Hello Friends far and near I hope you are well in all ways. If you are living in the Pacific Northwest, it is around this time of the year that the lack of sunshine induces one to think that chewing off one’s arm is the only way to cope. This is also the time that any sliver of sunlight causes the Northwest native (or not so native) to strip down to the bear minimum of clothing to absorb as many crepuscular rays as possible. Cope well and please don’t chew off your arm.
On another less carnivorous note, January 31 was the birthday of American music ethnologist Alan Lomax, who collected over 17,000 folk music field recordings following the footsteps of his father John Lomax. His collections can be found in the Library of Congress and are also available online. The Lomaxes’ work influenced the American folk scene of the 50’s and 60’s. They also opened the doors for world music to reach the ears of the the mainstream American public. You can find those recordings here.
Preservation is not a quality that is appreciated in our culture. We grow impatient for the new and shiny and shudder at the old or not apparently useful. We hear of cultures, species, and languages that are gone. No record, just gone, held only in memory. And when it comes to sound, a very ephemeral medium, there are sounds that are extinct, either because the technology and curator were not there to capture them or they simply were not considered valuable.
We are surrounded with sound nowadays. Phones ping and whistle, Muzak and music cut through any potential silence, video screens at the gas station murmur as we pump our gas. We spend a lot of time blocking out rather than collecting intentionally.
If you were Lomax senior or junior what sounds would you capture in today’s world? What songs would you save from extinction?