The SOCAN Foundation/ MusCan Awards for Writings on Canadian Music are two $2500 prizes intended to encourage students’ research and writing on Canadian music topics and music professors’ mentorship of students in these endeavors. One prize is for the best English-language paper and one for the best French-language paper. Topics in Canadian music will be understood as potentially deriving from a wide range of genres, including, but not limited to, such areas as concert, folk, jazz, and popular music.

All of the winning papers may be found by following the links below. A summary of all previous winners may be found by following this link.

The Canadian University Music Society gratefully acknowledges the generous financial support of the SOCAN Foundation in the awarding of these prizes.

Vanessa Blais-Tremblay (McGill University), "'Don't Pocahontas Me': Politics of Improvisation in Tanya Tagaq's Throat Games with Concert Stage String Ensembles" (Publication Forthcoming)

In this paper, I propose that the throat games (or canons) performed on the concert stage between Tanya Tagaq and string ensembles provide instructive lessons for postcolonial thinking about social justice and reconciliation between Inuit communities and the South. With the help of detailed musical transcriptions, I look at the politics of improvisation in those exchanges and I trace the power dynamics at play. Who leads the changes in pattern, how often? How well; Who "wins"? Beyond becoming merely a new set of words in the musical vocabularies of southern composers and string ensembles, I suggest that Inuit soundscapes in fact open up a space for true social transformation which challenges and ultimately re-shapes concert stage etiquette and southern culture’s ways of seeing Inuit women and cultural practices.


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