collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

The artist that you're listening to or are in love with, they were usually listening to three or four people within the framework of the style they were in. What you're essentially tryin' to do is play every giant of country blues's music as well as them, every song, in every style. Impossible! Give it up! - Jerry Ricks, Port Townsend 97

Author Topic: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music  (Read 10101 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2694
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 07:52:44 AM »
It's been a long time, but one thing I remember is that it opened up a whole new world with respect to the breadth and depth of music that was out there. The Anthology in itself seemed almost overwhelming at the time, and then it dawned on me that it was just the tip of the iceberg. Forty years ago the amount of music available and accessible on the reissue labels was relatively limited compared to what has become available since then, so one could only guess. How times change.

The thing about anthologies is that they always bear the stamp of the compiler. As Lyle points out, the AAFM is one of those compilations on which nothing seems out of place. Add something or subtract something or change the sequence and the entire universe somehow becomes misaligned. Such is the way of all great works.

Offline orvillej

  • Member
  • Posts: 70
  • Bama-Lama Bama-Loo- Little Richard
    • orvillejohnson.com
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2011, 10:55:23 AM »
when I was 16-17 and still in high school, I used to go to the college library (Southern Illinois U) and listen to records as I was too short on funds to buy them all. They had little tables with built-in turntables and headphones. I received a lot of education there about blues, old-time music, bluegrass, etc., and that's where I first found the Anthology. This was 1968-69. The Dock Boggs stuff stuck in my head. I'd never heard anything like that!

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2694
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2011, 04:39:02 PM »
For those with JSTOR access:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/40243455

I've been poking around the S-F site trying to find the "Supplemental Notes to the Selections" that were available in the past (my printouts are dated 2002). I have the URLs as I printed them out, but now they're all dead links.

I ran Cantwell's essay and my printouts of the AAFM "Supplementary Notes" through the scanner and saved them as PDF files. If anyone would like copies, send me a PM with your e-mail address and I'll send them to you as attachments.

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2118
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2011, 06:03:47 PM »
Years ago Smithsonian Folkways used to have a contest on their website and you could win CDs by answering questions, and I remember I won an album by answering: "Who was the last surviving artist on the Anthology?" I'll see who can get it first, no CD, sorry.
Chris

Yank/James

Yup.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11059
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2011, 06:57:41 AM »
Hi all,
One thing I've realized in the course of listening to the Anthology is that it is like a tutorial in the different approaches that can be taken in playing rhythm guitar, or "playing time".  The guitarists are all over the map in the techniques they use, to the extent that the basic "boom chang" accompaniment that has become the norm is hard to come by in the performances.  Present-day players could do well to study some of these approaches, the following of which seem to stand out to me this morning:
   * Alfred Steagall's work behind Kelly Harrell on "Charles Guiteau" and "My Name is John Johanna" is stellar, and on "John Johanna" especially, is such an inventive and original accompaniment that it colors the whole rendition.  On "Charles Guiteau", the band quiets down to give him a solo.
   * The rhythm guitarists for Floyd Ming's Pep Steppers on "Indian War Whoop" and for Blind Uncle Gaspard on "La Danseuse" treat the guitar almost like a tenor banjo, just whanging down on full chords with no "boom" at all, or differentiation between treble and bass.
   * Jim Baxter, backing his uncle Andrew (I think that's right) on "Georgia Stomp" is so sneaky with his syncopated bass runs out of F in standard tuning.  It's a treat to hear how the two of them played together.
   * For an unfigureoutable rendition, listen to Bill and Belle Reed's "The Old Lady and the Devil". The guitar starts out with a fairly standard thumb-popped bass "boom" and three "changs", for "boom-chang-chang-chang" or "one down and three up".  As the song goes along, the guitar abandons that regular accenting pattern and goes into a free-form shifting between boom-chang, boom-chang-chang, and boom-chang-chang-chang, throwing the accenting of the time all over the place so that it sounds like it's flipping over upon itself.  Add to this the fact that Bill completes the rendition and then goes back and re-sings earlier verses to the ballad more or less at random, and you wind up with a one-of-a-kind performance.  The recording engineer must have been signaling to Bill, "KEEP GOING!"

Anyhow, the treatment of rhythm guitar and the time-keeping function is one of the many things you can focus on and learn from as you listen to the Anthology of American Folk Music.
All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: May 26, 2012, 11:22:36 PM by Johnm »

Offline Lyle Lofgren

  • Member
  • Posts: 245
    • Lyle & Elizabeth Lofgren
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2011, 07:45:22 AM »
Good point about rhythm guitar, johnm. It's especially interesting, because someone once told me that Vol. 4 (I had a tape of it long before Revenant published it) was supposed to be about "Rhythm." Yet, the first 3 were about rhythm, too, a statement that is apropos but incomplete. The collection is n-dimensional where (to quote my old college math teacher), n is a large positive integer. I hear more every time I listen to it.

