Sometimes a conversation with your grandmother can lead to a Kickstarter project.
At a family gathering this past Easter, I asked my grandmother about a song my mom used to sing to me. She said, "You mean this?" And she sang a song I had never heard before! I asked her to sing it while I recorded it, and when I got home I Googled. Googled this phrase, that phrase, this combination of phrases, and... it was a very old traditional song with virtually no existence on the Internet. I could find the lyrics, but no printed music. I could only find one recording—of a variation—on iTunes. I assumed every traditional song could be found free on the internet, but I was wrong.
What I've learned is that traditional songs collected by Alan Lomax get remembered; songs that made it into elementary music curriculums get remembered; songs recorded by Pete Seeger get remembered. Though we are thankful for these sources, there are other songs that are just as much a part of the American musical experience, and they are slowly being forgotten. There are song variations I've heard that I can't find on the Internet.
Oh, if you're curious what my grandmother sang, here is the recording I made:
I can't guarantee that I will find dozens of gems to publish. But I know there are a few rare variations of songs and rhymes I've heard family and friends sing. I know they exist, and I want them to be remembered. I want to publish these traditional songs, rhymes, and their variations and make them freely available.
If this project gets funded, I plan to conduct field research, make field recordings, collect, transcribe and publish the results. Since Kickstarter is funded upfront, I will publish my collection to the public domain using a Creative Commons CC0 license.
I'll be using the notation software Finale for engraving. The final project will be published as a PDF. Spiral-bound hard copies will also be made.
Any funds above the project goal will go into making the project even better. Better microphones, more extensive research and collecting, and better publishing!
"How do I help?"
To become a backer, click on the green button beside the video above. Kickstarter will guide you through the process. You can also share this project with your friends!
Risks and challenges
Field research is challenging for many reasons. It's not possible to simply make people remember a song their grandmother used to sing to them. But I've also found that people are happy to share with others their cherished memories of nostalgic songs. Even if another rare song or variation doesn't surface in field research, I believe I already have enough rare material already to make this project worthwhile. I will publish both the rare and well-known traditional songs that make up part of the musical history of this area.
The easy part will be the transcription and data entry process. I've had many years of experience using Finale.
I believe I have been realistic with the costs that I will incur—including printing hard copies of this collection—as well as the time table involved.
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