Reflections on the Legacy of R. Murray Schafer:
Concert, September 24, 2022
Study Day, September 30, 2022
In the 1960s, Canadian composer, educator, and writer R. Murray Schafer (1933-2021) developed his theory of sound and ecology, founding the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University which generated the international field of acoustic ecology and impacted the fields of acoustic design, architecture, urban planning, music, and sound art. His magisterial 12-part series of environmental music dramas, Patria (1965-2017) put his ecological insights into action in diverse settings — a city park, a wilderness lake, planting and harvesting a community garden. And his radical approach to experiential and environmental music education similarly informed his work in composition and acoustic ecology. Schafer was a prolific and polemical commentator on music in Canada and on Canadian identity; his views were often controversial, and his ideas have been subject to critique. A year after Schafer’s passing on August 14, 2021, it is timely to reconsider Schafer’s legacy in the context of burgeoning theories of sound, music, and ecology, their intersections with critical theories of race, Indigeneity, colonization, and immigration, and of artistic responses to ecological crisis.
Through a public symposium, lecture recital, and book project, we will examine Schafer’s legacy from diverse perspectives, considering both the undoubted originality, importance, and ongoing influence of his ideas, and the many ways in which they have been engaged, taken in new directions, or rejected. How are scholars, educators, and artists working with, and across the grain of, Schafer’s ideas now? How does his polemic stand up in the current social and cultural context in Canada and internationally? And how can we apply his ecological insights and artistic innovations to address the climate crisis?
Concert: Music and Myth: Remembering R. Murray Schafer (in person)
Saturday, September 24, 2022, 4:00 pm
Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper Street
$15.00 at the door – cash only (free to Carleton University students)
R. Murray Schafer is perhaps best known for his innovative music dramas, based on myths and performed in unusual settings, including a wilderness lake at dawn and Toronto’s Union Station. He also composed an impressive corpus of 13 string quartets. This concert features musicians who collaborated with Schafer and who have an intimate knowledge of his chamber music. Performers include the Molinari String Quartet, Michelle Gott (harp), Lara Deutsch (flute), and Brooke Dufton (soprano). There will be an audience talkback with the artists in Woodside Hall following the performance.
Co-produced by the Research Centre for Music, Sound, and Society in Canada and Ottawa Chamberfest with support from the School for Studies in Art and Culture, and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University.
More information: carleton.ca/mssc/cu-events/concert/
Study Day: R. Murray Schafer’s Ecologies of Music and Sound Re-examined (virtual)
Friday, September 30, 2022, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm (EDT)
Free and open to all
R. Murray Schafer’s Ecologies of Music and Sound Re-examined takes a critical look at three strands of his ideas–music education, acoustic ecology, and environmental music performance–in the context of 21st century society. An eclectic list of presenters include leading scholars and artists–both those who worked directly with/on Schafer, and those who have written across the grain of his ideas. Also included are scholars who don’t connect their work with Schafer, but who are innovating in areas of education, acoustic ecology, and environmental performance. The format is a combination of stimulating 10-minute presentations and discussion.
More information and registration: carleton.ca/mssc/cu-events/study-day/
As a starting point for exploring Schafer’s legacy, we have prepared a selective bibliography of works from the three major areas of acoustic ecology, music education, and environmental music. Our aim is both to reference Schafer’s own work, and to offer a wide variety of perspectives from scholars in music and sound studies. Where extensive bibliographic resources already exist (such as the library of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology), we have chosen to provide a link rather than to replicate that resource.
The bibliography is presented in two complementary formats: the Excel spreadsheet functions as a quick visualization and categorization of sources while the PDF document lists complete bibliographic citations alphabetically.
In the Excel document, the three categories can be visualized through colours: red for acoustic ecology, blue for music education, and green for environmental music and sound art. Where there is significant overlap between categories, we have expressed this with two colours. A few of the sources either escape these broad categories or cover them all, and in this case, they are left uncoloured. In addition, we have added a column comprising tags that are helpful to search materials by their study discipline (sound studies, anthropology, philosophy, biology, physics, urbanism, and architecture) and their format (book, book chapter, academic article, journalistic article, and dissertation).
We encourage users to regard this selective bibliography as a living document; additions and editing recommendations are welcome. If you have suggestions, please contact Ellen Waterman at email@example.com.
We hope that you find this list helpful and easy to navigate.
Sergio Parra Aguilera, Valentina Bertolani, and Ellen Waterman, July 1, 2022
- Ellen Waterman (project coordinator)
- Valentina Bertolani
- Sergio Parra Aguilera (graduate research assistant)
- Paul Théberge
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org