Canadian Society for Traditional Music/La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales

Canadian Society for Traditional Music/La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales. Formerly known as the Canadian Society for Musical Traditions.

Canadian Society for Traditional Music/La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales

Canadian Society for Traditional Music/La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales. Formerly known as the Canadian Society for Musical Traditions. Established on the initiative of Maud Karpeles and Marius Barbeau at a meeting in the National Museum in Ottawa 20 Sep 1956 as the Canadian branch of the International Folk Music Council. The name Canadian Folk Music Society/Société canadienne de musique folklorique was adopted soon afterwards, and in 1957 the society became autonomous, though it remained affiliated for some time with the International Folk Music Council. It was incorporated in 1966. The first president was Marius Barbeau 1956-63.

Membership grew from 80 in the first year to 220 in 1961, to 303 individuals and 93 institutions in 1979. The first annual meeting took place at Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask, in 1957. Subsequent meetings have been held most frequently in Ottawa but have been held in various regions of the country since the mid-1970s. Among the original aims were the encouragement of research, the utilization of folk and native song, and the representation of the profession vis-à-vis the Canada Council, then recently established. The basic aims were defined later as the encouragement of "the study, appreciation and enjoyment of the folk music of Canada in all its aspects" and the promotion of "publication and performance of Canadian folk music." Upon revision of the constitution in 1987, the goals were redefined as "the study and promotion of musical traditions of all cultures and communities in all their aspects." The activities of the society have predominantly reflected the interests of those members who are ethnomusicologists and those who study traditional and contemporary folk music.

During its first years, the society's main project was the organization of the IFMC's 14th annual conference in Quebec City, 28 Aug-3 Sep 1961, the theme being the meeting of the old and new worlds. Later, the society concentrated on problems of research and publication and for some years was successful in obtaining grants from certain provinces to send scholars on field trips. In 1967 it co-sponsored a Centennial Workshop on Ethnomusicology at the University of British Columbia (June 19-23), organized by Ida Halpern. The Canada Council enabled the society to undertake a 'National Bibliography of Canadian Folk Music,' but in 1990 the compilation, consisting of some 1,600 articles, treatises, songbooks, arrangements, recordings, and films, remained incomplete as a card file housed at the National Library of Canada, with entries being added only occasionally. A less ambitious but useful bibliography is A Reference List on Canadian Folk Music, compiled by Edith Fowke and Barbara Cass-Beggs (1966, 1973, and revised in 1978). The society also issued Kenneth Peacock'sA Practical Guide for Folk Music Collectors (1966).

In July 1965 a Newsletter/Bulletin began appearing irregularly (usually twice a year), and in 1973 the Canadian Folk Music Journal, edited by Edith Fowke, began its annual appearances. Volume 1 contains the 1973 version of the Fowke/Cass-Beggs bibliography, and volume 6 the 1978 revised version. The English name was changed to Canadian Journal for Traditional Music in 1996. The Bulletin, which became a quarterly in 1981, is known today as the Canadian Folk Music magazine.

During the early 1980s, the society continued its anglophone and francophone orientation, with its membership drawn almost exclusively from these dominant cultures. Attempts were made to identify amateur musicians who had revived interest in the older musical traditions (they were sometimes known as 'revival singers') and draw them into the society. Recording activity continued and a mail-order service was instigated, with more than 300 records, tapes, and books made available to the membership.

During the latter half of the decade, members searched for a better definition of folk music, questioning, among other things, whether folk music should include popular music or professional activity and whether mode of transmission (oral voices written) was a factor in this definition. Viewpoints appeared in the Bulletin and Journal, but no widespread consensus emerged. It was clear, however, that francophones disliked the existing translation 'musique folklorique,' a term commonly used to designate a more commercial type of folk music. In an effort to address this concern, the society decided in 1988 to change the French name to La Société canadienne pour les traditions musicales; the English equivalent, Canadian Society for Musical Traditions, was adopted in 1989. With this name change came a broadening of scope to accommodate other ethnic musics. A merger with a group representing Canadian ethnomusicologists followed in 1990. The merger and renaming were ratified at a national meeting in Calgary in October 1990, and at that same meeting the CSMT decided to apply for affiliation with the ICTM. The English name was changed again in 1994 to Canadian Society for Traditional Music.