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Thursday, May 12 • 10:30am - 10:45am
Achives Alive: Activating the North Carolina Jukebox

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The North Carolina Jukebox project transforms an inaccessible audio archive of historic North Carolina folk music into a vital, publicly accessible digital archive and museum exhibition. In the 1930s Frank Clyde Brown, a Duke scholar, began recording and archiving Western North Carolina folk music. Most of those recordings are still housed on wax cylinders and glass disks in the Duke Libraries, but about 400 songs have been converted to digital formats. Scholars in music and folklore, librarians, students, digital media specialists, descendants of the original performers, and contemporary musicians are working together to bring the collection to life.

As a digital cultural heritage project, NC jukebox provokes critical questions around authority, appropriation, and control of cultural artifacts preserved in wax and glass. At the same time, it opens up a possibility-space for ongoing academic and community collaboration around a living set of traditions and practices. The project includes an exhibition and online playlist of the “Greatest Hits” of the FCB collection. It also necessitates metadata standards and library infrastructure. We are exhibiting both in the Mountain Music Museum, operated by folk singer/musicians Terry and Ruth McKinney, and in the Rubenstein Library at Duke in time for the annual meeting of the Music Librarians Association.

In addition to foregrounding the music itself, NC Jukebox explores biographies of the singers, transcribe the songs, and traces the Scotch-English history and contemporary analogues of the songs themselves. We demonstrate change over time and space through maps, patterns, flows, timelines, and networks of the music – a kind of distant listening, or viewing. Interactive touchscreens, period photos, and hybrid analog-digital audio playback machines – a radio, a Jukebox, and perhaps a 78-playing phonograph – will invoke the historical conditions of production and reception. We also confront the history and limits of the songcatching enterprise itself. Brown’s posthumous editors left out African American singers and songs, among others, leading us to consider together how to move from cultural heritage as univocal essence to polyphonic, multimodal assemblage.


Thursday May 12, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am MST
COOR L1-84 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  Archives and Collections, Long paper
  • Session Location COOR L1-84