Alan Lomax Archives Now Online


There is a great interview with Francis Ford Coppola from 1991 where he sort of predicts YouTube by hoping that, with new technologies, the difficult art of movie-making will become so easily doable that "some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart." Alan Lomax was ahead of Coppola, in that he believed the fat girl already was Mozart, but he didn't necessarily envision the specific means of distribution. With the free, online launch of his 60 years of Lomax's recordings of folk musicians across the globe, that wide access they both envisioned is a reality. As NPR reports, thousands of the unparalleled folklorist's recordings of interviews, songs, stories, etc are now available for listening online. They are readily searchable by artist, country and, most interestingly, genre ("pig castrator's song," "sword dance," "murder ballad.") Lomax's recordings made possible the idea of world music before it was a marketable concept, and, more crucially, he recorded sounds and concepts that would otherwise have gone unheard. Digital life, with the documentation of everything at all times, may make Lomax's work seem blasé, but its visionaries like him that give us the ability to feel that way now.

Alan Lomax Archives Now Online