MUSICS IN THE MARGIN
Outsider Art Music has unfortunately not had a Harry Smith or an Alan Lomax to discover unpretentious talent, those two ‘folksong hunters’ who had realized the importance of making recordings to serve collective memory. One of them gave us the essential Anthology of American Folk Music (1952), an absolute reference for the folk movement, while the other made recordings all over the world and became an absolute reference for world music. And that is why the sound of Adolf Wölfi blowing into a cardboard tube to play his enigmatic scores, or the threnodies of Arthur K. Ferris played on his giant violins with their insides covered with writings and holy texts, will never be heard again. However, thanks to recent developments in technology and a growing interest in outsider music, a few of these unusual performers are beginning to be recorded. We have taken this opportunity to include several such sound pieces in our compilation. The composers live in highly individualistic worlds. Faithful to our precepts, we search out self-taught musicians. That means people who make contemporary music outside the customary production and distribution channels and with the determination and creative gifts that stem from unmistakable artistic talent. Some of these musicians operate in mental or social isolation and make their music in special workshops while others can be classified with the spiritualist or visionary artists. Others again, like Daniel Johnston and Wesley Willis, have become cult figures, a reference for underground and alternative musicians. Like the surrealist and expressionist artists, who were amazed by the strangeness and authenticity of work made in asylums, many members of today’s music scene get inspiration from such ‘outsider’ music and feel it comes from another world. The recordings are of several kinds. In some cases less than 100 copies were pressed, or even just one copy, and they have never been distributed outside the circle of family and friends. In any case they were never intended to be listened to by a wider, impersonal audience. The process is more important than the result. In fact some authors, like Konstantin Raudive, have never claimed that their experimental sound pieces are to be regarded as music. This particular relationship with the creative process is a fundamental characteristic of outsider art.