High Lonesome Sound, 1963
The End of an Old Song, 1970
Fifty Miles from Times Square, 1973
Musical Holdouts, 1975
Qeros: The Shape of Survival, 1979
Peruvian Weaving: A Continuous Warp, 1980
Sara & Maybelle: The Carter Family, 1981
Post Industrial Fiddle, 1982
Gypsies Sing Long Ballads, 1982
The Ballad and the Source, 1983
Mountain Music of Peru, 1984
Choqela: Only Interpretation, 1986
Pericles in America, 1988
Carnival in Qeros, 1990
Dancing with the Incas, 1991
High Lonesome Sound
Songs of church-goers, miners, and farmers of eastern Kentucky express
the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor. This classic film
evocatively illustrates how music and religion help Appalachians maintain
their dignity and traditions in the face of change and hardship. 30
min. 1963. B&W
sense of reality the film generates, its comprehensiveness, and
its powerful photography make it good and useful; what makes it
a great film is its great theme, the awe-inspiring dignity, beauty,
and art of the common man in the face of adversity and hardship."
-- Journal of American Folklore [top]
superbly conceived, masterfully executed work of art.
- Michael Goodwin, Rolling Stone
End of an Old Song
Filmed in the mountains of North Carolina, this documentary revisits
the region where English folklorist Cecil Sharp collected British
ballads in the early 1900s. It contrasts the nature of the ballad
singers with the presence of the juke box: although the lyrical
tradition has changed, the singing style continues. Features Dillard
Chandler, who sings with rare intensity and style. 27 min. B&W.
Miles from Times Square
A colorful portrait of life in Putnam County, New York, with its
"old-time fiddlers, farmers, commuters, and hippies,"
where an earlier, more traditional, relaxed style of life continues.
43 min. Color.1981 [top]
eloquent testimonial to those enclaves within America where
music-making endures as a key to a people's cultural identity.
-- Karen Cooper, The Film Forum, New York City
This classic, entertaining survey of American traditional music
presents varied individuals and groups who have not become part
of the "melting pot" of American society. From front porch
banjo pickers in Appalachia and the Bluegrass Festival circuit to
black children on the Carolina sea islands, cowboys, and Cheyenne
and Comanche Indians, they have all retained their cultural identities
despite pressures from the mass media and popular culture. 47 min.
Color. 1976 [top]
The Shape of Survival
An acclaimed depiction of the way of life of the Q'eros Indians
of Peru, who have lived in the Andes for more than 3,000 years.
Their economy is nearly self-sufficient and their location, at 14,000
feet, is well adapted for their alpacas (raised for wool) their
llamas (beasts of burden). The Q'eros employ the same agricultural
methods, play the same panpipes and flutes, and weave cloth using
the same patterns as those described by Spanish chroniclers in the
16th century. The film presents Q'eros music in its shepherd and
religious functions and weaving as an integral part of family life.
53 min. Color. 1979 [top]
Examines warp pattern weaving in Peru, an ancient Andean Indian
tradition handed down from woman to woman for some 5,000 years.
Features a detailed demonstration of the warp pattern technique
on back-strap and four-stake looms by Indian weavers and an interview
with Dr. Junius Bird, of the American Museum of Natural History,
who discusses this weaving tradition and analyzes significant examples.
25 min. Color. 1980 [top]
A rare filmed performance of two members of the original Carter
family, whose recordings helped found the country music industry.
Here Sara and Maybelle demonstrate their famous guitar picking and
harmony singing on "Sweet Fern" and "Solid Gone."
10 min. B&W. 1981 [top]
This deceptively simple but profound film explores the importance
of music-making in the life of a pulp mill worker in rural Maine.
