Rare recordings of traditional Scottish music made in the north-east the best part of a century ago are to be digitally preserved.
The British Library’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is a major £18.8 million sound preservation and access project which has seen the formation of the first ever network of 10 sound preservation centres, including one at the National Library of Scotland.
The project, which received a £9.5 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, is looking to digitally preserve music made in Aberdeenshire from as early as the 1940s up to the 1980s.
It is hoped the UK-wide partnership of institutions can preserve half a million of the nation’s most rare and at-risk sounds and share them as widely as possible.
Reel-to-reel tape recordings from the John Junner Collection, recently donated to Live Life Aberdeenshire’s Museum Service, were selected as one of the Scottish beneficiaries.
The full collection comprises musical instruments, recording and playing equipment, and music recordings on wax cylinders, tapes and cassettes.
Schoolteacher and musician Junner (1919 – 2009), from Strachan, was interested in the production and reproduction of sound and recorded many local musicians.
David Cook, sub-committee chairman of Live Life Aberdeenshire, said: “We are delighted to accept this unique collection of local and national significance into the permanent collections of Aberdeenshire Council Museums.
“While the recordings are in good condition, they are threatened by physical degradation and some are stored on formats that can no longer be played.
“Being part of this national initiative will ensure some of our local recordings of Scots music will be digitally preserved and available to folk at home and abroad for future enjoyment and learning.”
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Alastair Hardie, one of the trustees acting on behalf of the late John Junner, said: “In his will, John Junner asked for his collection to be kept ‘at a suitable location in north-east Scotland’.
“Ten years after his death, his wish has finally been fulfilled with this donation.
“Having the collection in the care of Aberdeenshire Council Museum Service will help to ensure the long-term wellbeing, development and accessibility of the John Junner Collection for posterity.”
Dr John Scally, Scotland’s National Librarian, said: “Our sound heritage is under threat as tapes, minidiscs and lacquer, vinyl and shellac discs degrade or equipment to play them becomes obsolete.
“This is a vitally important project that will help to save the nation’s sounds and preserve them to be enjoyed for many generations to come.”
Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, said: “The British Library is the home of the nation’s sound archive and we are delighted that this funding will help us preserve our audio heritage for people to explore and enjoy.”