On June 3, 2020

Vermont Folklife Center presents the archive challenge

Inspired by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and their Folklife Archive Challenge, the Vermont Folklife Center and Middlebury College Special Collections are teaming up on the Vermont Folklife Archive Challenge!

For years the American Folklife Center (AFC) has invited musicians to draw inspiration from their holdings to create their own new recordings. In response to COVID-19, AFC recently put out a special call to artists to use AFC’s online collections as a part of their Archive Challenge from Home initiative.

Now it’s Vermont’s turn! The Vermont Folklife Center and Middlebury College Special Collections each hold extensive collections of Vermont traditional music—and many of these recordings and manuscripts are available online.

They invite musicians and artists to dive into their online collections of traditional song and instrumental music and use what you find to create something new. They’d love to hear your Doom Metal versions of ballads like “Young Charlotte,” your EDM takes on old New England fiddle tunes like “Crystal Schottische,” or your straight-up renditions of “C’était une bergère.”

Please note: the challenge is not limited to music! Visual artists, writers, poets: create work inspired by a recording from our archives. The Vermont Folklife Archive Challenge is for you, whether you cleave close to tradition or make a song your very own—regardless of the medium you chose.

So how does this work exactly?

Start by exploring the Vermont Folklife Center’s online digital collections or Middlebury College Special Collections’ Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection. All these materials are free to access.

Pick some material that moves you—then recreate it!

Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #VtArchivesChallenge

Record yourself  (audio or video) performing your song

Take a picture of your visual art pieces

Post your poem or literary work

Email listening@vermontfolklifecenter.org to let us know!

About the collections

Vermont Folklife Center:

The Desrosiers/Joyal Family Collection; explore.vermontfolklifecenter.org/digital-archive/collections/collections/show/5

Manuscripts and audio recordings of French and English language songs created by the members of the Desrosiers and Joyal families.

The Margaret MacArthur Collection; explore.vermontfolklifecenter.org/digital-archive/collections/collections/show/6

Field recordings made by Vermont folk singer and song collector Margaret MacArthur (1928-2006) in Vermont and New England between 1960 and 1969.

The Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song; explore.vermontfolklifecenter.org/digital-archive/collections/collections/show/1

Field recordings of French-language songs made by the late Franco-American performer and cultural advocate Martha Pellerin. Collection also includes manuscripts of lyrics donated by Pelleriin.

Revitalizing Franco-American Song in the Champlain Valley of Vermont; vermontfolklifecenter.org/revitalizing-franco-american-song 

Recordings, notation, transcriptions and translations of 12 Franco-American songs

Middlebury College: Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection; middlebury.edu/library/special-collections/collections/flanders

Recordings of Vermont and New England folk songs made between 1930 and 1960 by Helen Hartness Flanders (1890-1972). One of the most significant folk song collections in the United States.

The Vermont Folklife Center’s mission is to broaden, strengthen, and deepen our understanding of Vermont; to assure a repository for our collective cultural memory; and to build connections among the diverse peoples of Vermont.

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