UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Adaptation and creativity in Montreal's West African music scene Kelley, Michael Alexander


This thesis is an ethnography of Montreal’s West African music scene. Through participant observation, interviews, and research I provide a view of how African musicians have adapted their music to a new environment. Special focus is given to how African music was constructed and perceived by African performers, though attention is also paid to their Québecois counterparts. I discuss how an array of interpretations about the meaning and form of African music co-exists, forming part of a larger musical discourse that gives shape to a style of African music unique to Québec. I first provide an overview of the African music scene, describing its major venues, events, and performers. Next, I describe the style of African music that takes place there, an adaptation of Malian and Guinean popular music. I also describe the efforts of Québecois musicians to reimagine African music for their own use, offering up a very different interpretation than that given by Africans in Montreal. Through collective interpretation, African and Canadian musicians in Montreal have built an innovative and interesting music scene that is still developing. This scene relies on a productive discourse between African musicians, Québecois performers of African music, and the larger audience for African music in Montreal.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada