Spending a Lot of Time at Home? Take the Archive Challenge and Help Preserve History!

Here is an excellent challenge from the American Folklife Center, as described in the Library of Congress web site:

At the American Folklife Center, we know it’s been hard for those of you who are cooped up at home in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most of the staff live in areas under stay-at-home orders, and have been working from home for weeks. And although some cities and states are starting to open up a little, we have a feeling it will be a while before we’re going out to concerts, theaters, jams, or open mics to perform or enjoy live music and performing arts.

Billy Bragg took the Archive Challenge in 2017!

But guess what? At the Library of Congress, we have an amazing online archive of folk music and folklife which you can explore right from home, and we’d like to offer a suggestion: why not learn a song, tune, poem, or story from the archive, make a recording or video of yourself performing it, and post it online? Or make a work of art based on one of our photos, or write a story or poem based on our materials. We’d love to see what you come up with! Folks from all genres and creators of all art forms are invited to interpret a field recording, video, photo, or manuscript from the AFC Archive. You don’t need to be a professional in order to participate!

Our idea is pretty simple: browse or search online materials in our archive—we’ll provide some links below. Find a piece you’d like to learn, adapt, or be inspired by, and work out your own version or your own artwork. Shoot a homemade video, take a picture of your artwork, or write down your words, and post it all online.

You can read a lot more in the article by Stephen Winick and Jennifer Cutting in the Library of Congress web site at: https://bit.ly/3bcHEED.

The same article also includes a lot of links to the many resources of the Folklife Collections at the Library of Congress Website and elsewhere.

One Comment

I don’t find any links to specific songs that are legal to record online. There are problems with that increasingly these days with big corporations stepping in and blocking recordings, etc. Even when the writers and musicians themselves DON’T have a problem with it. Nirvana redid a Leadbelly song and it sounded great. Bob Dylan recorded “House of the Rising Sun” on his first album. The Animals did their version of it a few years later and it’s now a standard karaoke song. The Byrds did a great version of “The Bells of Rhymney.” There are older songs that could see new light of day and being a singer, guitarist, composer I would be willing to make that happen. But I didn’t see an easy way to do that on their website. Pretty much the wording was, “Oh btw in reference to copyright you’re on your own.” I think I’ll just keep writing and performing MY compositions and creating home made videos with MY smart phone and post them personally on MY You Tube channel. No lawyers can control that — yet. 😉 I did listen to some of the older recordings (the small print indicated even they are under copyright until 2023) and the sound was awful. Massively out of key with the music and singing. It was difficult to hear anything resembling a “song.”


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