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On the Beauty of Collections

Brian Harnetty (Appalachian Sound Archives Fellow 2006) focused on identifying and analyzing traditional music for incorporation in a large-scale multiple media work entitled 'american winter.'

Audio Highlight

spoken lore

Jane Muncy - Leslie County, Kentucky
"Jack and the Bull Stripe,"
Hyden Elementary School,
10 October 1949.

Leonard Ward Roberts Collection (LR-OR-001-07)

Excerpt 1 from 'american winter'

This is a typical example of how I am approaching much of the material from the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives. The piece combines a field recording of Addie Graham being interviewed and singing “The Lonesome Scenes of Winter” along with an ensemble of instruments: banjo, piano, toy piano, bells, and dulcimer. The instruments create a deliberately sparse, empty ‘field’ of sound, separate from the recordings. They are a loose accompaniment to Addie Graham and something for her voice to push off of, to react against. This allows the listener to hear several layers of sounds, both as a combined effect and each element independently.

Excerpt 2 from an untitled collection of short sound pieces

Part of a collection of sounds from the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives, this short piece is defined by an overlooked and insignificant aspect of a field recording: the chiming of a clock in the background. During an interview of the musician Buell Kazee by Loyal Jones, many ambient sounds are present. The chiming of a clock and the immediate moments that surround it became the structure of the piece. By letting a random but easily distinguishable moment create the framework, fragmented and contrasting text is heard, and the background sounds are placed in the foreground of the listener’s perception.

Excerpt 3 from 'conversations with coal miners and with death'

This is a portion of the sound material presented in a May 2006 appearance at the University of Northern Iowa. I traveled there to perform at their gallery of art (as part of the Fossil Fools art collective). I used old turntables and electronics, making a collage of samples and sounds, including the Maggard Coalmine interviews from Berea and "Conversation with Death" sung by Dellie Norton. The installation portion of the exhibition was a 12-minute loop that included sounds and video. This is the kind of space/environment that would also work well for american winter..


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Harry Rice
Sound Archivist

Special Collections & Archives