I couldn't agree more that we should all be out there sharing as many good
practices as possible. I also agree that many of the existing resources are
buried or unknown to different groups. I'm all for the idea of seeing ARSC
join in the fun of training and getting resources out to the general and
special interest publics. I really just wanted to include a little
historical context to the conversation.
One issue I'd like to see addressed at a higher level, however, is the fact
that many organizations doing similar things (IASA, ARSC, AMIA, OHA, AFS,
AES, SAA Recorded Sound, FIAT/IFAT, ICA SUV, etc.) are notoriously
uncoordinated in their efforts around similar topics. There is much overlap
among the memberships of these organizations, and therefore room for
partnerships and coordinated efforts. At the end of the day, among these
organizations there is a relatively small community interested in audio and
audiovisual management and preservation. If we continue to speak in the
splintered fashion we do now, we will continue to have diminished voices in
the wilderness of society. If we work together more often and speak as one,
then of course we'll have a louder voice—a stronger signal against the
noise. Training is a very opportune topic that could be coordinated among
many organizations as a common activity. Perhaps the leadership of these
many organizations could use general topics such as training on how to
create and manage sound recordings as an entry point towards building
stronger collaboration in the future.
Bertram Lyons, CA
AVPreserve | www.avpreserve.com
American Folklife Center | www.loc.gov/folklife
International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives |
On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> Hi Bert:
> I'm not saying ARSC "should step in and solve" any "issues." What I am
> saying is that we could help spread tips and good practices suggestions for
> amateurs. I'm sure there are plenty of weighty tomes hidden away on dense
> websites somewhere, but this stuff probably isn't getting read much. I'm
> suggesting ARSC can take a user-friendly approach, and make stuff
> accessible via modern means (YouTube, social media, informal "meet-ups",
> etc). The over-riding ethos should be KISS (keep it simple, stupid).
> If this is some sort of "controversial notion" vis-a-vis ARSC official
> business, then OK perhaps some of us individual ARSC members who care about
> the issue can self-organize and do some of this on our own.
> By the way, although there may well be plenty of outreach and information,
> I get calls all the time about archives of bad-recorded lossy digital
> audio. "What can we do about it?" "They recorded this at 64kbps MP3 and
> it's full of artifacts and noise," etc. Or, "we had a guy with a cassette
> machine who loaded this into the computer at 64kbps WMA, and now we'd like
> to do some signal-processing on it." So, the problem is still very real.
> The latest bad trend is using lossy low-quality cellphone video as a
> collection device (audio-wise, this is usually worse than an early-era
> digital audio recorder at 64kbps MP3). The worst thing is, parameters can
> be tweaked in many cellphones, and videos can be extracted
> native-resolution, they don't have to be uploaded super-lossy and then
> deleted. It's just a matter of relatively simple training for the
> non-technical. Those of us comfortable with technical gear and gadgets
> always underestimate how difficult this stuff is for a normal civilian to
> properly use.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Bert Lyons" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 1:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Asch vs Lomax
> Hi all --
>> I would like to add to the conversation here that this is in no way a new
>> idea. People and organizations since at least the 1960s have been working
>> hard to develop standards (both documentation and technology) for doing
>> fieldwork that results in original real-time documentation (audio, video,
>> film). For sure there are many examples of oral histories and field
>> recordings that were done poorly, but there are a substantially more
>> examples of high-quality recordings in archival collections nationwide.
>> Without real data, it's a bit pre-mature to suggest we need to mount an
>> immediate effort to train all the supposedly incapable field workers out
>> there making recordings for research and for posterity. It's a bit unfair
>> to the many many researchers who have taken the time to learn about audio
>> (or video) capture.
>> The American Folklife Center has offered such training and provided free
>> resources for decades:
>> OHA, as well as the Oral History in the Digital Age project, do much work
>> in this field. IASA has multiple resources available to support
>> international efforts at improving understanding of recording techniques.
>> The list, I'm sure, goes on. So while I agree this is a continued need,
>> let's please not think of it as a new and grand issue that ARSC should
>> in to solve. There are resources that exist and there are organizations
>> already in action. Let's think about partnerships. We do have to continue
>> to share knowledge as technologies change and as new generations come into
>> the fold.
