Whitechapel Late

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Parallel Anthology

Parallel anthology cd front.png

Friday 30 July, 8pm - 11pm

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

An evening of music inspired by musicologist, record collector and artist Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. Simpson and White have collected parallel public domain versions of the anthology recordings not closed down by copyright - from non-attributed folk versions, to commercial recordings whose proprietary interests have expired. For this event musicians and producers have been invited to perform covers and remixes of Parallel Anthology for a night of plugged and unplugged performances.

Live Parallel Anthology sets by:

Leafcutter John
Karen Gwyer

Plus Open Music Archive out-of-copyright/copyleft DJ set

Free Parallel Anthology source CD gift was presented on entry.


The 1952 release of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music was a compilation bringing together a selection of Smith’s personal collection of 78rpm records. As such, it was effectively a bootleg and operated under the legal radar until it was digitised, re-mastered and fully licensed in 1997.

The recordings in the anthology are those from the early days 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 control the flow of this previously fluid cultural material.

The Parallel Anthology project aims to map the public/private territory of Smith’s anthology and to scrutinize different levels of access to the material – researching details of future dates when compositions will enter the public domain, sourcing alternative versions of recordings, and gathering together fragments of archive manuscripts and lyrics.

Parallel Anthology volume 1 begins the process of collecting together alternative versions of tracks and makes available a small selection of public domain versions not closed down by copyright. Future volumes will collect, publish and distribute recordings whose proprietary interests have expired, along with new versions and remixes of the material collected.

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 roots and future anthology, distributing rich material that remains open for use and reuse.



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


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photos by Sally Mumby-Croft

Source Files

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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)




Parallel Anthology lyrics


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.