Lyle

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2694
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2011, 10:50:56 PM »
There was a book of transcriptions done in 1973 by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim and published by Oak.

Here's the link to the OCLC page (you'll have to plug in your own zip code):

http://www.worldcat.org/title/anthology-of-american-folk-music/oclc/871646&referer=brief_results

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1905
  • Howdy!
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2011, 02:31:32 AM »
There was a book of transcriptions done in 1973 by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim and published by Oak.

Here's the link to the OCLC page (you'll have to plug in your own zip code):

http://www.worldcat.org/title/anthology-of-american-folk-music/oclc/871646&referer=brief_results

Thanks Stuart. And thanks to everybody on this thread, I'm waiting for the mailman to deliver the Anthology.

I noticed that the musical transcriptions Stuart mentioned sell starting from 200 dollars up on Amazon!  :o
So I was very happy to find that the book can apparently be viewed online for free:

http://towerofbabel.com/sections/music/troubadours/anthology/

Cheers

Pan

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11059
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2011, 11:19:40 AM »
Hi all,
One of the things that I noticed in the course of listening to the Anthology is how many songs and tunes, from a variety of traditions, employ pentatonic scales for their melodies.  If you think of a "parent" major pentatonic scale, it consists of the following notes:
    I    II  III  V   VI   I
   Do -Re-Mi-Sol-La-Do
A couple of things about the structure of the pentatonic scale:
   * If you look at the notes from the major scale that are not included in the pentatonic scale, IV (Fa) and VII (Ti, or Si in Europe), they are both "rub notes", that fall in places in the major scale where there is a semi-tone, or 1/2 step between adjacent notes.  By eliminating IV and VII from the pentatonic scale, those "rubs" are similarly eliminated.
   * While the notes of the scale are confined to Do-Re-Mi-Sol-La, the way that pentatonic melodies are harmonized may employ the notes of the major scale that have been eliminated from the pentatonic scale.  So it is that when you play a V chord, it includes the VII note of the scale as its third, even though that note is not in the scale upon which the melody is based.  Similarly, the harmonization of a major pentatonic melody may use a IV chord, even though the IV note is not in the scale. 
   * One of the most interesting things about pentatonic melodies is how they are harmonized, and what chords you put behind them.  The II note, Re, may be harmonized as the fifth of a V chord, the root of a II minor chord, the II of a I chord, or the VI of a IV chord.  All of these harmonizations of the II note can be found in this music.

Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford's version of "Willie Moore" on "Volume One, Ballads", is an example of a beautiful pentatonic melody that hangs a lot on melody notes that are not the root, third or fifth of the underlying chord, which in this instance is a I chord, since the duo play the song as a one-chorder.  The melody of the song and how it sits relative to the lyrics are as follows:
   I    I      II     II   III     V      V     III     III  II      I     III    II    II  III    V     V     II            I    II
   Willie|Moore was a   | king, his  | age, twenty-| one, he  |courted a   | damsel | fair    |     Oh her |
      III     II     I       I      VI VI      V    V     V   VI       I       III    II III II     I      V    VI      V 
   | eyes were as | bright as the| diamonds of the |  night, and | wavy    |black was her | Hair

The melody in the first line works its way up to V and back down to II.  The downbeat of the form coincides with the word "Moore" so the melody lands strongly on the II note.  In the second line of the melody, beginning with "bright", the melody descends down to V from I, emphasizing VI on the way down and the way back up, and after ascending to III, works its way back down to V for the end of the verse.  So the song has a range from V below Do to V above Do and never resolves back to Do.  It makes for a very distinctive sound, and the melody sure sticks in your head.

Another notable pentatonic melody from the Anthology is Floyd Ming and his Pep-Steppers' "Indian War Whoop", from "Volume II, Social Music".  Ming had a Mississippi string band, and they had a really wild sound.  The song has a very trancey feel and sound.  It's opening section, which is the most memorable part of the tune and a sort of refrain works as follows.   It is in 5, which makes it odd to begin with.  I wish I could do rhythmic notation, but I'll put a count above each measure.
      1  +  2  +-a  3 + 4  5     1 + 2  +--a 3  4   5
   | II  II  II III-II I  V VI----| II II II III-II I  V-----|

This is all harmonized with the I chord whanging away behind the melody, and like the melody to "Willie Moore", it very strongly emphasizes and lands on the II and VI notes.  If you don't have the Anthology and have never heard it, you might have seen it performed in the Coen Bros. movie, "Brother, Where Art Thou?", in which it is performed near the end when the mob has tarred and feathered the gubernatorial candidate and is marching down the town's main street with John Hartford and David Holt playing the tune.
If you want to hear how these tunes sound, you can just plug the scale degrees into the notes of a C scale and try them out.  There are plenty of other tunes and songs in the Anthology that employ a pentatonic scale (Henry Thomas' "Old Country Stomp" and "Fishing Blues" among them), but "Willie Moore" and "Indian War Whoop" seemed like especially interesting ones.

