Jesse Jarnow

postcards: fourth of july

“Drums, Sun, Birds, Bells” (download)

“Birds, News” (download)

As shaman-in-residence at Boulder, Colorado’s Naropa Institute, folk archivist/alchemist/animator Harry Smith once recorded the entirety of his Fourth of July, from fireworks to crickets. Here are two mono-recorded excerpts of Independence Day 2007. Sounds in the field include the distant bells and marching drums of a parade, siren blasts, low-flying airplanes, a layer of constant bird chatter, and breaking ocean waves. Despite the mono, headphones are recommended, nuances revealing themselves with each upwards nudge of the volume knob. On “Drums, Sun, Birds, Bells,” everything is dense. On “Birds, News,” a more ambient reading of the same gives way to chaos when the birds react to sudden sirens.

The Smithsonian edition of Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music box set included his Fourth of July recording as part of the bonus features on one of the discs… except, so it seems, the “enhanced” multimedia technology, issued in 1997, no longer functions on current Macs. Oh, well. Anybody got an mp3?
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