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Music History & Criticism

On Record

Audio Recording, Mediation, and Citizenship in Newfoundland and Labrador

by (author) Beverley Diamond

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2021
History & Criticism, General, Recording & Reproduction, Ethnomusicology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price

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Musical media and the audio recording industry have an important and complex history in Newfoundland and Labrador: professional musicians, community songwriters, local institutions, and even politicians have gone on record. The result is a widespread body of work that undercuts the idea of recorded music as a cultural commodity and deepens the province's tradition of cultural activism.

Drawing on contemporary testimony and over fifty years of interviews, On Record explores how recording projects have served as sonic signatures, forms of protest, homage, or parody of the foibles of those in power. Beverley Diamond examines how audio recording in Newfoundland and Labrador has been shaped not merely by creative individuals, but by such events as resettlement, residential schools, the cod moratorium, technological change, and disasters that have befallen those who live and work on the North Atlantic. A chapter by ethnomusicologist and musician Mathias Kom examines the widespread response to a unique annual "challenge" to make an audio recording. Spanning both commercial and community-oriented initiatives, this book reflects the vibrant, socially engaged, and resilient nature of communities that value simultaneously and equally the highest professional standards and the creative potential of every citizen.

Encompassing music from both settler and Indigenous communities, On Record redefines the culture of a province that has most often been associated with traditional music, demonstrating that recording goes beyond the creation of a commodity: it responds to the present and to constructs of public memory.

About the author

Beverley Diamond is Associate Professor of Music, Associate Dean of Fine Arts, and Director of the Graduate Program in Music at York University. She has done extensive research on music, particularly in Canada, and has published widely.

Beverley Diamond's profile page


  • Short-listed, History Book Award
  • Winner, Peter Cashin Prize

Editorial Reviews

"[A] scholarly tour de force." Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (CAML)

"Oscillating from the broad to the specific, from the past to the present, from singer-songwriters to punk rockers and beyond, Diamond renders a thoroughly modern and complex history of musical media in Newfoundland from the phonograph's inception to the present. In a spirit of impressive idiosyncratic inclusivity, Diamond treats sound recording not only as a fixed set of texts or objects but as an expansive set of creative practices. On Record tells a story that has not been told." Henry Adam Svec, University of Waterloo and author of American Folk Music as Tactical Media

"As a case study for the production and circulation of recorded and live music, or of how music is central to social and political change, On Record gives us a wealth of material to engage with. Diamond explores the kinds of recordings that scholars rarely discuss. All readers who like or care about Newfoundland music will find this book to be a treasure trove of information." Thomas Porcello, Vassar College and co-editor of Wired for Sound: Engineering and Technologies in Sonic Cultures

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