Wednesday, February 1, 2012

About the REAL ethnomusicologist

I recently wrote a parody post of the typical biography of some forgotten blues musician, including the obligatory part where some guy from up North comes down to the South to record the blues genius.

Well, the New York Times reports on efforts to disseminate the work of one of the REAL field recording pioneers, Alan Lomax. Perhaps Lomax never recorded Boney Eyes McGee, but he didn't do too badly:

[H]is vast archive [included] some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts....

Starting in the mid-1930s, when he made his first field recordings in the South, Lomax was the foremost music folklorist in the United States. He was the first to record Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, and much of what Americans have learned about folk and traditional music stems from his efforts, which were also directly responsible for the folk music and skiffle booms in the United States and Britain that shaped the pop-music revolution of the 1960s and beyond.

The Times noted that the Cultural Equity website is expanding is online collection; soon Lomax's entire collection will be available in digital form, for streaming or for online purchase.
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