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Published: 16 December 2012

By Andy Ross

It starts with language...

It is Sunday morning and while I am waiting to go out on a carol singing spin around the islands, I am looking at the internet and catching up on the news. This report about languages in New York from the BBC website caught my eye. As a singer, language is very important. I love the way different language sounds reflect the place they come from, and I am very lucky to be able to gather the sounds and make them sing.

One of the songs we sing in the women's choir I run is a love song, Pokarekare Ana, sung here by Marie Te Hapuku, written with Maori words. It is one of the most well-known songs from New Zealand and is full of beautiful harmonies and words. I have bought some books of songs from the islands and cannot wait to give them to my choir to sing...

A few years back, we visited Chilean Patagonia. There we saw images of the Selk'nam people that I remembered seeing in a set of Time Life books that we had at home. I started looking for music from these people and eventually came across the Smithsonian Folkways website which I have recently rediscovered. What an amazing resource this is! Sounds from around the world which record the very last of the people who spoke some languages, and the sounds that surrounded them. So, I have Smithsonian Folkways Radio turned up and am taking an armchair journey around the world.