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, 51 black and white
Status: Not Yet Published - Available for pre-order

Musics Lost and Found


This ground-breaking and highly readable book is the first-ever study of the role played in musical history by song collectors. It examines their extraordinary lives, how they set about their task, and the music they have collected. In showing the forces which have driven them to travel and explore, it reflects movements in cultural and political history. Michael Church begins with an overview of song collecting's development from the seventeenth century until the age of recording. He devotes major biographical chapters to Komitas, Cecil Sharp, Percy Grainger, Bela Bartok, and to John and Alan Lomax who collected work songs in Mississippi penitentiaries; he examines field recording in Russia, Central Asia and China. The development of recording technologies is chronicled, as is the dawn of ethnomusicology. Church follows the growth of the great sound archives - the Berlin Phonogramm Archiv and its counterparts in Vienna, London, and Washington; he looks at the role of the record industry - big in the mid-twentieth century, but now waning to almost nothing - in 'capturing' indigenous musics. This book is a piece of serious musicology by a man who has worked as a song collector himself, but his erudition is lightly worn. Church casts a critical eye over the so-called "world music" boom, and over well-meaning musical-conservation schemes, but he concludes with a stark warning. He argues that globalisation, urbanisation, and Westernisation are leading to an irreversible erosion of the world's musical diversity. Dying folk-music traditions mirror what is happening with spoken languages, as their multifarious richness dwindles to a few privileged and pervasive tongues. While noting that folk music still thrives in some parts of the world, Michael Church checks off the forms which are now under threat, and those which have already been lost.

MICHAEL CHURCH has spent much of his career in newspapers as a literary and arts editor; since 2010 he has been the music and opera critic of The Independent. From 1992 to 2005 he reported on traditional musics all over the world for the BBC World Service; in 2004, Topic Records released a CD of his Kazakh field recordings and, in 2007, two further CDs of his recordings in Georgia and Chechnya. He is the editor of The Other Classical Musics. Fifteen Great Traditions, published by Boydell in 2015.>

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