Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology

By Diamond, Beverley | Ethnologies, Spring-Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology

Diamond, Beverley, Ethnologies

Like most Canada Research Chairs, I have been involved with an array of curricular and community initiatives, as well as new research and new reflective / interpretive work. The primary work in each of these areas is described below.

Our Space

In order to have the studio facilities, meeting space, and resources to undertake a wide array of projects, I established the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) at Memorial University ( The MMaP Centre was officially constituted in January 2003 and, after several years of operating in rather cramped quarters, it has recently moved into new facilities in the Arts and Culture Centre of St. John's. We now have, in addition to office space, a multimedia library, audio restoration facility, multimedia production studio with excellent video as well as audio capability, and a "gallery" space that we use for workshops, media training sessions, small performances, and guest lectures.

The MMaP Research Centre is now viewed within the province as an interface between the university and local communities, a mobilizer of Applied Ethnomusicology projects, and a collaborator in the organization of numerous conferences, concerts and festivals. "Our space," then, operates with a philosophy that differs from "myspace": it is responsible to the community (with community representation on the executive board as well as a committee of regional representatives) and is prepared to serve their interests wherever possible.

Reaching Out

A major initiative that ties directly to the research program described below has been to enable better public access to archival resources at Memorial University, particularly the large audio collection of MUNFLA, the Folklore and Language Archive of Memorial University. We initiated production of an archival CD series in 2004. Each CD is packaged in a DVD case to allow sufficient space for extensive print documentation (usually a booklet of approximately 50 pages). Furthermore, each CD has developed a specific theme that represents a shared concern of academics and practitioners: diverse definitions of "tradition" and "modernity," for instance, or the nature of the Newfoundland song canon. Our first two releases, It's Time for Another One: Folk Songs from the South Coast of Newfoundland and Folklore of Newfoundland and Labrador: A Sampler of Songs, Narrations, and Tunes, are distributed nationally by Landwash Distribution (www. Three more CDs are in various stages of planning or preparation: one is a re-release of a popular local radio program, Saturday Nite Jamboree, packaged with a booklet on the history of early radio in the province; a second is a Canada-wide anthology of traditional fiddling and related instrumental practices, with an emphasis on cultural diversity and little known archival sources; the third will feature archival recordings of Atlantic Canadian Mi'kmaw song. Most of the CDs have had guest producers and several have been collaborations. The fiddle anthology, for instance, is being produced with support from Folkways Alive and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

In addition to the CD series, the MMaP Centre has developed a website with the earliest audio recordings made in Atlantic Canada. MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada ( leach) was launched in 2004 with over 300 audio clips, community profiles, biographies of artists and considerable historical and contextual material. Both English and Gaelic language material is included. It was expanded and updated for a relaunch in 2006 and will shortly migrate to the Digital Archive Initiative of the Memorial University libraries. The website has served both as a source of information about songs and a key to university holdings that are of interest to Newfoundland and Labrador families. With much appreciated cooperation of MUNFLA, the MMaP Research Centre has made copies of archival recordings for family members who contact us--over four dozen to date. …

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