>> Perhaps the ARSC website could include some pointers to existing
>> even as ARSC members ramp up training efforts.
>> All best --
>> Bertram Lyons, CA
>> AVPreserve | www.avpreserve.com
>> American Folklife Center | www.loc.gov/folklife
>> International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives |
>> On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>> Hi Andy:
>>> Count me in on further discussions. Richard Hess has transferred many
>>> oral histories than I and may have many thoughts on the subject.
>>> I think sending people out into the field to record audio without
>>> them basic recording techniques is like sending them out into the woods
>>> without knowing how to start a fire. It's silly and likely not to get
>>> results. I want to emphasize once more than I am not talking about expert
>>> audiophile music-master recording techniques, just basics like put the
>>> off the table, aim it at who's talking and keep it relatively close to
>>> them, and don't fondle the recorder while a person is talking. As for
>>> record-keeping and file-organizing, I think you are 100% correct that the
>>> more done on the recordist's end, the more likely accuracy and
>>> will take place. One thing we could work on is a basic "take sheet" PDF
>>> form that any recordist could print out and take along into the field.
>>> would help them remember to write down key info like dates, who is
>>> or singing or playing on the recording, where the recording takes place,
>>> the recording format, the recording device, and any notes about anomolies
>>> or problems or anything else consequential to the recording.
>>> Ideally, this sort of instruction could be encapsulated in a few short
>>> YouTube videos that anyone wishing to make field recordings could access.
>>> NARAS and AES might be interested in funding or participation, too.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Andy Kolovos" <akolovos@
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 12:27 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Asch vs Lomax
>>> Greetings all--
>>>> Have been silent on the list for quite a while but this thread has
>>>> inspired me to chime in. For those of you who don't know me, I'm both
>>>> archivist and a folklorist and have worked professionally in both fields
>>>> since 2002.
>>>> For many years I--in cooperation with my colleagues John Fenn at the
>>>> University of Oregon, Doug Boyd at University of Kentucky and
>>>> labored to provide basic audio field recording training (as well as
>>>> file management and preservation) workshops to folklorists and oral
>>>> historians under the auspices of the American Folklore Society (AFS) and
>>>> the Oral History Association (OHA). I've also conducted a similar
>>>> for anthropologists at the American Anthropological Association (AAA).
>>>> am also aware of similar efforts at the Society for Ethnomusicology
>>>> At least in the academic context, training ethnographic fieldworkers in
>>>> basic audio recording methods is not a real priority. In part this is
>>>> to the emphasis placed on acquiring theoretical knowledge and research
>>>> skills. In part I suspect it has something to do with it being viewed
>>>> technician work--something people will just figure out on their own. In
>>>> part because people are intimidated by the technology and overwhelmed by
>>>> choices. In part because of a persistent perspective that "good enough
>>>> be audible for me to hear" is good enough.
>>>> I have often pondered the possibilities of AFS developing a partnership
>>>> with ARSC to present field recording and digital audio preservation and
>>>> management workshops in different areas of the US. Better source
>>>> mean better archival records. Materials that are better managed while
>>>> still in the possession of their creators stand a much better chance of
>>>> surviving until they find a home in a repository.
>>>> I would love to discuss this further with any ARSC members who are
>>>> On 9/7/14, 12:00 AM, ARSCLIST wrote:
>>>> ARC in Manhattan would love to host such an event/workshop. Could
>>>> involve Columbia University musicology folks. Lemme know. b.George
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>> Thanks for the link, John.
>>>> The recordings they played were well made. I wish all would-be folklore
>>>> and oral history collectors would take 60 minutes to master the basics
>>>> field recording. So much interesting material has been collected in such
>>>> bad audio quality. I would suggest this should be a mission of ARSC,
>>>> teaching amateur recordists doing field work the basic techniques to
>>>> capture reasonable fidelity.
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> John H. Bondurant
>>>> Berea College
>>>> Hutchins Library
>>>> Special Collections & Archives
>>>> Andy Kolovos, Ph.D., MLS
>>>> Co-Director and Archivist
>>>> Vermont Folklife Center
>>>> 88 Main Street
>>>> Middlebury, VT 05753
>>>> (802) 388-4964