collection also encompasses 6,500 photographs, 10,000 letters, silent film, publication manuscripts, and travel diaries.

Access hurdles: Kunst’s sound collection has been digitized but is not available online. His written and visual collection is organized, but only partly catalogued and not digitized. Kunst employed classification norms of the time. Hence, the recorded singers, speakers, ritualists and instrumentalists often remain anonymous sound specimens of distinct cultures as general and static entities.

Solutions: DeCoSEAS facilitates physical access to the collection on site [link to Fellowship]. It also selectively digitizes visual/textual materials for the aim of contextualizing sonic materials. These are presented online for crowdsourcing, data enrichment and expert community building [link to Digitization]. Thus, DeCoSEAS relates visual and written material to its sonic counterparts for the anonymized sound specimens to gain personhood.