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Using Alexander Street Press Music Audio Resources

How to search and browse in ASP's audio resources. Including: Music Online, American Song, Classical Music Library, Contemporary World Music, Jazz Music Library, and Smithsonian Global Sound.

Browsing in Contemporary World Music

Browsing in Contemporary World Music

Contents: Categories, Albums, All People, Cultural Groups, Ensembles, Genres, Instruments, Labels, Places.

One of the ways that you can look for music audio in Contemporary World Music is to use the Browse function!

The Categories

This has many different categories that you can use to locate items and they include:

Albums, All People, Cultural Groups, Ensembles, Genres, Instruments, Labels, Places.

Which of the categories that are most useful will depend on what you are looking for!

If you are looking for a specific person the "All People" will probably be the most useful.

If you are looking into the music of a certain area "Places" could be very useful, as well as looking into the "Instruments," "Genres," and the "Cultural Groups" categories.

If you already know the album or the song that you are looking for "Albums" might be helpful (although the choices for titles are sometimes odd with this particular database).

If you are looking for a particular instrument type or groupings of instruments, "Instruments" or "Ensembles" could help.

Finally, after you have decided what category to browse in, you can use Filters to help narrow it down!


The Browse by Albums can be useful if you already know the name of the album that you are interested in (although be a little cautious because sometimes the title is not what you would expect).

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All People

Browsing by All People is a nice feature to use when you know the name of a composer or person who you are interested in.

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Cultural Groups

Cultural Groups is a nice category to browse when you want the music of a particular culture.

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The Ensemble Browsing feature is good if you know the name of the group that you are interested in. The only negative about using this feature is that this index does not allow you to spell out the group's name for quicker access, you pretty much have to browse through the list (although it does let you jump to areas in the alphabet).

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Genres Browsing is straight forward.

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Instruments is a fun area to browse, the only tricky thing about navigating this area is figuring out the terminology that is used in identifying which instrument family that the instrument of choice is in (although the labels have a visual example which is helpful).

When you want to browse inside a category you need to click on the word to get the subcategories.

The last thing to keep in mind is to make sure to check the subcategories under the instruments, even if it seems like the instrument of interest is available directly from the top categories.

There are seven categories Aerophones, Chordophones, Electric, Ensemble, Idiophones, Membranophones, and Vocalizations.

Aerophones are basically wind instruments like: Flute, Oboe, and even going to more unusual instruments such as the Didjeridu.

One odd thing that you need to remember when browsing is that some of these categories have sub-categories, so for instance if you are curious about the Didjeridu, then you need to browse under the "Pipe, drone" category.

Another important thing to remember is that this type of browse will probably not get you all the results that are available. For example, is you just click on the "Oboe" category you might only get a few results, but if you look under the "Double reed" category you might notice even if you just do the "Oboe" subcategory you have already increased your results tenfold.

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Chordophones are pretty straightforward after you know that all it means is string instruments like violins, violas, banjos, zithers, etc. This another category where it is important to look at the subcategories under the instrument names. Like with the oboe example, looking at viola in the high category only gets a handful of hits, where if you look at viola under the "violin" category (which seems slightly odd) the number of results is quite a bit higher.

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The Electric category includes instruments like the theremin, electric piano, tape, etc.

Remember to browse under the big categories!

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The Ensemble category is for instrumental groups like string quartets, wind quintets, orchestras, gamelan, viol consort, etc. The "Ensemble" subcategory has the best selection of individual types.

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There are two categories that relate to percussion instruments: Idiophones and Membranophones.

Idiophones are basically all the percussion instruments that can be melodic like bells, marimbas, although it does also include a couple of things like steel drums and foot stomping as well.

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Membranophones are basically limited to the drum category of instruments.

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The last category is Vocalizations and this includes any vocal types of singing including voice types like bass, soprano, spoken language, yodeling, etc.

"Vocal, Part" is where the voice types are located, "Vocables" include some other types of singing like yodeling, etc. One thing to remember is that not all types of singing are included here. For example, if you were interested in "Tuvan Throat Singing," this does not seem to be included in this category, however if you do a basic search for those keywords, then the database does contain quite a few tracks with this type of singing.

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Places is a great tool to use to get music of a certain place...

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Labels could be useful to browse if you know a particular label that only does one type of music. This is not the most convenient way of browsing labels because the database does not allow you to search for the label name.

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After you have done your basic starting search, using the "Filters" at the right hand side of the results screen can be really helpful in narrowing your results to a more manageable size.

One thing to be aware of is that the filter options are sorted by number of results in the database, so if you know that you want a particular instrument then you might want to use a "find" search on the page to locate the name after clicking on the filter (in this case "Genre") and "More..."

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Content compiled/Written by G. D.