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Grateful Dead drummer works to save world's music
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This 1916 image of Frances Densmore and Blackfoot leader Mountain Chief listening to a cylinder recording has become a symbol of the early songcatcher era. For nearly 60 years, Densmore conducted a personal campaign to capture Native American traditional music before it vanished. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress/National Geographic)

St. Paul, Minn. — For nearly three decades, Mickey Hart was the drummer for the Grateful Dead. During that time, he made it a point to introduce audiences to percussion instruments and musical traditions from around the world. Today he's working to preserve and restore history's audio treasures.

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Image Mickey Hart

In his new book, Songcatchers: In Search of the World's Music, Hart chronicles his quest to document sound, and compares his experiences to the audio recordists who went before him. The book, Hart's third, is a collaboration with National Geographic.

Hart is on the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and serves on the leadership committee of Save Our Sounds.

Hart says saving the world's musical heritage is just as important as protecting the air we breathe. He spoke with MPR's All Things Considered host Lorna Benson.

(To listen to the interview, click on the audio link in the right column.)

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