Musics Lost and Found: Song Collectors and the Life and Death of Folk Tradition [Hardback]

Michael Church(Author)

ISBN: 9781783276073 | Published by: Boydell Press | Year of Publication: 2021 | 272p, H9.25 x W6.25, 51 b/w.
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

Musics Lost and Found


This is the first-ever book about song collectors, music's unsung heroes. They include the Armenian priest who sacrificed his life to preserve the folk music which the Turks were trying to erase in the 1915 Genocide; the prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who secretly noted down the songs of doomed Jewish inmates; the British singer who went veiled into Afghanistan to learn, record and perform the music the Taliban wanted to silence. Some collectors have been fired by political idealism - Bartok championing Hungarian peasant music, the Lomaxes bringing the blues out of Mississippi penitentiaries, and transmitting them to the world. Many collectors have been priests - French Jesuits noting down labyrinthine forms in eighteenth-century Beijing, English vicars tracking songs in nineteenth-century Somerset. Others have been wonderfully colourful oddballs.

Today's collectors are striving heroically to preserve endangered musics, whether rare forms of Balinese gamelan, the wind-band music of Chinese villages, or the sophisticated polyphony of Central African Pygmies. With globalisation, urbanisation and Westernisation causing an irreversible erosion of the world's musical diversity, Michael Church suggests we may be seeing folk music's 'end of history'. Old forms are dying as the conditions for their survival - or replacement - disappear; the death of villages means the death of village musical culture.

This ground-breaking book is the sequel to the author's award-winning The Other Classical Musics, and it concludes with an inventory of the musics now under threat, or already lost for ever.

Table of Contents


Why it all began
1 From broadsides to Child ballads: Songs of the British people
2 Orientalists from France: Jesuit priests in Beijing, Salvador-Daniel in Algiers
3 Going native in Constantinople: Dimitrie Cantemir, the happy hostage

The birth of ethnomusicology
4 The Song of Approach, the Pipes of Friendship: Alice Fletcher and the Omaha Indians
5 'I am now a true Eskimo': Franz Boas and first principles
6 Voice of Armenia: The tragedy of Komitas
7 Britain's folk-song revivals, and the contentious Cecil Sharp
8 'I in seventh heaven - Perks': The ineffable Percy Grainger

Carrying the torch: Collectors in Northern and Eastern Europe
9 'And what does the gentleman want': Béla Bartók as song detective
10 Girdling the globe: The empire of the Lomaxes
11 'I am a white-skinned Aranda man': Theodore Strehlow's divided self
12 The stirring of a thousand bells: Jaap Kunst, Colin McPhee, and gamelan
13 Hot mint tea and a few pipes of kif: Paul Bowles in Morocco
14 A voice for Greece: Domna Samiou's crusade
15 Things that are made to cry: John Blacking and the Venda
16 Record companies as collectors: Folkways, Smithsonian, Nonesuch, IMA, Ocora, World Circuit, Topic, Pan, Muziekpublique

Musical snapshots: The importance of sound archives
17 Magic in two strings: Central Asia awakes
18 Red badge of courage: Musicians in Afghanistan
19 Out of the womb of Russia: Riches awaiting rediscovery
20 Three-in-one: The Georgian way
21 Small is beautiful: Pygmy polyphony
22 It's a physical thing: A Persian musician relocates the radif
23 Plucking the winds: Chinese village music today
24 Voice, handkerchief, fan: New life for Korea's p'ansori
25 'My whole body was singing': Kodo and the taiko drum
26 'Intangible cultural heritage': UNESCO's lengthening list
27 Going, going...: disappearing musics

Sources and further reading

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