Since its founding in 1969 at Yale University, Oral History of American Music (OHAM) has been dedicated to the collection and preservation of the voices of the major musical figures of our time. The project captures musicians’ narratives and reflections in their own words through in-depth interviews. With an ever-expanding collection, OHAM is a living archive, currently comprising approximately 3,000 audio and video recordings. We regularly conduct, catalogue, and transcribe interviews with emerging talents and established artists, producing a wealth of primary and secondary source material accessible to musicians, students, scholars, arts organizations, and the media.
OHAM provides access to interview recordings and text transcripts for personal research use, teaching, and educational purposes. Free online streaming access to most OHAM original audio recordings is available. Digital copies of most transcripts are also available at no charge. A limited number of acquired materials are also digitized and/or transcribed, and are available for access.
In accordance with Yale's Web Accessibility Policy, accessible versions of OHAM’s materials can be provided upon request. The time required to prepare these accessible versions will vary.
Researchers wishing to publish or broadcast OHAM materials are responsible for obtaining direct authorization from copyright holders. Generally, the interviewees or their estates hold the copyright.
The purpose of this guide is to help researchers discover the musical figures represented in our collection and to learn about the contents of individual interviews, in order to determine what material you would like to access. Here you will find information about the history and content of each of OHAM's original collections, which are as follows:
Major Figures in American Music
Paul Hindemith Oral History
Charles Ives Oral History
Aaron Copland Oral History
Duke Ellington Oral History
Steinway and Sons Oral History
Yale Student Composers Oral History
Each collection page lists the interviewees, with links to transcript tables of contents when available.
You can also browse our acquired collections, a limited number of which have been digitized and/or transcribed and are available to researchers.
Once you have determined what interviews you would like to listen to and/or read. The mode of access currently differs depending on collection.
Major Figures in American Music: To request any material from this collection, click here to fill out a request form. A staff member will fill your request by uploading the material you requested to the Box file-sharing platform. You will receive an invitation from Box to access the material. If you are not on the Yale network, you may be prompted to set up a free Box account. You will be able to stream audio for 30 days (download of audio is prohibited) and to download transcript PDFs. We ask that you limit your requests to 20 interviews.
Other original collections: All available material from other OHAM original collections (Ives, Hindemith, Ellington, Copland, Steinway, and Yale Student Composers) can be located through Archives at Yale. Once located, recordings for most interviews can then be streamed online via OHAM’s AV Access System, Aviary.
Access to Aviary from Archives at Yale is provided by clicking on the OHAM logo provided for an interview. See this example.
Users on the Yale network (either on campus or on the Yale VPN) will then be able to simply play back the interview recording in Aviary.
Users not on the Yale network should follow the steps outlined in this video to gain 30 days free access to interviews.
If you would like transcripts of any of these interviews, click here to fill out a request form and a staff member will provide you with any available PDFs for download.
Acquired collections: Click here to fill out a request form for material from any acquired collection. Please note that only a limited number of acquired interviews are digitized and/or transcribed, and some may not be currently available. A staff member will contact you with information.