His "Down East" fiddling style is homemade music, influenced
largely by local traditions. The film suggests that music is important
as an individual creative act, as one piece of a complex lifestyle,
and as one of the elements through which people communicate and
sustain friendship. 23 min. Color. 1982 [top]
Sing Long Ballads
Scotland's Gypsies have lived outside mainstream society for more
than 500 years. Although some of the "Travelling People"
still live by the sides of roads, most live today in houses and
are under pressure to abandon their culture. This film celebrates
their traditional music, especially the long unaccompanied British
ballads that date back hundreds of years and have been handed down
by memory through the generations. 30 min. Color. 1982 [top]
Ballad and the Source
The tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing is very old and still
cherished in Great Britain, though only a few traditional singers
are still alive. This is a sensitive musical portrait of Walter
Pardon, perhaps the finest living traditional English ballad singer.
16 min. Color. 1983 [top]
Recommended for audiences as well as for college in cultural
anthropology, Latin America, and ethnomusicology. -- Choice
Music of Peru
This classic documentary portrait of the centuries-old music of
the Andes demonstrates its importance in preserving the cultural
identity of the impoverished native peoples. The musical thread
that runs through the Andes extends back past the ancient culture
of the Incas, and it is strong enough to have successfully resisted
both the Spanish conquest and the forces of modern Western culture.
This musical journey travels from small towns and remote mountain
villages to the capital city of Lima, showing how Peru's popular
music connects even the most isolated people. 60 min. Color. 1984
This provocative and profound film documents the Choqela ceremony,
an agricultural ritual and song of the Aymara Indians of Peru. By
offering several different translations of the proceedings, the
film acknowledges the problems of interpretation as an inherent
dilemma of anthropology. 12 min. Color. 1987 [top]
This musical portrait of immigrant clarinetist Pericles Halkias
and the Epirot-Greek community explores the aspirations and ambivalences
of Greek-Americans. Moving between Queens, New York and northern
Greece, it presents the traditional music of Epirus, showing how
the music unites the Epirot community around the world. The film
defines America not as a melting pot, but rather as a place to make
a better living. The Epirots who earn their living here have their
hearts planted firmly in the mountains of Greece. 70 min. Color.
rare and delightful film that presents wonderful performances
in their 20th-century context and guarantees animated class
- Anthony Seeger, ethnomusicologist and Curator, Smithsonian
This groundbreaking documentary shows the remarkable Carnival celebrations
-- never before seen by outsiders -- of a remote community of Indians
high in the Peruvian Andes. Their culture offers important clues
into the Inca past and the roots of Andean cultures. The Q'eros
play flutes and sing to their alpacas in a ritual to promote the
animals' fertility. The film shows how the music evolves from individual,
to family, to ayllu, to community, a structure of spiritual activity
distinct from the structure of kinship. The Q'eros sing and play
separately from each other, producing a heterophonic sound without
rhythmic beat, harmony, or counterpoint -- a "chaotic"
sound texture that exemplifies a key connection between the culture
of the Andes and that of the Amazon jungle. The film also focuses
on the protracted negotiations by which the Indians were compensated
for their participation in the project. 32 min. Color. 1991 [top]
with the Incas
This extraordinary film documents the most popular music of the
Andes -- Huayno music -- and explores the lives of three Huayno
musicians in a contemporary Peru torn between the military and the
Shining Path guerrillas. The film shows how ancient Incan music
passed down through the centuries has a contemporary life of its
own in the cities of Peru. Lima on Sundays is alive with Huayno
music, in which one hears authentic Inca melodies performed on every
conceivable type of instrument. In the moody lyrics, the musings
of oppressed people assume an existential and timeless quality even
when a carnival atmosphere prevails. This is one of the few ethnographic
films that deals with complex issues of cultural mixture. Rather
than focusing on a single community or ethnic group, the film investigates
a broad cultural region and illustrates what happens to it as it
confronts the commercial traditions and demands of the West. 58
min. Color. 1992
tour-de force! Musically rich and politically poignant, this work
paves the way for a new kind of ethnographic film. It demonstrates
how members of the Peruvian urban poor are transforming rural indigenous
traditions and producing an entirely new artistic genre that is
sensitive to Andean musical structures and to contemporary popular
culture. While focusing on the music, the film never lets us forget
the economic struggles of the people who perform."
-- Judith Friedlander, Prof. of Anthropology and Dean of Social
Sciences, Hunter College, City Univ. of New York [top]