Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 30: Music
BY TOPIC – Music
CATEGORIES – Music
TAGS: music and dance guide, Appalachian ballads, folk-dancing, mountain musical instruments, dulcimers, banjos, fiddles, fiddlers, correspondence, narratives, musicians, books, singers, workers, scholars
In developing a music guide it is difficult to separate music and dance at Pine Mountain Settlement School. They are often integrally intertwined — as they should be. Music and dance both played significant roles in the development of the School and the valley community at Pine Mountain. Many leading scholars of Appalachian ballads, folk-dancing and mountain musical instruments, particularly the dulcimer, have contributed to the resources found at Pine Mountain Settlement and have used the archive at Pine Mountain for their research. Staff, students, visitors and scholars who worked or used resources at the School have left a rich and growing collection of letters, transcriptions and observations related to both music and dance. The deep hollows, the extensive family histories, the rich oral tradition, the love of celebration, and the extended historical trail leading back to European sources are gathered in any deep dive into the history of the music of Appalachia.
The following resources provide a brief overview of materials held at the School:
DULCIMERS AT PINE MOUNTAIN [Post – Dancing in the Cabbage Patch]
JESS PATTERSON – Dulcimer-maker; PMSS worker in the 1930s to1960s.
ABNER BOGGS (1881-1954) – Well-known for his rich repertoire of Appalachian songs and ballads as well as his tall tales.
MAY DAY – This annual celebration at PMSS was particularly important in carrying forward the English Country Dance traditions that Pine Mountain adopted as part of its cultural heritage.
LORAINE WYMAN AND HOWARD BROCKWAY – PMSS visitors, 1916. Loraine Wyman was a singer and song-collector, Brockway was her accompanist.
PMSS GIRLS’ OCTET 1936-1937 – A PMSS student singing group that toured the U.S., including a presentation at the White House, Washington, DC in 1937.
RICHARD CHASE – PMSS worker and visitor in the 1940s; folklorist.
SINGING WILLIE NOLAN (1881-1970) – Old-fashioned ballad singer who lived in the PMSS community.
MINING AND PROTEST SONGS
ALAN LOMAX (1915-2002) – Alan Lomax and his wife, gathered music from the PMSS area in 1937 and visited the School. He was an American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century. He was also a musician himself, as well as a folklorist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker.
CECIL SHARP AND MAUDE KARPELES Visit to PMSS – The 1917 visit by Cecil Sharp, a song and dance collector from England, was one of the most important moments in the revival of folk dance. Maude Karpeles was his assistant.
LEONARD WARD ROBERTS – PMSS English teacher from 1950 to 1953 and folklore scholar.
EVELYN K. WELLS – Her interest in folk music began at PMSS while serving as the School’s secretary from 1916 to 1931 and interim director in 1931. She went on to become prominent in the study and teaching of English Literature and Anglo-American folk dance and song at Wellesley College.
Town Hall, New York, Fundraising – On November 21, 1938, students and staff from the Pine Mountain Settlement School presented an evening of Folk-Music and Folk-Dance “for the benefit of the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County, Kentucky.” The program was planned to support the School’s Silver Jubilee.
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