Count me in on further discussions. Richard Hess has transferred many more oral histories than I and
may have many thoughts on the subject.
I think sending people out into the field to record audio without teaching 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 good results. I want to emphasize once more than I am not talking about expert
audiophile music-master recording techniques, just basics like put the mic 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 organization 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. This would help them remember to write down key info like dates, who is speaking 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
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
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Andy Kolovos" <[log in to unmask]>
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 an 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 others--have labored to provide basic audio field recording
> training (as well as digital 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 workshop for anthropologists at the American
> Anthropological Association (AAA). I am also aware of similar efforts at the Society for
> Ethnomusicology (SEM).
> At least in the academic context, training ethnographic fieldworkers in basic audio recording
> methods is not a real priority. In part this is due to the emphasis placed on acquiring
> theoretical knowledge and research skills. In part I suspect it has something to do with it being
> viewed as 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 to 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 recordings 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 interested.
> 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 of 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
> -- 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