Somewhere There Creative Music Festival: Main

Jeremy Strachan
   Experimental Music in Canada: Cuts and Continuums

Jeremy Strachan

talk: Saturday 22 February, 7pm

Jeremy Strachan is a PhD Candidate in Musicology at the University of Toronto, writing a dissertation on Udo Kasemets and experimental music in 1960s Toronto. He has articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries forthcoming in Critical Studies in Improvisation, The Modernist World (Routledge), and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. He performs infrequently with Mike Smith, Jim Guthrie, and Toronto's biggest Motown band, The Big Sound.

"In his talk at last year's Somewhere There Creative Music Festival, Martin Arnold "wondered" about an experimental folk music. Many of the sustaining elements which have vitalized experimental music communities, to recall Martin's talk, are also those that define folk music practices the world over: the fruitful couplings of tradition and innovation; continuity and change; familiarity and wonderment. Perhaps most importantly, experimental music's persistence across successive generations of practitioners relies on the mutual influence of new voices on the scene with tradition bearers, bringing embodied historical memory and local knowledge into dialogue with the present. This talk considers some of the cuts and continuums that have shaped experimental music in Canada by examining the intergenerational and translocal nature of those communities that have maintained experimental "traditions." By focusing on Toronto's rich engagement with experimentalism (dating back to the 1950s) as a case study, I look at the emergent priorities that take form and transmute across time according to their historical contingencies. These show us that experimental music is more than a perpetually marginal pursuit cycling in and out of mainstream visibility; rather, the oral histories, artifacts and ephemera that comprise experimental music's archive of memory and material instantiate its fundamentally relational nature."

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