domingo, 9 de enero de 2011




Alan Lomax is a legendary figure in American folk music circles. Although he published many books, hundreds of recordings and dozens of films, his contributions to popular and academic journals have never been collected. This collection of writings, introduced by Lomax's daughter Anna, reintroduces these essential writings. Drawing on the Lomax Archives in New York, this book brings together articles from the 30s onwards. It is divided into four sections, each capturing a distinct period in the development of Lomax's life and career: the original years as a collector and promoter; the period from 1950-58 when Lomax was recording thorughout Europe; the folk music revival years; and finally his work in academia.


Devil Got My Woman - Blues At Newport 1966 (2001)

Runtime: 60 minutes
Language: English
Country: USA
Color: Black & White
IMDb Link: N/A

Director: Alan Lomax
Skip James
Howlin' Wolf
Rev. Pearly Brown
Son House
Bukka White

The Newport Folk Festival has long been known for its contribution to spreading the gospel of traditional American song. This 1966 performance from the festival was manufactured by celebrated archivist Alan Lomax. He created a juke joint atmosphere complete with flowing liquor and this film documents all the action. The juke joint setting may add considerable flavour, but even without the theatrics the footage of the blues legends stands on its own. Prime performances are delivered by Son House, Bukka White, Howlin' Wolf, Reverend Pearly Brown, and Skip James. Between songs the Wolf taunts Bukka and as the music plays the audience dances at a fever pitch.




Screening Room: Alan Lomax (1975)

Runtime: 71
Language: English
Country: USA
Color: Color

Director: Robert Gardner
Robert Gardner
Alan Lomax


Alan Lomax spent over six decades working as a musicologist, author, record producer, filmmaker, concert promoter, singer, photographer, and network radio host to promote knowledge and appreciation of the world's folk music. As an anthropologist of the performing arts he produced a multimedia database called The Global Jukebox, which surveys the relationship between dance, song, and human history. He was a lifelong advocate for "cultural equity," proposing to reverse the centralization of communications and secure a valid forum for the expressive arts of all indigenous cultures. Alan Lomax appeared on Screening Room in August 1975 to discuss the theory of Choreometrics and show the film Dance and Human History.

This DVD should be marketed as “Dance and Human History: Movement Style and Culture #1, with commentary from the filmmaker and Robert Gardner.” It is a helpfully tracked, digitized, commercial-free episode from a1970s Boston television program called “Screening Room,” where filmmaker Robert Gardner invited fellow filmmakers, intellectuals, or scholars to discuss their work or that of other filmmakers and to submit to his artful questioning between film-viewing (‘screening room’) segments. In this episode from 1975, ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax is the guest and viewers are treated to a partitioned screening of his path-breaking 40 minute film Dance and Human History: Movement Style and Culture #1, accompanied by short interludes of Gardner/Lomax discussion before and after each segment. It is a kind of ‘lecture-demonstration’ version of the film. Skillful editing keeps viewers attention away from the fact of Gardner’s smoking most of the time.

This is the only separate DVD of Dance and Human History available for new purchase now, though a videotape of it appeared in 1990, and many libraries own it. A blurb describing the film on the Alan Lomax (now Cultural Equity) website says, “This introduction to Choreometrics illustrates important scales by which dance can be measured, then utilizes the scales to classify dance into ethnographic regions. Also analyzes the influence of economic productivity and the division of labor between the sexes on dance.” The film was the first in a series of four, now called “Rhythms of Earth,” and it is offered for sale only as one of a boxed set of four DVDs from the Association for Cultural Equity web site. The commentary interwoven into the Screening Room showing of the film, here under review, will be important to today’s audiences as an aid to better understanding what Lomax was aiming to do by helping to develop the movement measurements of Choreometrics, which enable analysis of gestures across cultures. The final talk segment of the TV show introduces his concept of ‘cultural equity,’ which can be further explored on the website.

Digging into original scholarly reviews of the film reveals that while many welcomed it, in certain circles it was criticized as being far less detailed in its analyses than it could have been. It appears simplistic, with its focus on five kinds of movement (three for limbs and two for torso) where the full Choreometrics scale allows for 200, and possibly ‘racist,’ though the latter would never have been Lomax’s intent. Lomax comes across in this DVD as a popularizer of cross-cultural news, teaching just enough in this film to communicate a basic message, to validate a method of research and theorizing, and to ensure that anyone who sees the film will see the world anew because of it.

That ethnographic films were made of people in cultures worldwide while they were at work and while they danced and that these were then were studied by people trained to look for patterns of movement is a fact we can celebrate as the world's cultures become ever more homogenized. Lomax clearly demonstrates his main points in this film: movement is expressive of culture as surely as spoken language is. It can be analyzed and patterns of cultural movement can be seen that indicate that a culture’s dances mimic and stylize its movements in daily life. More broadly applied, these patterns can be compared across cultures and large ‘movement families’ can be seen to exist. The commentary provided by the interview segments with Gardner helps to clarify Lomax’s motives and achievements.

Libraries that have seen steady use of the videotape of the Lomax film should buy this DVD, which offers insights from the filmmaker not available elsewhere, even if they are also considering buying the boxed set mentioned above.

About the Screening Room series

In the early 1970s a group of idealistic artists, lawyers, doctors and teachers saw an opportunity to change commercial television in Boston and the surrounding area. It would require years of litigation up to and including the Supreme Court, but the case was won and the Channel 5 license was given to WCVB-TV. Screening Room was one of several programs offered in an effort to provide alternative television viewing. The idea behind Screening Room was to give independent filmmakers an opportunity to discuss their work and show it to a large urban audience. Nearly 100 ninety-minute programs were produced and aired between 1973 and 1980.

Screening Room was developed and hosted by filmmaker Robert Gardner, who at the time, was Director of Harvard's Visual Arts Center and Chairman of its Visual and Environmental Studies Department. His own films include Dead Birds (1964), and Forest of Bliss (1986).




The Land Where The Blues Began (1979)

Runtime: 59
Language: English
Country: USA
Color: Color
IMDb Link: not listed

Director: Alan Lomax & John Bishop & Worth Long
Sam Chatmon, Jack Owens & Bud Spires, Eugene Powell (Sonny Boy Nelson), Belton Sutherland, Othar Turner, Napoleon Strickland, and Joe Savage


In 1978, Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop took portable video cameras deep into The Land Where the Blues Began and collaborated with the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television to produce this program.

As Alan Lomax 's articulated the mission:

Today we give a platform to this vital folk culture and its creators. These people witnessed the birth of the blues. They lived them. This haunting music, laughing at life’s ironies, and set to a dancing beat. This amazing mix of Europe and Africa is America’s most distinctive song style. It’s also the product of the folk culture of the Mississippi Delta.

We visit picnics and revivals. We meet the black pioneers who helped to carve Mississippi out of the wilderness with their work on farm, river, railroad and levee, creating a new music out of their loneliness and their deprivation. Music that, once heard, can never be forgotten.

The program features performances by Sam Chatmon, Jack Owens & Bud Spires, Eugene Powell (Sonny Boy Nelson), Belton Sutherland, Othar Turner, Napoleon Strickland, adn Joe Savage.

Finished in 1979 and broadcast on PBS in 1980. the program won awards and played in numerous festivals. In 1990 was broadcast again on PBS, re-edited as part of the American Patchwork series.



gracias a Poenir y Tangopete

1 comentario:

  1. Hola, ¿se podrá resubir "Devil Got My Woman"?
    Impresionante trabajo el que hacía Lomax. Y muy bueno tu blog. Felicitaciones.