PRESENTATION OF “THE WORLD’S JUKEBOX”
Dear readers (or should i say listeners) of this blog, I started “The World’s Jukebox” last year in parralel with my other blogs “Times ain’t like they used to be” and “The Old, Weird America” to present some tracks of ethnic and regional music from all around the world that i enjoyed. As my other blogs are oriented mostly toward american music, i felt the need also to share my interests in other musical traditions as i was discovering them through records or on the web. Like for american music,what i enjoyed the most was music recorded during the Golden Age of phonograph records, between the two World Wars, when many musical traditions weren’t yet altered much by mass media culture and commercial motivations. During this period, a vast amount of traditionnal and regional music was recorded all over the world, as record companies of the time were trying to sell records to every cultural group in the United States and abroad. Despite the obvious commercial motivations, they experimented a lot, went to the most remote areas to find singers and musicians and captured on wax incredible performances of traditionnal music.
For the modern listener, to appreciate the beauty and importance of this records, apart from collecting vast amount of 78rpm records yourself, we have many cds issued in the last 20 years by independant record companies such as Yazoo, Rounder, Arhoolie, Smithsonian/Folkways, to name a few. They make an excellent job reissuing the music on thematical cds, often in close collaboration with record collectors and specialists who write sometimes interesting liner notes about the music itself and the cultural contexts that shaped it.
Another important sources for the lover of traditionnal music are the field recordings. Made by folklorists, ethnomusicologists or just adventurous music lovers, they tried to capture the music as it was originally performed, in homes, at work or in social meeting places (weddings, churches, ballrooms, etc…). Often, it gives a more direct and intimate feel, the performances can be longer than in the three minutes format of the 78 discs (Some performances of Indian or African music for example can last hours…) and it can include talking, background noise, all that giving the recording a more documented aspect than the studio recording.