Ethnographic Musical Instruments

The Ethnographic Musical Instrument collection consists of approximately 600 instruments. There are 325 pre-Columbian clay instruments and figures showing musicians from west Mexico. The collection was formed by Peter Crossley-Holland (1916-2001), a musicologist and composer who was also a pioneer in the study of ethnomusicology. It is among the world’s 10 top collections of ancient pre-Columbian musical objects and is one of the University’s most valuable cultural assets.

The instruments come from all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Mexico, North America, India and Tibet. There are double hornpipes, shell scrapers, goat bells and membrane whistles from Spain; a bird whistle and clappers from Germany; a Iroquois bark rattle from north America; a sliding rattle and a snake-charmer’s pipe from India and a hand bell from Cambodia.

The collection is stored in the School of Music and is not at present accessible to members of the public, although it may be possible to arrange access for researchers.