First Things First!


If you’ve found this page, you’re likely looking for information about the HILR Study Group I’m leading this fall. I’ll be using this blog to post readings, music and links as well as my own thoughts on the Anthology and related topics.

I hope everyone who decides to participate will buy the Anthology. There’s a copy in the Dunlop Library, and the Lamont and Loeb Libraries at Harvard also have copies, but there’s no substitute for having one at hand. The music on the Anthology isn’t necessarily what most people think of as “folk music.” No Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie, no Joan Baez (although she covered 9 songs from the Anthology). This is old-time music, mostly recorded between 1927 and 1932. You’ll hear blues, church music, ballads and dances, murder ballads and novelty numbers. Eighty-four songs, carefully chosen and arranged from Harry Smith’s vast collection of old and often obscure 78 RPM records, and each time through will bring you new insights into the music and into the miracle Harry performed in bringing these songs together the way he did. You can get more information or place an order here, direct from Smithsonian Folkways. Use promo code ND-033108 and get a 20% discount, now through 7/31/08.

If you’re on the fence about whether to join our group, you might want to listen to Smithsonian Folkways’ podcast on the Anthology, here. Just download Episodes 4, 5, and 6 – each is an hour long and filled with musical examples as well as background on how the Anthology came to be.


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