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Constructions of Authenticity in Canadian Music Essay

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Updated: Feb 18th, 2019

Canadian music is worthy of attention for many reasons. They involve the absence of cultural diversity, the desire to create and develop images but not just to sell them, and, of course, the use of music for personal satisfaction. Such devotion to own traditions and negation of popular culture is one of the first sings of authenticity in Canadian music.

In this paper, the constructions of authenticity in Canadian music will be explained and investigated by means of the deep analysis of a true meaning of the world “authenticity”, peculiarities of Canadian music, and the consequences, which take place around the constructions of authenticity.

The concept of authenticity aims at defining original from fake, relic from changed, and trustworthy from false; in Canadian music, constructions of authenticity usually depend on the environment, nature of learning, and some other theoretical interpretations, which lead to variations in authentic interpretations and assessments of performance, competence, and expertise.

Canadian music is considered to be the topic for discussion for many people of different age. This type of music, as in any other country, has its own genres and peculiarities, this is why the concept of its authenticity differs from the others even if the constructions of authenticity remain to be the same.

In spite of the fact that the music of Canada was constantly under the pressure of the American culture and traditions, in the middle of the 1990s, “the Canadian music industry as a whole was considerably stronger” (Shuker 73) and proved its rights to existence and independent development.

One of the most amazing things about Canadian music is the ways of its creations: people do not actually care about popular culture that created not by masses but for these masses, their primary goal is to take into consideration own interests, represent their intentions and thoughts, and be happy to share interesting ideas through their music.

This music is created by Canadians and for Canadians, and if it is created in this way only, its authenticity is to be beyond any doubt, and its components can be easily determined. Modern pop Canadian music dominates the airwaves: the songs of Celine Dion are known to the vast majority of the world, the works of Neil Young cannot stop impressing people, and the voice of Paul Anka is recognizable in many countries.

The concept of authenticity may be understood in different ways, and one of them is closely connected to “assumptions about the moment of commodification, when indigenous or folk musical traditions came into contact with wider musical economies” (Connell and Gibson 28).

In other words, when we talk about Canadian music authenticity, we mean the value, according to which this music is perceived and analyzed by its cultural and certain social origins. In comparison to American music, Canadian music is not that commercial and comes more from people’s hearts.

This is why it is not enough just to have pretty face, fine body, and nice voice in order to present really authentic music, because its true authenticity lies deeper inside and requires more attention to the essence of music, its impact on people, and people’s perception of this music. When music stirs up a desire, emotions, and thoughts, in this case, this music may be called authentic.

Larry Grossberg is one of those figures in cultural studies, who worked thoroughly on the ideologies of authenticity. He identifies three major dimension of authenticity: the skills, which are inherent to the artists, the construction of sexual body, and people’s feelings and experience (Connell and Gibson 29).

These very ideas are used in many genres of music, which can be called authentic. As a rule, folk, blues, and country music concentrate on these ideas and provide people with a chance to listen and to feel the emotions of the composer by means of sounds and words. However, to create captivating and real Canadian music, certain constructions of authenticity have to be taken into consideration.

Any construction of authenticity in Canadian music may have rather consideration consequences, which may cause numerous misunderstandings and debates (Anderson and Grossman 101), and it is better to evaluated several constructions of authenticity in Canadian music in order to get a clear understanding of why this or that genre of Canadian music has to be regarded authentic.

One of the most significant constructions of authenticity is authentic assessment of performance. A holistic execution of music plays an important role, as it touches not upon a separate piece of music or the process of its creation.

Taking into consideration the peculiarities of the creation and spreading of Canadian music, this very construction of authenticity focuses of composer’s intentions, people’s reaction to this music, ideas, which are transmitted by means of this music, and the means, which are used to develop this piece of art. Another important construction of authenticity is keeping the place. “Authenticity was constantly sought by embedding music in place, yet such efforts never guaranteed commercial or critical longevity” (Connell and Gibson 44).

In comparison to popular music that usually depends on contemporary life and other local traditions, authentic Canadian music is and has always to be mobile. The last construction of authenticity in Canadian music as well as in many other nations is change.

The significant mainstream of change is usually caused by cultural actions and heritage and should be always accompanied with competence. Competence is that very construction of authenticity is the one that is closely connected to real world conditions. Canadian music may be under a terrible threat because of impact of American culture, this is why it turns out to be crucially important to find competent enough ways out to maintain changes, which are favorable for Canada.

In general, Canadian music may serve as a good example of music that puts human emotions and experience on the first place. Nowadays, many countries present their national music in order to take leading positions at musical markets and earn as much money as possible. On the one hand, such step should be considered as effective and winning, because their music takes into consideration the ideas of popular culture and aims at satisfaction of masses.

On the other hand, music should functions as “a form of entertainment and aesthetic satisfaction” (Connell and Gibson 43), and popular culture does not promote aesthetical satisfaction at all. People do not have a chance to demonstrate their own feelings and own experience. And Canadian music is one of the few types of music that still appreciates composers’ feeling, it is created by people and for people considering such constructions of authenticity like change, performance, and place.

Works Cited

Anderson, Ian and Grossman, Michele. Blacklines: Contemporary Critical Writing by Indigenous Australians. Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2003.

Connell, John and Gibson, Chris. “Music and Place: Fixing Authenticity.” In Sound Track: Popular Music, Identity, and Place. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Shuker, Roy. Understanding Popular Music. New York: Routledge, 2001.

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1. IvyPanda. "Constructions of Authenticity in Canadian Music." February 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/constructions-of-authenticity-in-canadian-music/.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "Constructions of Authenticity in Canadian Music." February 18, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/constructions-of-authenticity-in-canadian-music/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Constructions of Authenticity in Canadian Music'. 18 February.

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