Keynote “Caring with People Making Music” – Jeff Todd Titon (Brown University)

Applied ethnomusicologists and public folklorists in North America know that repeated visits to a musical community, with resultant friendships between culture workers and people making music, can lead to partnerships involving joint curation with goals of music-culture integrity and sustainability in the face of disturbance and change. Yet outer-directed strategies for achieving those goals, such as marking traditions as intangible cultural heritage for a creative, tourist-oriented economy, have had problematic consequences. Inner-directed resilience strategies aimed at achieving continuity in the political, economic, cultural and ecological as well as musical characteristics of each community offer a more promising alternative.

Local Integrity and National Collections: Getting at Nuance and Complexity 

This panel will feature several local events, online resources and cross-institutional collaborations concerning collections of intangible cultural heritage from Maritime Canada. Through recent virtual exhibit projects the Beaton Institute, Cape Breton’s regional archive, will provide examples that address the archival considerations when curating digital exhibits using sound recordings and cultural collections. The panel will have participation from the Fortress Louisbourg Association discussing the development and piloting of a new festival Roots to Boots; the Nova Scotia Highland Village’s Gaelic language ‘An Drochaid Eadarainn’ project will be presented as an example of language preservation through digital collections and finally, CBC Cape Breton representative will present on the corporation’s work with regional archives as partners in preserving sound archives.

Judith Klassen will act as respondent to the local projects convened. Drawing from her work with the Canadian Museum of History, she will build on some of the ideas and questions that initiatives raise vis-à-vis regionally, culturally, and linguistically distinct objects and archival materials.

Catherine Arseneau, Beaton Institute

Wendy Bergfeldt, CBC Cape Breton

Mitchell McNutt, Fortress Louisbourg Association

James Watson, Nova Scotia Highland Village and

Marlene Ivey, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Respondent, Judith Klassen, Canadian Museum of History

Mobilizing communities and cultural knowledge: (preliminary launch and workshops) – Marcia Ostashewski (Cape Breton U) is a web portal that attends to Eastern and Central European communities and cultures in Cape Breton, expanding the ethnocultural profile of the island beyond more familiar Scottish, Acadian and Mi’kmaq groups. This portal project arises in the context of ongoing collaborations with local communities that mobilize existing and emerging research. In this session, Ostashewski, who leads the project research and development teams, will describe the community engagement and development of the portal. She will introduce the portal for a preliminary launch limited to the pre-conference workshop delegates, its various repository and interactive resource components, including the a multimedia map and virtual world that will be addressed in subsequent presentations. (Feedback from workshop delegates will be integrated into the web portal prior to its public launch in August 2015 at a major in-community event.)

Doing Creative Media Ethnography – Ely Rosenblum (Cambridge University)

This workshop teaches the basics of audiovisual media and their implementation in locative technologies and free software for enriching research representations of ethnographic engagements. Ely Rosenblum will provide participants with instruction on working with portable recorders, point of view cameras, mobile phones, tablets and computer to create and interact with media. Part of this workshop is an introduction to sound mapping, presenting a step-by-step introduction to collecting, organizing and presenting ethnographic materials.

3 – 5 pm Curating Ethnomusicology in Cyberworlds: “World Music in Wonderland” (presentation, workshops)

Presenters: Rasika Ranaweera (University of Aizu), Michael Frishkopf (University of Alberta), Michael Cohen (University of Aizu)

(Abstract to come)


Translating Fieldwork – Sam Lee, James McDonald (Song Collectors Collective)

The London-based Song Collectors Collective (SCC) is an open-source online resource of British, Irish and Scottish traveler communities’ music, run by Mercury prize nominee and founder of the Nest Collective Sam Lee, and filmmaker and singer James McDonald.

Together, Sam and James specialize in galvanising communities around the participants, contributing to making “song collecting” less a disciplinary method of folkloric research, and more of a movement towards greater social understanding. Their activities include making recordings, developing a Creative Commons licensed website, curating oral histories through new media, and developing song collecting methodologies with Irish Traveller communities. The SCC hosts a conference each year, detailing their own research and teaching aspiring folklorists the process of collecting, cataloguing and archiving materials. This workshop features the research they have conducted with traveler communities across the UK and Ireland, bringing their music to public audiences for the first time.

Film Screening and Interactive Media Workshop – Dana Dansereau (National Film Board of Canada)

With an emphasis on the experimental, Dana Dansereau Producer/Creative Technologist from the National Film Board’s Digital Studio will review a number of interactive documentary and interactive animation projects built for desktop, tablet and installation. Using its unique processes and technological know-how, the NFB’s commitment to creative forms of storytelling innovates in the realm of cinema and interactive storytelling. This workshop will present a diverse set of interactive multimedia – interactive documentaries, video and animations, photographic art and essays, data visualizations, mobile and locative media, community media, and user-generated media – as well as provide scholars and media makers with an outline of the desirable qualities a production should possess.

