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Books & Magazines October, 17 2008

Richard Carlin “Worlds of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways”

“When he opened his tiny recording studio in New York in 1940, Moses Asch had a larger-than-life dream: To document and record all the sounds of his time. He created Folkways Records to achieve his goal, not just a record label but a statement that all sounds are equal and every voice deserves to be heard. The Folkways catalog grew to include a myriad of voices, from world- and roots-music to political speeches; the voices of contemporary poets and steam engines; folk singers Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie and jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams and James P. Johnson; Haitian vodoun singers and Javanese court musicians; deep-sea sounds and sounds from the outer ring of Earth’s atmosphere. Until his death in 1986, Asch—with the help of collaborators ranging from the eccentric visionary Harry Smith to academic musicologists—created more than 2000 albums, a sound-scape of the contemporary world still unequalled in breadth and scope. Worlds of Sound documents this improbable journey.”

Author Richard Carlin worked for Folkways Records from 1975 to 1980. He has written several books on folkways and music. Worlds of Sound is his latest and is out now from Harper Collins.

The table of contents for Worlds of Sound can be found after the jump.

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