Dillard Chandler, from The End of an Old Song, 1957

 

 
 
   

The 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

 

    The 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

"The 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]

 


A superbly conceived, masterfully executed work of art.
- Michael Goodwin, Rolling Stone

 

The 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. 1972 [top]

 

   

Fifty 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]

 


An 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

 

Musical Holdouts
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]

 

   

Q'eros: 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]

 

   

Peruvian Weaving
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]

 

   

Sara and Maybelle
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]

 

   

Post Industrial Fiddle
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]

 

   

Gypsies 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]

 

   

The 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]

 


Superb.... Recommended for audiences as well as for college in cultural anthropology, Latin America, and ethnomusicology. -- Choice

 

Mountain 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 [top]

 

   

Choqela: Only Interpretation
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]

 

   

Pericles in America
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. 1988 [top]

 


A rare and delightful film that presents wonderful performances in their 20th-century context and guarantees animated class discussions.
- Anthony Seeger, ethnomusicologist and Curator, Smithsonian Institution

Carnival in Q'eros
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]

 

   

Dancing 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

"A 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]