Welta'q -'It Sounds Good:' Historic Recordings of the Mi'kmaq

Tulk, Janice Esther (2007) Welta'q -'It Sounds Good:' Historic Recordings of the Mi'kmaq. Project Report. The Harris Centre.

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In 2004, the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) commenced production of an archival CD series. This initiative aims to recover historically and culturally significant documents for public use, to augment cultural content in the schools, to promote and disseminate the province’s culture to both Newfoundland citizens and beyond, to stimulate new artistic work that builds on earlier traditions, and to contribute to policy development relating to cultural diversity. Welta’q – ‘It Sounds Good’: Historic Recordings of the Mi'kmaq is a research and CD production project designed to contribute to scholarly discussions of indigenous expressive culture while mobilizing cultural material for use by Mi’kmaw communities and educators. This research involves a historical study of archival recordings held in institutions throughout Canada, the analysis Mi’kmaw music and musical genres, and the comparison of past and present repertoires in an effort to illuminate the changes that have occurred over the past 150 years. As the Mi’kmaw language does not have a word for “music,” I hope to work with Mi’kmaw community members to enrich interpretations of archival materials through Mi’kmaw understandings of welta’q (often used in place of the word “music”) which means “it sounds good” (Rosen 1998b). However, because welta’q may also refer to story-telling and other forms of expressive culture that “sound good,” music will not be studied in isolation. In collaboration with Mi’kmaw communities and Mi’kmaw Ethics Watch, the materials produced through this research will be released to the public via a compilation CD of archival and field recordings with extensive documentation, linking songs to contextual information, interpretive materials, and related expressive culture (such as legends or stories). In this way an ethnographic and “ethnosonic” (Getter 1996) resource will be made available for community and educational use, as well as use by the general public. Improved access to previously obscure music will impact cultural revitalization in Mi’kmaw communities, particularly those in Newfoundland, whose cultural renaissance over the past two decades has largely focused on intertribal rather than Mi’kmaq-specific traditions. The proposed research and associated archival CD project will serve to disseminate, promote, and recognize Mi’kmaw culture within Newfoundland and Labrador and the Atlantic Provinces. With more than two dozen tracks, the CDs could serve as instructional aids or provide content for use in the development of curriculum, recognizing the many cultures of Newfoundland. The use of a regional approach rather than a provincial one, however, ensures that the project does not further contribute to the isolation of Newfoundland and Labrador, but instead fosters an understanding of interaction, networking, and exchange between communities. The production of an audio recording with extensive accompanying documentary materials fosters both rural and urban heritage development, as such resources are both inexpensive and easily accessible by anyone on the island. It is hoped that, in the near future, teacher interfaces will be developed for the MMaP archival CD series to better facilitate their use in relation to the revised outcomes recently published by the Ministry of Education.

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Item Type: Report (Project Report)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/215
Item ID: 215
Keywords: Mi'kmaq, Music, Educational resources, Mi'kma'ki, Archives
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Anthropology
Education, Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Divisions > The Harris Centre
Music, School of
Date: 2007
Date Type: Publication
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