Monthly Archives: October 2009

Admiring what Ian Nagoski is up to

A posting at Excavated Shellac got me started on this threadlet. It links to an mp3 of a ca. 1911 Turkish-language record (though probably sung by two Christian or Jewish women) that’s in the Pretty Boy Floyd tradition. Or so I learned by reading Ian Nagoski’s masterful summary, which served to connect up a bunch of dots I already knew something about, having to do with pre-1921 Smyrna, its ethnic composition and its various musics. I’ve been acquainted with Nagoski’s enterprise since acquiring his compilation CD Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics 1918-1955, but I hadn’t turned Google loose on the case until today, and the documents linked below tell a tale that I could only wish was my own:

Distant Transmissions: Ian Nagoski brings obscure World Music 78s to CD

News from Home: a short tour of non-English language music for sale in Baltimore

Ian Nagoski: Musician and Writer (2001 interview, before his immersion in ‘World’ stuff, but there’s a money quote: “…curating and re-presenting consensus-reality culture with insight [as in Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music] can be completely mind-shattering.”)

I have wrestled for years with the enormous potential represented by my own music collections, and with the question of how to link stuff up, how to distribute the gems to audiences who would be glad to hear them, how to narrate the stories that are immured in the grooves and the lyrics. I don’t expect to solve those problems, but it’s heartening to see examples like Ian Nagoski, and to know that others are after some of the same things.