Pagina's

21.11.12

Songhunters



do 22.11.12, 21 u.  ⌖  Op de Valreep, A'dam
Film LOMAX THE SONGHUNTER, Rogier Kappers, NL 2005

'Alan Lomax was a song collector. For a big part of his life, he travelled around the world with his recording equipment, hunting for the prettiest folk songs. Lomax recorded ordinary people, who gave their heart and soul in front of his microphone. In radio programmes Lomax warned us that we were squandering age-old music traditions at rapid speed.

The film maker Rogier Kappers visits Lomax one year prior to his death. He cannot speak with him anymore, because Alan has been brought down by a brain haemorrhage. Kappers decides to search for people Lomax recorded. He travels through Europe in an old Volkswagen. His journey leads him past desolate Scottish islands, through the withered interior of Spain and to isolated Italian mountain villages. Sometimes it's hard to find back people or music. On other moments he discovers true gems. Old farmers, day labourers, housewives and shepherds do the best they can to sing their prettiest song. The search is combined with conversations with colleagues and friends of Lomax. Throughout the movie, every now and then we return to a frail but happy 86-year old Lomax.
In this passionate and musical roadmovie we slowly discover why folk music can be so pretty and what could have once possessed the legendary Alan Lomax.'
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MUSIC MAP
'Alan Lomax (1915-2002) earned a singular place for himself in American culture and arts. Building on the pioneering work of his father, John, whom he accompanied on folk-song recording tours of the American South and Southwest in the 1930s and '40s, Alan set out after World War II to do nothing less than draw the folk music map of the world. Sensing that the world's indigenous music was on the point of being swept away by mass commercial culture, Lomax brought considerable energy and urgency to his awesome task. He also brought an infectious love for the varied homespun musical traditions, especially the songs passed mouth to ear for generations.'
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GLOBAL JUKEBOX
'Alle volksliedjes die Alan Lomax overal ter wereld verzamelde, zijn binnenkort voor iedereen beschikbaar op het web. Het volledige archief van de legendarische liedjesverzamelaar Alan Lomax komt online. De Global Jukebox moet het voor iedereen mogelijk maken om volksmuziek en dans van over de hele wereld te ontdekken.
Hij had de jukebox lange tijd als een bedreiging gezien. In de jaren dertig en veertig van de vorige eeuw vond musicoloog Alan Lomax het apparaat een gevaar voor "pure" volksliedjes, zoals blues, ballads en hillbilly. Maar aan het einde van zijn carrière, na bijna zes decennia van maniakaal liedjes verzamelen, noemde hij zijn laatste project de Global Jukebox. Daarop zou de wereld te horen zijn. De belangrijkste liedjesverzamelaar van Amerika kon zijn werk echter niet afmaken. Vanaf deze maand wordt het postuum voltooid. De ACE, die de nalatenschap van Lomax beheert, is begonnen met het online zetten van vrijwel al diens materiaal. Dat betekent dat meer dan 17.000 liedjes vanuit de hele wereld voor iedereen gratis beschikbaar komen, en ook opnamen van 156 talen waarvan sommige bedreigd, vele uren film, 5.000 foto's, honderden radioprogramma's, interviews en lezingen.'
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 → ♫ Roots and Boots (playlist)


HARRY SMITH
'Harry Everett Smith (1923-1991) was an American archivist, ethnomusicologist, student of anthropology, record collector, experimental filmmaker, artist, bohemian and mystic. Besides his films, Smith is widely known for the Anthology of American Folk Music, a compilation of recordings of American folk and country music commercially released as 78 rpm records between 1926 and 1932. The anthology was released in 1952 on Folkways Records as three two-LP sets. In 1997, the album was re-released as a boxed set of six compact discs on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. A fourth installment of the anthology, conceived of in the 1950s but abandoned, became available on Revenant Records in 2000.

This document is generally thought to have been enormously influential on the folk & blues revival of the 1950s and 1960s, and brought the works of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dick Justice and many others to the attention of musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and featured such legendary acts as The Carter Family and Clarence Ashley. The Harry Smith Anthology, as some call it, was the bible of folk music during the late 1950s and early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. As stated in the liner notes to the 1997 reissue, the late musician Dave van Ronk had earlier commented that "we all knew every word of every song on it, including the ones we hated."

Smith edited and directed the design of the anthology, including the cover art, which featured a Theodore de Bry etching of a monochord which Smith had taken from a mystical treatise by scientist/alchemist Robert Fludd. Smith also penned short synopses of the songs in the collection, which were made to resemble newspaper headlines —for the song King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O by Chubby Parker, Smith notes: "Zoologic Miscegeny Achieved Mouse Frog Nuptuals [sic], Relatives Approve."

Smith culled selections from his amassed personal collection of 78 rpm records, picked for their commercial and artistic appeal within a set period of time, 1927 to 1932. Smith chose those particular years as boundaries since, as he stated himself, "1927, when electronic recording made possible accurate music reproduction, and 1932, when the Depression halted folk music sales."

In addition to compiling, Smith also recorded music: Allen Ginsberg's (who he also lived with for a while in the 1990s) long player New York Blues: Rags, Ballads and Harmonium Songs released in 1981 was captured by Smith at the Hotel Chelsea in 1973. He recorded the first album by The Fugs in 1965, recorded and released a multi-LP set of Kiowa Peyote Meeting songs on Folkways, and, in the 1980s, recorded thousands of hours of "field recordings" for a project called "deonage."

Critical attention has been most often paid to his experimental work with film. He produced extravagant abstract animations. The effects were often painted or manipulated by hand directly on the celluloid. Themes of mysticism, surrealism and dada were common elements in his work.
Information especially about Smith's early films is very contradictory. This is partly due to the work-in-progress nature of experimental filmmaking. Films are often reedited (hence the different runtimes),and occasionally incorporate reassembled footage of different films sometimes to be viewed with varying music tracks. For instance, the handmade films now known as No. 1, 2, 3, and 5 were accompanied by an improvising jazz band on May 12, 1950 when they premiered as part of the Art in Cinema series curated by Smith's friend Frank Stauffacher at the San Francisco Museum of Art.'
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