Can folk music be a model for setting up a co-creation culture?
In his book We-think: The power of mass creativity the author Charles Leadbeater is talking about a relation of co-creation and the habit of folk music that people borrow musical structures from a shared tradition and taking ideas from a shared pool of multipliers without concern for ownership. A climate of sharing and giving leads to mass innovation often with an individual touch and not mass production.
With this in mind it is interesting to watch the development of the new Global Jukebox project, a tremendous collection of field recordings, of Alan Lomax. The folklorist’s archive of 17.000 field recordings will begin to stream for free very soon, including music from Britain, Ireland, the US, the Caribbean and the former USSR.
Although Lomax’s name is not as well known as some of the musicians he helped discover, e.g. Woody Guthrie, his work continues to have an enormous influence. For example the soundtrack of the film O Brother, where art thou? is using samples from Lomax. He introduced Pete Seeger to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, recorded Vera Hall’s Trouble So Hard (made famous by Moby), and his recordings will even be featured on Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming album, Wrecking Ball.
Besides the popularity to use this material for other musical inspiration it is also interesting to get more information on the system and categorization of the material. Lomax is talking about ‘cantometrics’, the term refers to a system for the measurement of singing style, like blue notes and sounds of animals. The system was also applicable for pop music and he also developed ‘choreometrics’ for dancing and ‘parlametrics’ for speech.
The principles of ‘cantometrics’ are used in the Music Genome Project of Pandora.com a new automated music recommendation service comparable to last.fm and spotify.com