AFC 2004/004: MS 03.05.51
c/o Irish Folklore Commission,
82 St. Stephen's Green,
7 May, 1951.
Columbia Recording Company of New York City has commissioned me to assemble a World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, with an hour for each country or region; all the records to be from folk-singers and made in the field (documentary recordings in other words). I should like to make a Spanish album-possibly one that will cover the whole Iberian Peninsula, and would like to find the best person to work with in the area. Such a person will be editor or co-editor of the album as teh case warrants.
The best possible person is someone who already has made, or is in charge of a large collection of modern field recordings. Any amount of knowledge of published tunes will not serve. In some countries the job is actually being done by two people-a young man doing the collecting and an eminent musicologist doing the editing. There is a small honorarium and the usual amount of royalties attached although the project is not one which will bring a large return financially.
Would you be so kind as to spy out the ground for me in this matter and discuss it, if you care to, informally, with any Spanish folklorist that my be about? I'll probably come to Spain in the course of my trip, just when I don't know, to work the album up, because I understand there is neither a collector such as I have found in other countries, nor a trained field recorder in Spain. I was in hopes that you ight fin someone who would be suitable for the task.
P*S. Permanent Address: c/o Columbia Records, 799 7th Ave., New York C.
20 May-1 July: c/o BBC, London.
18TH APRIL 1951
I have been advised by Miss Karpeles, Head of the International Folk Music Council, that you could give me a suggestion or two about a problem.
I am assembling and editing for the Columbia Recording Company, a World Library of Folk Music on records and I want to have a Spanish album as part of the whole feature. Apparently it is very difficult to find out whether there are any active collectors of Spanish folk music touring the country with recording machines and making records of the true material as it is found in its native habitats. If there is such an active young collector I should like very much to engage to work with him during a short visit in Spain in assembling this album. Miss Karpeles thought you might be able to look into the matter and to let me know.
I have the following names of Spanish folklorists:
Senor [Aureli] Capmany, Barcelona.
El Rev. Padre P. Dojnostia [sic], Barcelona.
The Brisith Institute in Madrid,
[folio encabezado por Instituto Británico en España, Calle de Almagro, 5, Madrid:]
16th May, 1951.
Dear Mr. Lomax,
Thank you for your letter of 11th May. I am afraid that I cannot give you any definite information about recording machines in spain except to tell you that they are used by official bodies. I have no knowledge as to those privately owned. I imagine that many of the well-known folklorists use the old method of taking down by hand, but there are some collectors, I am sure, in the big centres who possess the Webster recording machine, the American make, which I have myself.
W. F. Starkie,
Representative, British Council in Spain
Alan Lomax, Esq.,
London, W. 1.
Professor Walter Starkie,
Forgive me for this long delay in writing you. With the recording tape which you helped me bring into Spain I made good recordings of the Auroras, found fine ravel players in Lagartera, which is an extremely interesting musical community near Oropesa, and finally recorded some beatiful music in the Basque Cojuntry. Pip and I drove across the border into France in the midst of a snow storm in the first week in January. Since then I have been vainly trying to catch up with months of postponed work.
Torner has been over the collection of 1200 songs I have on tape and found it very good, most especially the Aurora stuff. I wondered wheter you would not like a recording of the Auroras. If so you have only to let me know. It would be easy for me to make you a copy on tape and possible for me to make a disc for you.
I would like to know what you think of my last book, a cop of which my publishers are sending your.
The first edition of the World Library of Folk and Primitive Music with Albums from england, Scotland, ireland, Spain, France, Canada, Venezuela, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, French Africa, British Africa and perhaps one of two more countries will be published by Columbia Records in October. I think you will be proud to have had a hand in making this, for to be frank with you Walter, I do not think I would have stayed in Spain if I had not encountered your friendliness in Palma. The subsequente kindness of your family to me in Madrid was one of the bright spots of the trip. I hope you will be coming to England before the end of June when I have to leave for my next jaunt. If you do for God's sake come to see me, for I should like nothing better than to see you and show you what we have done.
[papel con encabezado de The British Council:]
18th May, 1953
Upper Regent Street,
I was delighted to get your leter as I felt in the back of my mind a deep sense of contrition that I did not see you before you left. You very kindly asked me one evening but I had to refuse because I had an order from the Ambassador to go to a show.
I am very interested in your recording of the Auroras: my book will soon be out and it has a long chpater on the Auroras' method of singing. What luck in finding the Ravel players in Lagartera. I was a guest o honour in the small 'pueblo' of [añadido a mano:] Vavalcán which is near Oropesa, and I heard some beatiful music there in 1940. I would give anything to possess a recording of the Auroras: you would do me agreat favour if you could possibly send it to me or make a disc.
Ia m very interestd to know about your last book and hope the publishers will send it to me as I should like to write a revew for it. Do let me know how I may buy some of your albums: I am particularly interested both from my own point of view and that of Spain.
It is very kind of you to say such nice things about me: I was delighted to meet you, in the first place, as I have always had great admiration for the work of your father ever since I lived in that enchanted land in New Mexico, Texas and California. And then we were both warriors at that strange congress at Palma last year: I felt a deep sense of solidarity with you and our friend, [Pablo] Ga[r]rido, from the suthern Hemiphere.
My wife and daugther are delighted to hear good news of you and remember you will always find a ready welcome in our houyse here in Madrid. I am afraid I shall not be able to get over to London in June, and at the end of July I am invited to attend the Rabelais Centenary at Chinon. I am deiting myself in order to prepare for the Gargatuan orgy in the cellars of the great Fronçois, the Laugher. Do remember me to Pip.
17 Bourne Street,
Walter Starkie, Esq.,
many thanks for your charming letter. Before I leave London this month I will copy off the Aurora records to send to you. Out of the many names and address I had of people in Spain, one I seem to have lost is that of the Murcian sculptor who was so kind to me and without whom it would not have been possible to record the Auroras. I am sending you this picture I took fo him in the hope that you know his address and can send it on to him with my affectionate compliments.It seems quite likely now that I will be coming back to Spain some time this year, in which case I look forward to a renewal of our friendship and a visit to you and your charming family.