How can the craft of musical instrument making help reconnect people to place and reenchant work in Appalachia? How does the sonic search for musical tone change relationships with trees and forests? Following three craftspeople in the mountain forests of Appalachia through their processes of making instruments, Finding the Singing Spruce: Musical Instrument Makers and Appalachia’s Mountain Forests (West Virginia University Press) considers the meanings of work, place, and creative expression in drawing music from wood.
Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth explores the complexities and contradictions of instrument-making labor, which is deeply rooted in mountain forests and expressive traditions but also engaged with global processes of production and consumption. Using historical narratives and sensory ethnography, among other approaches, he finds that the craft of lutherie speaks to the past, present, and future of the region’s work and nature.
Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth is Visiting Assistant Professor in Comparative Studies and Archivist at the Center for Folklore Studies at The Ohio State University. He currently teaches the Ohio Field School course. He has researched musical and material craft traditions in global contexts through his work with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Cultural History Program and the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology and Appalachian Center, where he earned his PhD in 2019. His recent research interests have involved craft economies and production in global mountain forests, with a focus on Carpathia and Appalachia and collaborative methods.
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