In 1961, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the series of UNESCO Traditional Music Collection in collaboration with Alain Daniélou who directed the series, and the International Music Council (IMC). Indeed, Alain Daniélou was personally in charge of recording the musics and his activities was mainly in the 1960s and 1970s. The UNESCO Collection was composed of several subseries of recordings published on LP vinyl records (produced, published and distributed by different labels and companies): Musical Sources; Musical Atlas; A Musical Anthology of the Orient; An Anthology of African Music; An Anthology of North Indian Classical Music.
From the beginning of the 1990s, most of these recordings were reissued on CD by the label Auvidis, which later became Naïve. In 2009 UNESCO established a new partnership with Smithsonian Institution to make more than 100 albums of the Collection spanning more than 70 nations on every continent available to the general public. This project for the first time has made these recordings, including 12 previously unreleased albums, available on CD, digital download, streaming services, and library subscription.
The UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music stands as one of the earliest achievements of UNESCO’s programme for safeguarding and revitalizing intangible cultural heritage.