RBCM Archives

Series MS-3195 - Sound Recordings

Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Whiskey Song 1 Raven Song Love Song Love Song, Little Seal Headdress Song Hamatsa Song Hamatsa Song Finishing Song Mungo Martin Recording Se... Potlatch Song - Nimpkish ... Hamatsa Song - Mungo Martin Hamatsa Song Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se... Mungo Martin Recording Se...

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Sound Recordings

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Reference code

MS-3195

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1947-1984 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

342 sound recordings (83 sound disks; 166 audio reels, 92 audio cassettes)

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Halpern, Ida (July 17, 1910 - February 7, 1987)

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Scope and content

Reflecting her academic training as a musicologist, the series consists primarily of Ida Halpern’s musical research into the traditional arts and culture of the aboriginal peoples of the Pacific Northwest of Canada. Beginning in 1947 Halpern made a concerted effort to record original hereditary songs and ceremonies of various aboriginal communities across the West Coast. Her method focused on opportunity rather than strategic selection of aboriginal communities. The result is a scattered selection of recordings primarily from Kwakwaka’wakw (European literature: Kwakiutl) communities, but also including Nu-cha-nulth (European Literature: Nootka), Haida, Tsimshian, and Nuxalk (European literature: Bella Coola). Halpern recorded both in the setting of local communities and, when opportunity arose, in Vancouver. She began her work on a disc cutting Meissner recorder but as technology progressed she moved to audio reels and finally cassette tapes. Her magpie approach may have lacked coordination but she succeeded in capturing a significant sampling of performances from the last generation of Aboriginal leaders fluent in the arts, languages, and ceremonies of their peoples. The recordings are of unique value for three reasons in particular. First Halpern used her musical background to make unprecedented sophisticated musical analysis of the First Nations musical works she recorded. Second, Halpern arrived on the Northwest Coast at the cusp of a popular appreciation for art and culture of local First Nations societies. Her work helped to bring uncommon public attention to the artistic and social identities of these indigenous communities. Third, many of the Elders Halpern recorded were willing to offer a selection of songs, naming ceremonies and other traditional creations because they recognized the generational decline in the common usage of their indigenous culture and the corresponding need for its preservation. Halpern arranged the recordings by performer and usually by date. Not conversant in any of the languages she was recording, Halpern wrote phonetic renderings of the titles of recorded songs on the covers of the discs, reels, and cassettes. Halpern occasionally made additional annotations to the covers of the recordings to explain the meaning of songs. Most of the cases, and often the discs and cassettes, are dated in her hand. During her studies of the music, Halpern also analyzed the pitch, time signature, melody, lyrics and other elements of many of the songs. For research see the “Research records” series.

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