Library of Congress Adds Diverse Recordings to National Registry

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Library of Congress Adds Diverse Recordings to National Registry
Every year, the Library of Congress adds 25 recordings to its National Recording Registry. This year, the registry added wildly diverse music, including pop, bluegrass, opera, jazz, Broadway, blues, classical, and punk. It also added voice recordings from President Dwight Eisenhower and a journalist covering the D-Day landings.

Here are examples of some of the recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry. Discussion ideas follow.

Pop: Saturday Night Fever (Bee Gees)

Bluegrass: Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s (Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson)

Opera: Einstein on the Beach (Philip Glass and Robert Wilson)

Jazz: The Audience with Betty Carter (Betty Carter)

Broadway: South Pacific (Original Cast)

Blues: Hoodoo Man Blues (Junior Wells)

Classical: Piano Concerto No. 1, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (Van Cliburn)

Punk: Ramones (Ramones)

Broadcast: D-Day Invasion (George Hicks, CBS Radio News)

Discussion Ideas:

  • The 2013 inductees to the National Recording Registry are very diverse, from contemporary opera to disco, from Voice of America analysis to speeches about the space race. Can students think of musical genres or artists that are not represented? (There are a lot! Hip-hop, New Age, electronic dance music, country, Latin, etc.) Please check to the full registry to see if any genres or artists may have been represented in previous years!
  • Every year, the National Recording Registry adds 25 “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” American sound recordings to its collection. These can include individual songs; entire albums or other collections of music; nature recordings; comedy, poetry, or drama performances; sports coverage; news broadcasts; or speeches. The sound recordings must be at least 10 years old. The earliest recordings include Thomas Edison introducing the phonograph, while the newest recordings are from Nirvana and Tupac Shakur. If students were choosing inductees for the 2023 National Recording Registry, who would they choose—what artists do they think are making “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” music today? (This writer’s choice.) Are there any speeches or news events that students would add to the registry? (Students may suggest a broadcast covering the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center, the historic election of President Barack Obama, etc.) Why?
  • This recording, of the classical singer Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, is already part of the National Recording Registry. Read through our “media spotlight” of this recording, including discussion questions about the event’s historic importance. What “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” value do students think this concert offers?

Note: We’re experimenting with a new feature here on the NG Education Blog. “Current Event Connection” posts will connect educators with news stories and relevant discussion ideas featuring content from the NG Education website. 

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