Alan Lomax (1915-2002) spent more than six decades in the USA working to promote knowledge and appreciation of folk music all over the world. In the 1930s he and his father John Lomax developed the Library of Congress Archive of American Folksong as a major national resource. By 1942 it had become the leading institution of its kind in the world, with several thousand songs from all over America and from some parts of Latin America on record. Lomax worked as am ethnomusicologist, record producer and network radio host and writer.
When the portable tape recorder was produced, he immediately put it to use. Lomax travelled to Ireland in 1950 and Scotland in 1951 and then to Spain. He returned to Britain and worked as a radio producer and field recordist at the BBC, producing programmes for the 'Third Programme' on radio. He was commissioned by them to go to Italy to record and he conducted 'Folk surveys' of British and European music, helping to spark major folk-song revivals in various countries.
It is not difficult to imagine how much this work must have excited Charles Parker when he joined the BBC in 1953 after two years spent working in the North American Service.
In later years Lomax assembled the first overview of world folksong for Columbia Records. As an anthropologist of the performing arts for Columbia University and Hunter College he produced a multimedia interactive database called the Global Jukebox which surveys the relationship between song, music, dance and human history.
The programmes recorded here are the eight from the series called 'A Ballad Hunter Looks at Britain' recorded by Lomax in 1957 for the BBC Home Service, giving a taste of traditional music and song, from Cornwall to the Western Isles, and from Ireland. Also included in the recordings here are some of the programmes by Lomax on the traditional music in America and the music of the Black communities in the American south. These were recorded in 1960.
The Track B side of many of these tapes holds a recording from the 'Epic Survivals' series broadcast on the BBC Third Programme, under the general editorship of A.L.Lloyd, in 1963, which looked at the survival of traditions of epic song and music in Europe, Africa and Asia.
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