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CanCon on the Web: A Survey of Freely-Available Musical Canadiana

From: Notes
Volume 64, Number 2, December 2007
pp. 344-351 | 10.1353/not.2007.0150

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Information about Canadian music can be an elusive commodity. Perhaps this is due to our self-deprecating nature, or our longstanding tendency to wait until our artists succeed elsewhere before we favor them with our support. Readers may be surprised to learn that a percentage of Canadian Content (or CanCon) is legislated for both radio and television broadcasters—and has been so since 1971. (The percentages vary by medium; see http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/b306.htm.) Given the current crop of homegrown superstars who have garnered international success, such as Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, and Diana Krall, there are those who want the legislation amended so that CanCon would once again return to its original function of supporting emerging artists (see http://www.letsfixcancon.ca/). If this amendment were made, superstars' air-time would be discounted from the CanCon equation, thereby creating a larger available percentage for broadcasting the music of developing artists. History lesson aside, the task of locating Canadian Content on the Web may be enhanced with some assistance. This article, derived from a presentation at the 2005 annual meeting of the Music Library Association (in Vancouver), offers an overview of freely-available Web sites containing a diverse range of Canadian music information. All Web sites were accessed and evaluated as of June 2007.

The Institute for Canadian Music (ICM), University of Toronto, provides a good starting point with its classified list of links (http://www.utoronto.ca/icm/links.html). The ICM's headings include: Publications Available Online; Bibliographies Available Online; Canadian Music and Musicians; Canadian Music Journals Available Online; Organizations—Cultural, Musical; General Canadiana; and Slightly Off the Beaten Track. My list differs somewhat, offering free sites only, primarily English-language, and specifically those with particular resonance for front-line reference staff.

Canadian Aboriginal Music

New since my 2005 presentation is an impressive pair of complementary Web sites: Native Dance (http://www.nativedance.ca/) and Native Drums (http://www.nativedrums.ca/). Content is provided by Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario; editorial board: Dr. Elaine Keillor; Clealls (Dr. John Medicine Horse Kelly); Dr. Franziska von Rosen) with support from Canada's Department of Heritage. Each site may be searched separately, or simultaneously, using the Canadian Aboriginal Research Database (CARD), which provides access to some 3,000 textual records. In addition, the CARD—Image and Media Database offers more than 1,000 keyword-searchable photographs, audio, and video clips. Both sites offer bibliographies, interviews, music, images, videos, stories, curriculum resources for teachers, scholarly essays, and a convenient button to navigate to the companion site. Native Dance is organized by individual nations: e.g., Mi'kmaq, Dene, Innu, Algonquin. The search form provides several filters, particularly useful should one know the name of the contributing institution. The sites' design offers the option to resize the text via buttons (for the visually-challenged user), and is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, employing style sheets that can be turned off without affecting functionality. The Native Drums Web site is also available in French, and plans are underway to make Native Dance available in French. Wonderfully easy to navigate and an extremely attractive presentation.

The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture (http://www.metismuseum.ca/) comes to us courtesy of the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies and Applied Research. Divided into a number of sections, the site includes "Indigenous Voices," "Artistic Expressions" (beadwork and art), and "Learning Resources." Since "No Métis cultural gathering is complete unless it is accompanied by fiddle music, jigging or dancing" (http://www.metismuseum.ca/ exhibits/celebration/), the "Métis Celebration" section offers video, audio, print, and visual files, which honor Métis music, dance, and storytelling. The "Moccasin Telegraph" presents dozens of links to additional sites with educational and historical content on the Métis lifestyle, many of which feature music. A very attractive site.

Canadian Composer Information

Locating information about living composers of any nation is often challenging. Today, the most profitable means of doing so may well be to perform a Google search, or to search LexisNexis for concert reviews and announcements. Canadians are fortunate to have a resource dedicated to collecting and promoting the music...



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