Laura Boltoun in the Frontier of Field Recording

After listening to the recordings in class that week that Rob showed us the one that stuck with me the most was the African recording by Laura Bolton in the early 20th century. It peaked my interest because she was a woman doing something almost 100 years ago that there are still not even that many women doing today so to me that made me think she must have been a very adventurous, spirited and driven woman.

Laura Boulton got into field recording and traveling after she graduated from the Western Reserve University. Laura was also an ornithologist (someone who studies birdcalls) and her love of adventure and ornithology led her on expeditions around the world where she would record various traditional types of folk music and bird calls. On these expeditions she was researching instruments, birdcalls and traditional folk music of the cultures she was studying. When she was out in the field she recorded things using a small cylinder recorder. She also helped publish many articles and films over the years with the music that she recorded and she even wrote an autobiography about her travels and experiences entitled The Music Hunter. To this day her work is still found in various ethnomusicology institutions and museums such as The Library of Congress thanks to the extensive research and over 40 expeditions she did throughout many countries in Africa and different places throughout America.


This is a recording Laura did of the Native American Navajo Tribe’s music and is arguably one of the first recordings of native American music there is.


Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 July 2015

“The Real Song Catchers.” The Real Song Catchers. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015.


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