Music of Canada


Canadian music includes pop and folk genres; the latter includes forms derived from England, France (particularly in Quebec), Scotland, and various Inuit and Native American ethnic groups

Folk music

Canadian folk music encompasses the singer-songwriter genre (Bruce Cockburn, Joni Mitchell, Stan Rogers, Stephen Fearing, The McGarrigles, etc.), as well as traditional music such as the Celtic folk of the Maritimes and Newfoundland, the Acadian tradition of New Brunswick, the French Canadian folk of Quebec, and the aboriginal folk traditions of the First Nations and the Inuit. Especially in the 1990s, it was very common for folk-inspired artists in Canada to combine folk traditions with a rock or pop approach -- this can be seen in the folk-rock of Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea, La Bottine Souriante and Ashley MacIsaac, as well as the pop of The Rankin Family, The Barra MacNeils, Kashtin, Natalie MacMaster, Loreena McKennitt and Susan Aglukark. There is a well-established circuit of summer folk festivals in cities across the country, which are often open to blues and country artists as well as folk musicians.

Maritime music

The Maritime Provinces of Canada are culturally marked by the strong influence of Scottishand Irishsettlers. Cape Breton Islandis especially well-known for the Scottish influx in the late 18thand early 19th century. Scottish-style fiddle music, sometimes accompanied by the piano, was popular at the time, and these traditions survive today -- in some cases, like Cape Breton Island, Scottish folk traditions are better-maintained than in Scotland itself.

The last two decades of the 20th century saw a revival in Maritime Celtic music, spurred by a wave of similar roots revivalsin Quebecand the rest of Canada, Scotland, Ireland and the United States. Rufus Guinchard, a seventy-two year old fiddler from Daniel's Harbour, became the mentor for a new generation of bands from Newfoundlandand the other Maritime provinces. The first major band to appear was Figgy Duff, whose career began in the late 1970s. Figgy Duff played jigs and reels, accompanied by drumsand an accordion, and sang songs in both English and French.

By the late 1980s, Cape Breton had produced two minor crossover acts in The Rankins and Barra MacNeils, setting the stage for the mainstream breakthrough of Ashley MacIsaac in the mid-1990s. MacIsaac has incorporated a punk rockspirit into his traditional-style fiddling, and found a new legion of fans.

Other modern performers have continued to add new influences to traditional Maritime music, including hip hopbeats and Gaeliclyrics in Mary Jane Lamond's Suas e!, Western classical music in Puirt a Baroque's Bach Meets Cape Breton and Middle Eastern musical influences in Laurel MacDonald's Chroma. Halifaxhas become a center for music in the Maritime provinces, and also has music arriving from African immigrants, as well as gospel music from a variety of backgrounds. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have seen a roots revival of their own Acadian traditions, dating back to before the French settlers of the area were expelled to Louisiana and became the Cajuns. Barachois is probably the leading band of this revival, while The Gallants and The Arsenaults are two of the most famous Acadien musical families of the East Coast.

Quebec music

French immigrants to Quebec established their musical forms in the future province, but there was no scholarly study until Ernest Gagnon's 1865 collection of 100 folk songs. In 1967, Radio-Canada released The Centennial Collection of Canadian Folk Songs (much of which was focused on French-Canadian music), which helped launch a revival of Quebec folk. Singers like Yves Albert, Edith Butler and, especially, Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault, helped lead the way. The 1970s saw purists like La Rêve du Diable and La Bottine Souriante continued the trend. As Quebec folk continued to gain in popularity, artists like Harmonium, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jim Corcoran, Bertrand Gosselin and Paul Piche found a mainstream audience.



  • (solisti)  

  • (gruppi)


  • (cordofoni)

  • (aerofoni)

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni)

  • (idiofoni)

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