Saturday, November 8, 2008

CDs of local interest

We have some fascinating new CDs from the people at Smithsonian Folkways that will be of particular interest to our local patrons. These archive recordings come from the Smithsonian museum in the nation's capitol, and they represent some wonderful attempts to record and preserve global culture.
Haida: Indian music of the Pacific Northwest is a 2-disc set containing over 24 different songs, including a paddle song, a lullaby, a celebration song and a potlatch welcome dance. There are a couple of interviews on the disc as well. Recorded in the 1970's, the collection features 2 Tsimshian songs that were known to the Haida elders who contributed to the recording. Best of all, the CD comes with a very informative booklet in which all of the songs - music and lyrics - are transcribed and any associated history of the song is included. Transcripts of the interviews are also included.
A Cry From the Earth: music of the North American Indians is another set of historic cultural recordings, many of which come from early in the 20th century (there is even one recording that was made in 1894!). There are 6 songs on this disc from the Northwest Coast and Eskimo tribes, and the accompanying booklet provides a nice description of each track, as well as some anthropological information.
The Southeast Alaska folk tradition has quite a variety of traditional and contemporary folk music (this recording was originally released in 1981, so take that 'contemporary' with a grain of salt). Tlingit, Tsimshian, Russian and English songs are all here - from a Tsimshian blanket dance song to a ballad about Russian-Tlingit relations to Joe Juneau's ramblin' blues. The booklet that comes with the CD is a little difficult to read, since it has been reproduced from a badly scanned document, but the information is invaluable once you decipher it.
A Philippine Christmas is both geographically and temporally significant for our patrons, since the Christmas season is galloping down upon us. Featuring Bayanihan - the Philippine National Folk Dance Company - the songs and carols on this disc are sung primarily in Tagalog, although there are a few songs in Cebuano and Ilocano. We have been unable to find an original release date for this album (the Smithsonian doesn't know either), but looking at the album cover I would date this somewhere in the early 1970's.
We always like adding unique little items to the shelves, and we hope that many people are interested in these music selections that you won't necessarily find on Napster.

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