Strings of Life: Conversations with Old-Time Musicians from Virginia and North Carolina

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9780936015491: Strings of Life: Conversations with Old-Time Musicians from Virginia and North Carolina
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This book concerns traditional music in upper North Carolina and southwestern Virginia. The historians are its practitioners. This collection of anecdotes, stories, and utterances came from the musicians as they talked about themselves or about other players with whom they are or were familiar. This historical-musical census-of-sorts cites and identifies more than 1,300 players of traditional music in an area that, in terms of its music, disregards state borders. Of the musicians who could be dated, about 120 were born prior to 1870; at least 400 between 1870 and 1900; and more than 220 after 1900. The majority of these musicians have never before been documented. Of the 1,300, only some fifteen perecent are women; only some five percent are black. This book functions by letting the informants take their lead, and an effort has been made to keep auctorial instrusion to a minimum.

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About the Author:

Kevin Donleavy, an independent historian and musicologist, graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and went on to teach high school in Georgia, Virginia, and Wisconsin. After fifteen years away from the South, Donleavy decided to fill a much-needed space in music history. After relocating, Donleavy spent his time interviewing and playing with old-time musicians from Surry, Stokes, Wilkes, Alleghany, Caswell, Forsyth, and Rockingham counties in North Carolina, and Grayson, Carroll, Withe, and Patrick counties in Virginia. This book, Strings of Life, represents more than fifteen years of Donleavy's research, documenting the lives of ordinary people making exceptional music.

Review:

There were endless ways of getting the young folks together. In the spring there would be grubbings and logrolling; in summer, reapings; and in the fall, corn-shuckings. ...As soon as night came, or the work was done, the fiddle sounded, and they danced and courted all night. --Hardin Taliaferro, Fisher's River Scenes (1858)

I know our readers look forward to this long-anticipated book. --Gail Gillespie, Old-Time Herald

Oral history can give back to the people who made and experienced history, through their own words, a central place. It is about individual lives, and any life is of interest. --Paul Thompson, The Voice of the Past

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