Vanessa Blais-Tremblay (McGill University), "'Don't Pocahontas Me': Politics of Improvisation in Tanya Tagaq's Throat Games with Concert Stage String Ensembles

In this paper, I propose that the throat games (or canons) performed on the concert stage between Tanya Tagaq and string ensembles provide instructive lessons for postcolonial thinking about social justice and reconciliation between Inuit communities and the South. With the help of detailed musical transcriptions, I look at the politics of improvisation in those exchanges and I trace the power dynamics at play. Who leads the changes in pattern, how often? How well; Who "wins"? Beyond becoming merely a new set of words in the musical vocabularies of southern composers and string ensembles, I suggest that Inuit soundscapes in fact open up a space for true social transformation which challenges and ultimately re-shapes concert stage etiquette and southern culture’s ways of seeing Inuit women and cultural practices.


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