Alan Lomax’s contributions to music and culture have been extraordinary — he was single-handedly responsible for recording and cataloging a huge swath of traditional music, not just in the US, but around the world. Lomax’s brainchild, conceived long before the internet, was a "global jukebox" built to spread the 5,000 hours of sound recordings (plus the 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs) that he put together during his time as an archivist. Well,The New York Times reports that people have already started digitizing Lomax’s entire collection, and about 17,000 tracks are going to be available free for streaming online by the end of February.
Using the Cultural Equity web site, people have been able to listen to Lomax’s music in 45-second snippets for years, but this marks the first time that the whole collection will be made available online. The Times article also looks at Lomax’s early ideas for using computers to analyze and categorize similarities between songs, paving the way for the algorithms used by modern music services like Pandora.