Song Mapping / Song Tagging (1 of 2) – Dylan Robinson (Stó:lō, Queen’s University), Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Métis)

Cultural Graffiti. During the Summer of 2013 artist Peter Morin participated in an artist residency at the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project at Royal Holloway, University of London (UK). Out of this residency emerged his Cultural Graffiti series that took the form of singing Tahltan songs to British landmarks (the Houses of Parliament, Magna the Carta monument, and Buckingham Palace) while a separate group of public interventions involved singing to Indigenous monuments (Pocahontas’ gravesite and Kwakwaka’wakw carver Mungo Martin’s Totem Pole in Great Windsor Park). In both cases, Morin envisioned his interventions not as performances for audiences, but as a form of communicating with our other-than-human relations (both colonial ancestors and Indigenous objects). Each sites visit resulted in different strategies of song intervention: for the colonial monuments he visited, Morin used his voice to “tag” the monuments with the Talhtan national anthem. To conclude his interventions Morin stated “We are still here”. In those interventions to colonial monuments, this phrase was an assertion of survivance, while in those visits to Indigenous sites, the phrase enacted forms of Indigenous nation-to-nation contact with ancestors, assuring them they were not alone despite the distance from their homelands and communities. These urban interventions became a kind of graffiti, an ephemeral form of song-tagging. While Peter Morin is unable to attend on this day, Dylan Robinson will provide a presentation on his work.

Nikamon Ohci Askiy (songs because of the land): Conversation between Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Métis) and Dylan Robinson. This project explored the relationship between sound, space and identity as experienced through a Cree worldview. By creating a “performative audio map”, L’Hirondelle negotiated a journey through Vancouver’s downtown eastside, developing a nomadic relationship with the land. Her actions/singing were in direct response to her encounters within the territory – the physical environment she finds herself in and its inhabitants. During the month of December, L’Hirondelle made daily journeys throughout the downtown eastside to “sing” the landscape she encountered. These encounters will be captured by mobile phone by the artist and whatever other technologies are made available by participating viewers/audience (video, photo, audio). Additionally, they resulted in an interactive online project:

Song Mapping / Song Tagging (1 of 2) – Amber Ridington (Memorial U Newfoundland, and independent folklorist). 

Following the trail of Song in Doig River First Nation’s online exhibition: Dane Wajich – Dane-zaa Stories and Songs: Dreamers and the Land. (

Dane Wajich means, “The people speak.” This community-directed exhibition is built around oral histories and songs connected to seven places in the First Nation’s territory. The central “Places” page contains a map that voices the Dane-zaa place name as the user journeys over the map of the land with the cursor. The user is then lead by hyperlinks to watch and listen to performances of Dreamers’ songs associated with that place. Each place is also accompanied by oral histories, interpretive text, and archival and contemporary images that showcase some of the First Nation’s experience(s) there. Along with traditional stories and songs, many of the narratives address concerns faced by the community as they negotiate legacies of colonialism and a changing relationship to the land.

The project represents the possibilities of digital media for indigenous self-documentation and cultural curation. It has extended Dane-zaa oral tradition into the digital realm, and has provided new tools to teach and disseminate traditional knowledge no longer learned through intensive immersion.

Amber will draw upon the concepts of oral curation and digital curation and use these ideas as a springboard for discussion about the possibilities of digital media for mapping traditional songs.

Contested Spaces of Song Making: Between Protocol and Innovation – Amber Ridington (Memorial U Newfoundland), Jennifer Himmelreich (San Jose State University) Cheryl L’Hirondelle (Cree/Métis)

This workshop focuses on the ways in which artists, singers, curators and ethnomusicologists are working with Indigenous song archives, creating new song repertoires, and ‘re-activating’ songs within the various communities in which they live and work. Our focus will be on the often precarious processes of working with songs to create new works, teaching songs to members of Indigenous communities, while navigating cultural and community protocols.

  • – L’Hirondelle’s work developing new songs with Indigenous women in prisons.
  • – Review of digital curation/archive tools currently available – folklorist Amber Ridington and Navaho archivist Jennifer Himmelreich

Conversations with the workshop participants will encourage sharing knowledge about the ways in which indigenous groups are working to balance protecting and sharing their heritage materials which are more easily distributed in digital forms through the internet than are material objects housed in physical archives and museums. Indigenous experiences and solutions to merging traditional law with western digital rights management protocols and law will be used to inspire dialogue about cultural property rights and protocols, group versus individual intellectual property rights, and copyright issues currently at the forefront of the indigenous digital archive field.

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