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Cultures of sound

MMaP a partner of unique, cross-sector and international collaboration


By Jeff Green

The Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) at Memorial is one of four partners of a new international collaboration.

MMaP has collaborated with the Sound Studies Initiative at the University of Alberta, the Canadian Museum of History and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage through its Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to form the Cultures of Sound Network.

Dr. Harris Berger is the director of MMaP at Memorial.
Photo: Chris Hammond

The network’s goal is to develop new research and public engagements projects in the area of music, sound and culture.

The international partnership will further boost Memorial’s worldwide reputation for leading-edge research on music and culture. It will also bring historic field recordings to new audiences and provide opportunities for Memorial graduate students to serve as interns at the world’s largest museum complex and research organization.

“Across Canada and around the world, Memorial has a reputation as a centre for cutting-edge research on music and culture,” said Dr. Harris Berger, Canada research chair in ethnomusicology, professor of music and folklore and director of MMaP.

“The network will help to increase the university’s prominence in this area and increase the impact of our research and public engagement projects. It will also give our students and faculty new opportunities to make connections with colleagues and develop new initiatives.”

Sharing resources

Through the cross-sector partnership, organizations will be able to share resources and develop exciting projects, including audio and video recordings as well as websites of music from North America and around the world, educational and outreach initiatives, public programs and music repatriation projects.

Dr. Meghan Forsyth, project co-ordinator with MMaP, says the collaboration is highly significant.

Dr. Forsyth says everyone is excited to have entered into the unique partnership, which engages researchers, producers, creators, museum personnel and the public.

Dr. Meghan Forsyth
Dr. Meghan Forsyth
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“The network will bring together complementary resources and skills that will further projects initiated by each institution, with the goal of increasing understanding and public access of music and sound archives in Canada and around the world,” she said.

“Our institutions share a common mandate of preserving and disseminating cultural heritage, as well as a strong commitment to public engagement, and this work will be enhanced through our collective sharing of ideas and expertise.”

Significant collaborations

Several projects are already in the works, including several led by Memorial.

MMaP is collaborating with the Canadian Museum of History to create an online archive of historic field recordings of music and narrative from Gaelic speaking communities in Canada.

As part of the Cultures of Sound Network, Memorial is collaborating with the Canadian Museum of History to create an online archive of historic field recordings of music and narrative from Gaelic speaking communities in Canada.
From left, Spencer Crewe, digital audio studio co-ordinator, and Dr. Meghan Forsyth at MMaP.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“Collected in the 1950s by eminent Gaelic scholar Gordon MacLennan, the recordings provide powerful insights into one facet of Canada’s cultural tapestry and have never been widely available before,” explained Dr. Berger.

Another project is a CD of songs of the Gros Morne region of Newfoundland, with rare archival recordings from the Canadian Museum of History archives. As well, MMaP has been working with Folkways Records to send Memorial University graduate students for intensive internship opportunities at the Smithsonian.

Dr. Berger calls the CSN an “extraordinary opportunity” for Memorial to be at the forefront of developing “innovative educational initiatives around music and culture.

“The network will enable broader public access to the research and outreach projects begun by each institution.”

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