Here is Burnett & Rutherford's performance of "Willie Moore":





















Here is "Indian War Whoop":


All best,
Johnm     
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 03:24:33 PM by Johnm »

Offline misterjones

  • Member
  • Posts: 232
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2011, 07:42:22 AM »
There is also a volume 4 released by Revenant:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Smith%27s_Anthology_of_American_Folk_Music,_Vol._4

There's also a set called "The Other Anthology of American Folk Music", which was inspired by the official Harry Smith collection.  It is surprisingly good and not too hard to find (for free) on the internet.

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2694
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2011, 08:12:58 AM »

There's also a set called "The Other Anthology of American Folk Music", which was inspired by the official Harry Smith collection.  It is surprisingly good and not too hard to find (for free) on the internet.

http://woodenmouth.blogspot.com/2010/02/va-other-anthology-of-american-folk.html

And once again:

http://oldweirdamerica.wordpress.com/

http://theanthologyofamericanfolkmusic.blogspot.com/

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11059
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2011, 09:44:04 AM »
Hi all,
Under normal circumstances, I avoid cults of personality, but in the instance of Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music, I feel as though any other anthology, even though utilizing the same kind of musical material, that did not have the benefit of his guiding aesthetic with regard to songs selected and even the sequencing, as Lyle mentioned earlier in the thread, is just not the same.  The kinds of deep connections with which the Harry Smith Anthology abounds just seem to be absent from other such anthologies, even excellent ones like the Old Hat releases.
I think it's great the people talk about the Anthology elsewhere on the Web.  Let's talk about it here.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 12:07:54 PM by Johnm »

Offline misterjones

  • Member
  • Posts: 232
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2011, 10:03:53 AM »
Its influence on a young Bob Dylan is not only well-documented but obvious.  I forget from whom he stole the record - he lifted quite a few albums in his early days - but his early informal recordings drew heavily from the Smith LPs.  He performed the songs live now and then for many years thereafter - at least as late as 1976 - and he revisited a few in his 1992-93 solo acoutic albums.  I wonder if he still has his copy.  I doubt he ever returned it.  (It would make for quite a charity auction if he still has it.)

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2694
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2011, 11:41:38 AM »
Hi John:

I agree with you 100%. It's as if the AAFM is an extension of part of Harry's worldview and vision manifested in his selection and sequencing of the music. Someone wrote somewhere that he planned to do content analysis at some point, but never finished it--or perhaps never got around to it. There are many facets to explore in the collection and the process and context in which it came into being.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 11059
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2011, 12:31:45 PM »
Hi all,
Bascom Lamar Lunsford's version of "Dry Bones" is on "Volume II--Social Music".  Lunsford was an attorney, from Asheville, North Carolina, I believe.  He accompanied himself on the banjo out of G tuning.  He had kind of jumpy, lively time.  The verse to the song is almost chanted--it hangs around the I note a lot with lines starting on the VI below and the III above.  The melody to the refrain is exceptionally pretty, and is once again in the pentatonic scale, like so:
   I    II         III    V    V    V      III    II   I     I     VI   V   VI I    II    III
   I |saw,       I  | saw the light from Heaven, a- | shinin' all around, I   |
         V    V     V     III    II    I     I     VI   V      VI    I         I
     | saw the light come shining, I | saw that light come down

In addition to working so well on banjo, this tune could work really nice in Spanish or open Bflat with a thumb lead, a la Maybelle Carter.

   Old Enoch, he lived to be three hundred and sixty-five
   When the Lord came and took him back to Heaven alive

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, a-shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw that light come down

   Oh when Paul prayed in prison, them prison walls fell down
   The prison-keeper shouted, "Redeeming love I've found."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   When Moses saw that-a burning bush, he walked it around and around
   And the Lord said to Moses, "You's treadin' Holy ground."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   Dry bones in that valley got up and took a little walk
   The deaf could hear and the dumb could talk

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

   Adam and Eve in the garden, under that sycamore tree
   Eve said to Adam, "Uh, Satan never tempted me."

   REFRAIN: I saw, I saw the light from Heaven, a-shinin' all around
   I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

Here is Lunsford's performance of "Dry Bones":



All best,
Johnm

   





 
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 03:19:43 PM by Johnm »

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal