Archive Inventory

Completing a detailed inventory of the Montreux Jazz Festival archive consisting of 14’000 tapes in 18 different media formats over 50 years. The audio and video charts below illustrate this evolution visually.

The inventory process consists in assigning each tape in the Montreux Jazz Festival archive a bar code and each concert a unique reference key. This task is necessary to identify the concerts recorded on each tape as well as the media format on which the recording is contained.

All reference keys are linked to entries in the Montreux Jazz Digital Project database where information about each tape and its content is stored. The unique reference key is a 13 character key. The first half of the characters reveal information about a particular concert and the second half relates to the media used to record that particular concert.



Frequently during the Montreux Jazz festival, concerts were captured with different types of audio-visual recording technology. Therefore, many copies (such as copy A, B and C) of the same concert recorded on various media formats can be found in the archive. If a concert exceeded the amount of time available on a tape, multiple tapes were used to record one concert. Thus in the archive, a single concert could be recorded on multiple tapes and divided into separate parts (such as part 1/3, 2/3 and 3/3).

In addition, different concerts were sometimes recorded on the same tape to reduce total cost of tapes purchased at the time of recording. As a result, the second time-consuming part of the inventory process is ensuring that each reference key assigned to a concert corresponds to what is actually recorded on the orginal tape.   To achieve this task, every tape in the archive must be manually checked and properly labelled. Inventoried magnetic tapes stored in the Montreux Jazz festival archive are then dispatched for digitization.

At a later stage, as part of the song indexing process, all digitized video and audio content is merged to create complete, coherent  performances. As part of the new photo digitization project, an inventory of 80’000 photos will also need to be completed.