Alan Lomax’s controversial “cantometrics” study of folk music worldwide, begun in 1959, was an early use of quantitative data and digital technologies (punch cards) to study vernacular music and culture. Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, created in 1952 for the famous Folkways label, offered a different mode of research: a whimsically annotated, quasi-mystical collection of rare American folk, blues, and ethnic commercial recordings from the 1920s and 30s. As two distinctive sonic and informational conceptualizations of how to organize musical traditions, these “proto-digital” projects offer valuable lessons for thinking about the representation of folk music within contemporary digital humanities research, particularly when it comes to assembling and interpreting what a digital archive can be and do.
Additional material below.
Friday, March 8, 2013, 12-2pm.
Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities Conference Room, Kresge Hall, 1880 Campus Drive, #2-360, Evanston, IL 60208 (map: http://maps.northwestern.edu/#latlngz=42.051%2C-87.675%2C17&lookupid=116).
SLIDES AND TEXT OF TALK:
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More on The Berkeley Folk Music Festival and the Digital Study of Vernacular Music Project at www.bfmf.net.
Alan Lomax’s Global Jukebox Demonstration Video (1998):
A Cantometrics coding card:
Armand Leroi, “The Song of Songs” – Evolutionary biologist uses data from the Global Jukebox Project (video, 2007).
Cover of liner notes booklet to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952):
The rest of the liner notes are here.
Gadaya’s “Old Weird America”: an online study of the Anthology of American Folk Music.
Drew Christie’s “Some Crazy Magic: Meeting Harry Smith”: short animated film about John Cohen meeting Harry Smith:
Excerpt from documentary film about the Anthology of American Folk Music (From The Harry Smith Project: The Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited):
Alan Lomax’s Association for Cultural Equity.