Public Domain Cultural Jukebox

Alan Lomax, in 1992. As computer technology progressed, Lomax envisioned a searchable database for music from around the world. Credit G. Paul Burne

Some say music is the earliest communal art form, and one that continues to connect us. The inclusiveness of Alan Lomax’s vision with the Association for Cultural Equity and the Global Jukebox carries that inspiration further, with interactive features that connect the dots between music, culture and geography, paying “tribute to the expressive styles of all peoples within the framework of cultural equity and the diversity which is crucial to our survival as a species.”

Alan Lomax Recordings Are Digitized in a New Online Collection

Alan Lomax made it his lifelong mission to archive and share traditional music from around the world. He spent decades in the field, recording heralded artists like Muddy Waters and Woody Guthrie, as well as far more obscure musicians, from the British Isles to Haiti. He also created systems to classify this music and explore the links between cultures.

Lomax died in 2002, but the organization he founded, the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), is hoping to further his research with the Global Jukebox, a new online database. The project, an interactive website, allows users to listen to and learn about more than 6,000 songs from 1,000 cultures — including many from Lomax’s personal collection.

The website, organized by map and by culture, is free to use. The wide-ranging samples were digitized from hard copies at the Library of Congress and include 1978 field recordings from the Kullu culture in Himachal Pradesh, India; harvest songs from 1954 Romania; and a ballad to John Henry from Asheville, N.C., in 1941, recorded by Lomax.

Lomax envisioned this sort of database as computer technology progressed in the 1980s. He began work on a “global jukebox” to store thousands of songs and dances, cross-referenced with anthropological data. “The modern computer with all its various gadgets and wonderful electronic facilities now makes it possible to preserve and reinvigorate all the cultural richness of mankind,” he said in a 1991 interview with CBS.

More links available in the full article here.

One thought on “Public Domain Cultural Jukebox

  1. Pingback: The Global Jukebox Is Live! | Zing Blog

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