Parallel Anthology

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Background

Parallel anthology cd front.png Parallel anthology map.png

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 digitised, re-mastered and fully licensed by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in 1997.

The recordings featured on the anthology are from the beginnings of the record industry, a time which saw the establishment of a system that fixed collectively-authored folk lyrics and melodies to individual authors in an attempt to profit from controlling the flow of this previously fluid cultural material. Many of the songs featured on the anthology originate from the English folk tradition – passed on from one generation to the next while lyrics and melodies mutated as they travelled across the globe.

The Parallel Anthology project aims to collect together alternative versions of these folk songs – to collect, publish and distribute recordings, lyrics and music whose proprietary interests have expired, along with contemporary versions and remixes of the material collected. A body of research has already been undertaken: alternative public domain recordings, lyrics and music score collected. A number of remix and cover versions have already been recorded at project launch events at ArtSpace Sydney and at The Whitechapel Gallery by Meem, Leafcutter John, Karen Gwyer, Lucky Dragons, Beatrice Dillon and Patten.

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.

Audio

<swf>http://www.openmusicarchive.org/xspf_player/xspf_player.swf?playlist_url=http://www.openmusicarchive.org/xspf_player/parallel-anthology.xspf&repeat_playlist=true&autoplay=true</swf>

sound file Karen Gwyer - Uncle Rat Went Out To Ride 8.4Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sound file Leafcutter John - Our Goodman 7.1Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sound file Leafcutter John - No Sir 9.1Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)

patten recordings coming soon . . .

Live sound engineering by Richard Johnson

Downloads

Uncle Rat Went Out To Ride (The Frog And The Mouse)
sung by Elizabeth Cronin
Recorded 7 August 1948 County Cork, Ireland

Our Goodman
sung by Thomas Moran
Recorded december 1954 Mohill Leitrim, Ireland

The Devil (The Farmer’s Curst wife)
sung by Jimmy White
Recorded 9 june 1954 Whittingham, Northumberland, England

The Cuckoo
sung by Bill Westaway
Recorded 26 may 1952 Belstone Devon, England

What Shall I Wear To The Wedding John?
sung by Aunt Fanny Rumble/Albert Collins
Recorded 6 October 1954 Tilshead, Wiltshire, England

No Sir (Oh No John!)
sung by Emily Bishop
Recorded 13 October 1952 Bromsberrow Heath, Herefordshire, England

Parallel Anthology events

Friday 30 July 2010, 8pm

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX

Live Parallel Anthology sets by:

Leafcutter John, patten, Karen Gwyer


Superdeluxe@Artspace
The Gunnery Building
43–51 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Sydney Australia

with Meem

Saturday, 15 May 2010
7.30 pm – 12 am
FREE

Images

Whitechapel-late-01.jpg Whitechapel-late-02.jpg Whitechapel-late-03.jpg Whitechapel-late-04.jpg Whitechapel-late-05.jpg

photos by Sally Mumby-Croft

Source Files

sound file Uncle Rat Went Out To Ride (The Frog And The Mouse) 2.2Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Elizabeth Cronin
Recorded 7 August 1948 County Cork, Ireland

sound file Our Goodman 3.1Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Thomas Moran
Recorded december 1954 Mohill Leitrim, Ireland

sound file The Devil (The Farmer’s Curst wife) 3.8Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Jimmy White
Recorded 9 june 1954 Whittingham, Northumberland, England

sound file The Cuckoo 1.6Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Bill Westaway
Recorded 26 may 1952 Belstone Devon, England

sound file What Shall I Wear To The Wedding John? 4.8Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Aunt Fanny Rumble/Albert Collins
Recorded 6 October 1954 Tilshead, Wiltshire, England

sound file No Sir (Oh No John!) 3.4Mb MP3 (right-click/ctrl+click to download)
sung by Emily Bishop
Recorded 13 October 1952 Bromsberrow Heath, Herefordshire, England

full res audio files available soon (email infoATopenmusicarchiveDOTorg for more info)

Video

<videoflash>WrAiBbyrGtA</videoflash>

Lyrics

Parallel Anthology lyrics

Credits

Parallel Anthology project was launched on the occasion of the 17th Biennale of Sydney

Researcher: Matthew White

Thanks: James Smith, Rebecca Page, Meem, Alyssa Moxley, Leafcutter John,patten, Karen Gwyer, Richard Johnson, Lucky Dragons

Recordings gleaned from BBC gramophone collection: 11989, 17794, 18678, 20606, 21493, 22029

Parallel Anthology CD duplication made possible through MIRIAD: Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design.