Welcome to Public Syncopations, an exhibit featuring public-domain jazz, ragtime, blues, and dance music recordings held at the Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) at Stanford University. In addition to serving as a public portal for listening to these historic sound recordings, Public Syncopations includes pages with special features, accessible by clicking on Curated Features above.

One page highlights discs that were issued with multiple takes [performances] of the same piece, giving you the opportunity to make a side-by-side comparison. On another, we included a few discs of the same take [performance] created with different stampers, in case you want to put on your critical listening ears to decode how wear on a given disc or stamper can affect audio quality. Another page reflects the historical importance of the Black Swan label, creating access to all the ARS’s Black Swan discs. (For more on the founding of Black Swan, the biggest early Black American-owned record label, check out the excellent Radiolab documentary, The Vanishing of Harry Pace.)

To see and listen to the entire collection, click on the Browse button, which you’ll find at the top of any page in the exhibit.

Black Swan Label

This exhibit was made possible by the generous support of the Charles D. and Frances K. Field Fund.