Collection highlight: New voices, old technology
The NFSA and the Stiff Gins break new ground by recording contemporary music on 19th century wax cylinder technology.
Sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.
The NFSA collection includes the Australian Jazz Archive and National Register of Jazz Interviews.
These 78 rpm sleeves tell a story about the history of the Australian music industry.
Listen to songs celebrating Australian cities and towns.
Australian aviation pioneers are celebrated in popular songs.
How many versions have you heard?
About the Sound Collection
The audio recordings in the NFSA collection span almost 120 years of recording sounds in Australia and cover a wide range of recording subjects and formats. The NFSA’s earliest recordings were made in Warrnambool, Victoria on wax cylinders in 1896 and the most recent was probably downloaded this morning from a performer’s website.
Our recordings include music in just about every possible style, from popular Music Hall singers of a century ago to the current chart hits. There are political speeches, poetry readings, nature recordings of lyrebirds, frogs and crickets, historical events and experimental recordings as well as steam trains from every corner of the country.
The collection includes nearly 120,000 unique disc recordings and around 30,000 tape recordings as well as second and third copies in many cases. There are almost 16,000 vinyl LPs and about the same number of 7-inch singles, 13,000 78rpm shellac discs, 5,000 one-off lacquer records and 20,000 CDs. The physical sizes of the discs range from two examples of a 3.5-inch (9cm) plastic coated cardboard record that came with a children’s book to several 20-inch (50cm) lacquer recordings made of the proceedings of the Tasmanian Parliament.
There is an ongoing program of digitising fragile and ‘at-risk’ physical formats and almost 20,000 recordings on disc and tape have been preserved in this manner. Several hundred are available for listening through our online Search the Collection.