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ARSCLIST  August 2013

ARSCLIST August 2013

Subject:

Re: Laura Boulton

From:

David Lewis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 10:55:48 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (93 lines)

Thank you, Matthew, although this raises some questions on my end. Although
RCA Victor dubbed their release from Boulton's uncoateds, the sound is
quite excellent if distorted at points.
When Folkways reissued "African Music: Rhythms of the Jungle" in 1950 they
really made a hatchet job of it; the tape is a half-step too slow (probably
because the turntable was off-pitch)
and the sound -- while resonant and lifelike on the RCA Victor release --
is sonically dead on the Folkways LP, muddy and indistinct. I have been
meaning to tell our friends at Smithsonian
that their custom CDR is made from a substandard source and deserves an
upgrade; the only thing stopping me really is not wanting to be
misunderstood or the desire not to run up against
prickly sensitivity on such matters.

Boulton's original discs from the Straus Field Expedition are at LoC; there
are 464 of them according to Columbia University's internal finder. I
suspect very few have ever had access to this
material apart from the 12 selections -- which are, in part, combinations
of excerpts -- issued on RCA Victor/Folkways. The link to the CD-ROM
provided states that "a prototype was available"
but does not state that it was actually released. Is there a link to the
product? And I suspect the audio on the CD-ROM would consist of mp3s mainly
designed to support the visual material.
In any event it would constitute a different gathering from Boulton's
collection than  "African Music: Rhythms of the Jungle" would represent.

I consider  "African Music: Rhythms of the Jungle" an important
release because it was one of the first instances were ethnographic field
recordings were issued by a major label to the general
public. von Hornbostel's "Music of the Orient" was earlier, but those were
recordings made in a regular recording studio of touring groups, not
"field" recordings like Boulton's. As the discs as
issued are excerpted -- an unfortunate convention for
commercial exploitation of ethnographic recordings nonetheless observed
into the early 1960s -- what I would like to see is a release that
includes the full takes of the selections in RCA Victor P-10 and a
selection of relevant additional material as it may survive, transferred
from the original discs with the benefits of current
technology. I feel that is in every way desirable and I do believe that
there would be a demand for it if it became available. You can go back
further with African music than Boulton, but once
you do you're getting into cylinders which have limitations in many
respects. Boulton's 1934 recordings are the first reasonably hi-fi field
recordings we have of African drumming, I feel.
You don't encounter a lot of drumming on the cylinders.

David N. "Uncle Dave" Lewls
Cincinnati, OH




On Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 9:19 AM, Barton, Matthew <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> RCA only licensed these recordings for release. They had nothing to do
> with Boulton's original field recording expedition in 1934, which was
> largely financed by the philanthropist Sarah Lavanburg Straus, as in the
> "Straus West African Expedition" referenced on the cover of the album.
>
> There are numerous references to Boulton using Presto equipment in her
> 1930s and 1940s fieldwork, though I haven't seen one that describes the
> 1934 expedition in particular that mentions Presto. She might cover it in
> her autobiography "The Music Hunter." Also, about ten years ago, Indiana
> University released a CD-ROM devoted to the 1934 fieldwork: "Music and
> Culture of West Africa: The Straus Expedition." Straus was the
> philanthropist Sarah Lavanburg Straus. There's more information here:
> http://www.indiana.edu/~rcapub/v21n3/p08.html. It seems like a pretty
> comprehensive package, and may include information or better photos of
> Boulton's recording gear.
>
>
> Matthew Barton
> Library of Congress
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Roger Kulp
> Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 11:35 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Laura Boulton
>
> RCA record equals RCA equipment. Roger > Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:28:42
> -0400> From: [log in to unmask]> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Laura Boulton> To:
> [log in to unmask]> > Thanks for all of your hard work, Dr. B, in
> checking out that photo> and all of those fine leads to Laura Boulton
> images! I have known the> image of her from this album 40 years, but never
> thought to look for> another one with recording equipment. On the 1934
> expedition that> produced this set alone she cut 464 discs. So I guess it
> wouldn't be> unusual for her to be seen with recording equipment!> > David
> N. Lewis> Cincinnati, OH
>

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