When introducing the Edison Phonograph in the parlor at Gallant Farm, I often tell visitors that a phonograph is similar to a modern record player – with a few differences. Depending on the age of the visitors, they may not even be familiar with a record player. If they aren’t, I explain that they were like the CD of the 1930s. But with our quickly evolving technology, even this sometimes draws a blank stare from young visitors who may have only heard music from an iPod or smart phone. The pieces of technology children have missed between the phonograph and the mp3 make listening to an old 78 rpm record all that more interesting, especially when they find out it doesn’t use electricity and they can wind it up and make it play.
Much like today, music was an important part of 1930’s life. Music was thought to be so important that many field recordings of different types of folk and traditional music were made by New Deal workers and were archived in the Library of Congress. Folk music has been passed down through generations, and through early recordings – like those on phonograph records – these traditional styles gained nationwide, if not worldwide, appeal. Early folk music from many different cultures has contributed to most, if not all, the modern music we listen to today. Join us at Gallant Farm at 7 p.m. on August 25 for “Folk Songs Around the Fire” and help us celebrate traditional folk music. Be sure to bring an instrument – or only your voice – to join in and pass along these gems to the next generation.