Parallel Anthology: Folktronic reimaginings of ethereal public domain recordings
August 23, 2011
— art music, contemporary music, education, electronic music, installation art, instrumental music, listening, literacy, media, music, music education, music theory, software, sound, sound art, steven speciale, teaching
From the website:
“The project takes as its starting point the 1952 release of artist, filmmaker and musicologist Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. The legendary album was a key influence for the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s and is subsequently enshrined in popular music mythology. The anthology was a compilation bringing together a selection of Smith’s personal collection of 78rpm records from the 1920s and 1930s. As such, it was effectively a bootleg and operated under the legal radar until it was digitized, re-mastered and fully licensed by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in 1997.
Parallel Anthology explores processes of sharing and participation which persist from the peer-to-peer oral folk tradition to today’s digital social networking technologies. The project re-envisages Smith’s anthology as a series of nodes in a larger network and employs a kind of sonic virology – tracing songs across spatial and temporal distances. A parallel collection is proposed: a new collectively authored multimedia roots and future anthology, generating and distributing rich material that remains open for use and reuse.”
Wonderful musicians like Leafcutter John, whose software I have used for several years now, have contributed some wonderfully inventive re-imaginings of folk songs. LJ has contributed two. Live recordings may be found by clicking on the images below.
According to LJ, “For the first tune I stuck a contact mic onto a hi-hat and played it with my hands, a bow, and a vibrating Cappuccino foamer. The sound of the contact mic is fed to max where it goes through a plug-in i’ve been working on which can make chordal clouds of sound.”
“For the second song I used a wooden box with a contact-mic inside it. The outside of the box has lots of sound making things attached to it. For the show I attached a very brilliant music box which is programmable using punched cards. I transcribed the melody of the original song, punched it out and again fed all the sound to my max patches which were used here to re-arrange the original melody.”
Picture links to original and remix
I am going to use this project to expand upon an assignment from last year. Inspired by Tom Nunn’s Skatch Boxes, my classes made boxes connected to Pure Data patches.
If I can find enough DIY Music Box kits, I will use the “Folk Song re-imagining” structure to teach notes, transcription, and transposition while simultaneously building electronic/electroacoustic music skills.