Session/Séance 6h: MusCan Panel 2 Traditional Ethnographies in Contemporary Contexts

Session/Séance 6h: MusCan Panel 2. Friday/vendredi 26 May 2017. 3:30 – 4:30 pm, EJB 225
Traditional Ethnographies in Contemporary Contexts
     Chair: DEANNA YERICHUK (University of Alberta)


1. Exilic Soundscapes: Musical Imaginings of a Displaced Homeland
     Michael Turabian, McGill University

Romantic conceptions of the Armenian “home” pervade the texts of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century songs – particularly themes pertaining to homecoming. As Alajaji (2016) argues, the Armenian diaspora have reacted to shifting political realities by clinging to certain musics and other expressive symbols that reflect their shared cultural experience. Building on her research, this paper addresses exile as a pervading theme in the vocal repertory established by the celebrated Armenian ethnographer and composer Komitas Vartabed (1869-1935). Komitas collected folk songs in the Armenian countryside, incorporated them into his compositions, and published them in a series of volumes (1900-15). His contribution to Armenian music, whilst important to present day diasporans, was influenced in part by Western musical practices, particularly his preference for choral music, simplicity and symmetry of rhythm, and notational practices. Indeed, this focus westward can be heard in the 2008 album Gomidas Songs by Canadian Armenian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, whose operatic singing is accompanied by lush orchestral accompaniment. For the exception of Komitas’s compositions, Armenian music of the late nineteenth century was a space for hybridity where Armenian, Turkish, Arab, and Persian influences freely intertwined. I propose that Komitas’ gaze westward should be viewed as a political reaction to neighbouring Eastern aggressors – particularly the Ottoman Empire, and for present-day diasporans the recent conflict with Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Ultimately, Komitas’ historical position at the helm of the Armenian musical tradition was and continues to be brought on discursively underlining music’s delicate relationship to certain cultural realities.


2. True Reflections on Barron’s Reflections of Canada
     Ardelle Ries, University of Alberta

Esteemed Canadian music educator, John Barron (1939-2014), commissioned and edited Reflections of Canada (RofC) – a 3-volume collection of 147 Canadian folk songs arranged for a cappella choirs between 1985 and 1991. Published by Frederick Harris Music, RofC contains folk songs derived from Indigenous, French, and English traditions and was considered to be a fine resource for music educators. In the late 1990s, RofC was declared out-of- print with publishing rights returned to the editor, composers of the arrangements, and other copyright holders. To celebrate confederate Canada at 150 and brought back by popular demand, a two-volume second edition of RofC has been created and will be released by Cypress Music in June 2017. Through narrative and ethnographic inquiry, the factors that influenced the genesis and subsequent demise of the first edition will be discussed, followed by an examination of the process and challenges encountered in the creation of a culturally sensitive second edition that embodies a realistic reflection of 21st-century Canada.



Friday Schedule | Programme - vendredi
(Session 6 | Séance 6)

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