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Preserving Music and Art Within Your Community

Lomax the Songhunter chronicles the life of Alan Lomax, who earned a singular place for himself in American culture and arts. Building on the pioneering work of his father, John, whom he accompanied on folk-song recording tours of the American South and Southwest in the 1930s and 1940s, Alan set out after World War II to do nothing less than draw the folk music map of the world.

Folk music preserves the history of the people. What can you to preserve the music and art in your life and your community?

Make a list of all the folk songs that you know. Shirley Collins says “in all the good songs and all the bad songs, what you have is the history of the people. It’s the memory of the people. It’s how they feel about so many things.” Choose one of the folk songs you know and study it in depth. Where did you learn it? What is it about? What history does it tell? Whose memories does it include?

Get involved in preserving folk life (music, art, games, etc.) from your community or family.

Investigate issues related to folk music and copyright. Who should own and/or profit from music that evolved in a community over time or that is of unknown origin? What are the potential consequences of making folk music into a commodity?