Global Sound Movement: Working with communities around the world to preserve and share vulnerable music heritage

Global Sound Movement (GSM) is a non-profit organisation and research project led by Phil Holmes and Paresh Parmar. The project aims to identify, record and archive musical instruments built by indigenous communities from areas of social or economic need around the world.

These recordings are digitised, stored, sampled and sold to the international music community, with all monies generated being donated to the original instrument makers and their communities. Having travelled over 65,000 miles, GSM have currently conducted research projects in Uganda, Cyprus, Bali, China, Croatia, Gibraltar and Morocco.

GSM is concerned with cultural preservation through audio archiving of musical instruments and performance spaces of significant importance to individual indigenous tribes and communities. This combined with the development of new music technology designed to disseminate these research findings ensures that new audiences engage with these musical cultures, preserving this unique heritage. In 2016, GSM were awarded the Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.

The project has financially contributed to education programmes across Uganda, social development and community projects in Indonesia, and assisted agricultural initiatives in Southern China. International musicians and sound designers that engage with the GSM sound libraries have developed new techniques and instrument pairings, creating new works only made possible through GSM’s research. Following an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and the BBC World Service, visits to GSM’s website increased and currently stands at 65,000 unique visitors. The website has sold over 2,000 downloadable products. In 2019 a conference presentation by Parmar in Beijing, China was streamed live and viewed by 3.8 million viewers via WeChat. BBC One commissioned a short film about the GSM project hosted by Mark Radcliffe and included the acclaimed guitarist Aziz Ibrahim, associated with the Stone Roses and Paul Weller in 2020.

"I got such a buzz out of meeting the GSM guys. The work they've put into what is a fascinating and vital resource and archive is truly admirable. Perhaps in these challenging times of climate change and Coronavirus our futures will involve considerably less travel and so it makes it even more important that these sounds have been preserved before it's too late. Thanks to their work we will have access to these sounds for the rest of time"

Mark Radcliffe, Radio 2

Research team