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The Syliphone archive

Wednesday 27 January 2016, by SIGNIS

Conakry, Brussels, January 27th, 2016 (RadioAfrica/Graeme Counsel/SIGNIS). The British Library has officially launched the Syliphone archive, a collection of nearly 8,000 songs from the archives of Radio Télévision Guinée. The songs are now available to listen to online at the British Library Sounds website (click on “Africa” and then click on the Syliphone logo of the elephant).

The recordings were archived between 2008-2013, with Endangered Archives Programme funding, and the collection contains the finest recordings made in Guinea. The songs date from 1960, with the bulk recorded during the era of Guinea’s 1st Republic (1958-1984).

A highlight of the collection is the complete Syliphone catalogue of vinyl recordings. Between 1967 and 1983, the Guinean government released 160 vinyl discs (33.3 and 45rpm) on their home-grown label, Syliphone, and this is the first time the complete collection of all 750 songs has been available to the public. The Syliphone vinyl catalogue was believed lost, and Endangered Archives Project funding enabled it to be gathered, preserved and digitised.

The archival collection also features thousands of songs which were carefully transferred from their original reel-to-reel magnetic tape to digital format. These songs were recorded in the Voix de la Révolution studios in Conakry, and they encompass the entire spectrum of Guinean music.

This material provides a fascinating insight into Guinea’s cultural policy of Authenticité, whereby musicians were paid by the government and encouraged to create new “modern” styles of African music. The songs also span Guinea’s Cultural Revolution, launched in 1968, and thus reveal the role of the government in the arts during the era of President Sékou Touré.

For further information on the archive see this blog at the British Library website or this website.

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