A DVD example to help focus the discussion a bit: The Band on the Festival Express tour, 1970. • We'll come back to all this in detail throughout the course, but for now need to think a little about what it means for a course to be about "Canadian" music. That is, how do we decide what to cover? For each of the following, discuss examples and also how important they may be to a course that wants to be "Canadian" in some definite way…
Artists who just happen to be of Canadian origin. • Artists who succeed outside of Canada, and who seem to be somehow distinctive relative to the places they succeed (i.e. who seem to have something about their style which might possibly be called "Canadian"). • Styles or artists which are well-known only within Canada. • Canadian interpretations or inflections of styles originally developed elsewhere. • Distinctive styles of Canadian origin which have become influential elsewhere.
In all of this, I am going to keep coming back to some key underlying theoretical ideas… • Invented tradition: Histories and traditions are invented, negotiated, and always changing. They are not absolutes. • Dialogismof meaning: People never share exactly the same experiences or meanings. But people do nonetheless negotiate common agreements which allow for communication and co-habitation. So investigations of identity are always about sketching these negotiations, never about discovering essential features. • The idea of Canada as a cultural mosaic dating back to Victoria Hayward, 1922. -- What factors lead to this? • "Music in Canada" rather than "Canadian music" (I'm paraphrasing Ryan Edwardson here). • A disclaimer regarding singulars and plurals. • Saying "music is culture" rather than "music reflects culture."
For much of the 20th century, one thing that defined several subgenres of Canadian popular music was their close relationship to folk music. Also, ideas of folk music and folk music repertoires have played an especially prominent role in certain eras of Canadian broadcasting. • So for these reasons, as well as because of the generally-historical organization of this course, we can start by looking at some aspects of Canadian folk music with an eye towards two things... • How folk songs and genres can be a window into the general historical and contextual factors we need to discuss in understanding Canadian cultures. • How folk culture overlaps in certain cases with "popular" culture.
One type: folk songs brought over and preserved almost unchanged from the old world… • Audio: "The False Knight Upon The Road."This is a Nova Scotia variant of a very old British ballad (one of the oldest suriving ballads). It also has a dance component (doing a jig during the nonsense syllables). • Overheads: Three voyageur paintings by Frances Anne Hopkins. • Audio: "Dansles prisons de Nantes."This is an Acadian variant of a common song, originating in France probably during the 17th century. Often used as a paddling song by voyageurs.
Another type: Folk songs which participate in and/or tell specific elements of Canadian history. • Audio: "The Ballad of New Scotland."Was written and spread in England in the 1750s as part of the then-recent settlement drive (part of the struggle between British and French). Became quite popular, and was brought over by immigrants who continued to sing it in Canada. • Overhead: The Death of General Wolfe, Benjamin West, 1770. • Audio: "Brave Wolfe."Probably one of the first native Anglo-Canadian ballads, composed shortly after 1759 (the year in which James Wolfe died at the Plains of Abraham, which was right around the midpoint of the Seven Years' War). Popular throughout the North American British colonies, and especially in the Maritimes.
Audio: "We'll Sell The Pig."Recorded by William Riley in the 1940s in Nova Scotia, who was 87 years old at the time. Part of the heritage of anti-slavery songs brought by Black Loyalists (beginning around 1775) and other early black immigrants from the U.S. • Audio: "Un Canadienerrant."This song was written in 1842 by a young law student, based on an existing folk tune, and is about the Mackenzie-Papineau rebellion of 1837-38. A version of the song became the Acadian national song in 1844, although the original was not about the Acadians, who had been expelled beginning in 1755. • Also, notice the range of arrangement and performance styles in the recordings we just heard. What do those tell us about contexts, and about the diffusion of folk music into various situations.
A few more general remarks about Canadian folksong… • From 1950 to the mid-1960s Folkways Records had a very active Canadian branch operation, and the CBC also became active in promoting folk music. Note, this was happening at the same time that the urban folk movement was gaining considerable steam in the U.S. and in a few Canadian areas like Yorkville Village. • One thing we'll see when we look more closely at the 1960s: in general, Canadian folk music culture wasn't as radical in its associations as in the states. In both cases folklore was adopted to a degree as "official" culture, but this happened more seamlessly in Canada than in the U.S. • A related question: assuming for the sake of discussion that folk song has been of special importance to Canadian culture at least through the mid 20th century, why might that be?
Fiddling was one of the earliest Canadian musical traditions, brought over by the first immigrants. Originally there were British, Scottish, and French traditions, all somewhat distinct and all also experiencing American and Native influence. Afterwards came Irish influences, and a little after that German and Ukrainian and various other European styles (we will talk about immigration patterns in another lecture, and the timeline will come into focus then). • This has produced a wide range of regional styles. By the late 20th century many commentators spoke in terms of six main fiddle style families in Canada…
French-Canadian (Québec and Acadia). • Native and Métis. • Cape Breton (includes PEI, Newfoundland, and parts of the Northeastern USA). • "Down East," (includes other Maritimes, Ontario, and parts of the West). • Ukrainian (many parts of the prairies). • Country and Western. Not so much a geographical locus as a commercial one. • To get a general feeling for some of the distinctions, here are examples of three different styles...
Audio: "Lord Gordon Reel" • An example of the Down-East style. Generally smooth bowing, not too many ornaments. • Audio: "Violin en dischorde" • An example of the French-Canadian style. The main feature here is the clogging (done by the fiddler while seated). • Audio: "Fiddle Medley" • An example of the Cape Breton style. Highly ornamented, lots of short/sharp strokes.
Overheads: Don Messer promo montage and performance shot. • Don Messer doesn't quite fit into any particular style, more of a synthesizer although he is closest to the Down East sound. Can also hear the commercial/professionalization influence here: we will discuss him again when we talk about broadcasting, since he was one of the most popular radio and TV entertainers of early Canadian broadcasting. • Audio: Don Messer "Poor Girl Waltz." This is an Andy DeJarlis tune: waltzes were especially popular among Western fiddlers, partly because of the Ukrainian influence. • Audio: Don Messer "Riley's Favourite Reel."
During the 1930s and 1940s, one notable development throughout North America was the commercialization of folk culture, and especially the emergence of many singer/songwriters who wrote new material which reflected or imitated folk styles, thus creating many folk/contemporary hybrids (while often still presenting themselves as extenders of the folk tradition rather than transformers of it). This was important both for the way it changed the meaning of “folk” music, and also for the way it led to genres like country. • Audio: "The Squid Jiggin' Ground."One of the best-known Nfld. songs, words written by a 15-year old student in 1928 to an existing fiddle tune. • Audio: Wade Hemsworth "The Blackfly Song."Made his living drafting for Ontario Hydro and the CNR. Became interested in folk music during the 1940s, and wrote several songs that became standards. Didn't perform live much, and only recorded one record. This song was written in 1949.
Overhead: Madame Bolduc • From a working class background with a large family, only began to perform in public when she was already in her 30s and a mother, largely out of a need for money. Started recording her own songs in 1929, and sold an unprecedented number of records in Québec. Became perhaps the earliest of the highly successful chansonnières, and one of the most influential figures in 1930s Québec. (Also, discuss some similarities between her and Woody Guthrie). • Audio: Madame Bolduc "Çavavenir, decouragez-vouspas" (1930) • One of her characteristic devices was the use of turlutages. This kind of style (rhythmic mouth music without real words) is widely distributed in Canadian folk traditions. • Madame Bolduc "Reel turluté" (1930)