The Global Jukebox

By Samir Shukla

The legendary musicologist Alan Lomax spanned the globe and recorded myriad forms of music from around the world. Tribal chants, folk music, healing chanting, classical music, traditional songs as well as other forms of human expression were all part of his gathering over several decades. This past April much of his recorded catalog was released online as the Global Jukebox. There is much to explore on the jukebox already, yet work still remains to get more of his work online. Lomax was a musician, archivist, speaker, writer, and field recordist, among other hats he wore during his illustrious life. The Jukebox is a labor of love that is the culmination of Lomax' work. This is more than just a collection of music. Specialists and tradition keepers have given the work a studied backdrop. The project is meant to be enjoyed as a listener, but also to educate via historical, ethnographic and other means into musical and dance traditions from around the world.

According to the website, “The Global Jukebox is dedicated to our remote ancestors, to our parents, grandparents and teachers, and is a gift offered to present and future generations-a gift of sound, movement, and growing knowledge. It honors the expressive traditions of all peoples, and the cultural diversity that enriches us as individuals, and is crucial to our common survival as a species. The Global Jukebox was conceived by Alan Lomax, whose dream was to reach audiences from all walks of life and all countries. The Association for Cultural Equity, the not-for-profit entity Lomax founded in 1983, is bringing the Jukebox to fruition with new knowledge, tools, and technologies. The Jukebox is a means of exploring old and contemporary forms of music, dance, conversing, phonating and phrasing; and of finding out how our shared preoccupations as culture members may reveal themselves in song and poetry. As an expanding, interactive website, the Jukebox aspires to be a resource for teachers, students and scholars, and a source of data and ideas for scientists."

Myriad examples of world's music, dance and other expressive behavior are now available on the jukebox, neatly organized under two sections. The “Map View" offers songs organized by geography and the “Tree View" presents songs organized by culture.

There are many selection from the Indian Subcontinent covering India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh including tribal chants, folk music, classical music, and more.

The jukebox is a work in progress. In the near future if visitors want to create their own libraries of songs, metadata, and keep their own notes on the site, the jukebox promises to make this possible. Lomax intended his work to serve both as a medium for scientific research into human expressive traditions and as a tool for arts and education.

For details visit

Samir Shukla is Saathee's editor.