When he opened his tiny recording studio in New York in 1940, Moses
Asch had a larger-than-life dream: To document and record all the sounds
of his time. He created Folkways Records to achieve his goal, not just a
record label but a statement that all sounds are equal and every voice
deserves to be heard. The Folkways catalog grew to include a myriad of
voices, from world- and roots-music to political speeches; the voices of
contemporary poets and steam engines; folk singers Lead Belly and Woody
Guthrie and jazz pianists Mary Lou Williams and James P. Johnson;
Haitian vodoun singers and Javanese court musicians; deep-sea sounds and
sounds from the outer ring of Earth's atmosphere. Until his death in
1986, Asch—with the help of collaborators ranging from the eccentric
visionary Harry Smith to academic musicologists—created more than 2000
albums, a sound-scape of the contemporary world still unequalled in
breadth and scope. Worlds of Sound documents this improbable journey. Along the way you'll meet:
A young Pete Seeger, revolutionizing the world with his five-string banjo
The amazing vocal ensembles of the Ituri Pygmies
North American tree frogs
Ella Jenkins's children's music
Lead Belly singing "The Midnight Special"
The nueva canción of Suni Paz.
Folkways became a part of the Smithsonian Institution's collections
shortly after Asch's death. Today Smithsonian Folkways continues to make
the "worlds of sound" Moe Asch first dreamed of 60 years ago available
to all. The Folkways vision is expansive and all-inclusive, and Worlds of Sound advances its rich and lively spirit."