Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Project: Songs of New Jersey

I've determined that my folk song collection is sadly lacking in material from the area where I actually grew up. I set out to remedy that problem by searching for music from New Jersey. I figured a quick spin around Google would give me a few pointers, and get me a handful of traditional, public-domain songs that I could work with.


It turns out that for all that's happened in the state, from the Revolution through the development of audio recording and radio, there isn't much by way of actual folk music to be easily found. That's not to say there aren't songs that were born here, or that are about here, or were sung here as people worked, it's just that there aren't many written down. In short, it's going to take some digging.

Well, if I'm going to have to work for it, I might as well do something with it. So I've decided, my next musical project is going to be to build a small collection of songs about and from New Jersey. I've started contacting some historical societies and museums, and plan to do a bit of archival research (I'm on a pretty tight budget as far as this goes, but I should be able to dig up a lot of stuff for free), already I've found some compositions from the Revolutionary War period and might have a line on some fishing songs, but there's a long way to go.

I'm hoping if I can make this happen I can try to get funding through historical societies and possibly Kickstarter to get funding to record it, as well as publish a companion book of words and music.

What I could use from you, dear readers, are any leads that you might have on old songs. I'm specifically trying to find pre-1900 music, if I can, although I'm open to just about anything that might work (and, ideally, is in the public domain, because I'm not sure I'll be able to afford to record copyrighted work)

I'm not sure how successful this is going to be in the long run, but I think it will be a lot of fun to try, and we'll see where it takes me. Wish me luck!


Neil said...

This is fairly surprising, given tht Edison invented the first audio device with a playback function in New Jersey. You may have to write some music for this.

Matt DeBlass said...

I was thinking that I may have to write a song or two (I have one about riding the Raritan Valley Line already), Edison is good, Joe Mulliner is also begging for a good "outlaw ballad" too.