Beverley Diamond Cavanagh | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Beverley Diamond Cavanagh

Beverley (Anne) Diamond (formerly m Cavanagh). Ethnomusicologist, pianist, b Kitchener, Ont, 4 Jun 1948; B MUS (Toronto) 1970, MA musicology (Toronto) 1971, PH D ethnomusicology (Toronto) 1979.

Beverley Diamond

Beverley (Anne) Diamond (formerly m Cavanagh). Ethnomusicologist, pianist, b Kitchener, Ont, 4 Jun 1948; B MUS (Toronto) 1970, MA musicology (Toronto) 1971, PH D ethnomusicology (Toronto) 1979. Her teachers included Ruth Watson Henderson and Clifford Poole (piano), Mieczyslaw Kolinski (ethnomusicology), and John Beckwith (Canadian music). Beverley Diamond taught at McGill University (1973-5), Queen's University (1975-88), the University of Toronto, (1980-1), York University (1988-2002), and Memorial University from 2002 in the post of Canada Research Chair in Traditional Music. She was visiting professor at Harvard University in 1999.


Beverley Diamond's early ethnomusicological work on Inuit music was based on field work in the communities of Gjoa Haven, Spence Bay, and Pelly Bay in the Northwest Territories (now Nunavut), and it reflected her musicological training in its concentration on repertoires and the musical analysis of their styles and structures. Subsequently, she has studied with elders and musicians from a number of northeastern Algonquin Nations, especially Innu (Naskapi) in northern Labrador in 1983 and 1985, and after that on an on-going basis, Innu (Montagnais) on the North Shore in Quebec, Western Abenaki, Algonquin, and Cree and Ojibwa in Ontario. Later, she conducted research in the Sami communities of Scandinavia. Her publications beginning in the early 1980s involved a re-evaluation of certain theoretical constructs such as "acculturation" in relation to Aboriginal hymns, festivals, and contemporary popular music, the discreteness of "music" as a category of discourse and performance, and the consideration of gender issues in Indigenous and other Canadian music cultures. She also wrote articles which examined the intellectual and cultural framework of recent writings on Canadian music history. Among her students was Andra McCartney.

Professional Activities

From 1985 to 1988 Diamond organized and participated in a large-scale organological study called the SPINC (Sound-Producing Instruments in Native Communities) Research Project, conducted in collaboration with M. Sam Cronk and Franziska von Rosen. This project involved archival and field study and interactive work in which elders and consultants shared interpretations and knowledge about archival instruments. It culminated in the publication of Visions of Sound: Musical Instruments of First Nations Communities in Northeastern America, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the musical instruments of Indigenous people in northeastern North America. Diamond also directed other projects such as the Canadian Musical Pathways Project, and the creation of the Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) at Memorial University. She was also the author or editor of other books dealing with the issues of music, gender, and identity.

Diamond was a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada and was consultant for the ethnomusicological entries in its second edition; she also served as an editorial adviser for the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. She served on the boards of the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the International Council for Traditional Music.

As a pianist Diamond was a member of Windsong with soprano Carol-Lynn Reifel and flutist Donelda Hunter; they premiered works by Bruce Pennycook, David Keane, F.R.C. Clarke, and others. As a chamber musician she has been heard on the CBC, and has recorded with James Campbell.


Beverley Diamond was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2008 and was named a Trudeau Fellow in 2009.

Selected Writings

"Annotated bibliography: Eskimo music," Ethnomusicology, vol 16, Sep 1972

"Imagery and structure in Eskimo song texts," Canadian Folk Music Journal, vol 1, 1973

"Some throat games of Netsilik Eskimo women," Canadian Folk Music Journal, vol 4, 1976

Music of the Netsilik Eskimo: a Study of Stability and Change (Ottawa 1982)

"Les myths et la musique naskapis," Recherches amerindiennes aux Québec, vol 15, no. 4, 1985-6

- et al. "Vivre ses traditions...," Recherches amerindiennes aux Quebec, vol 18, no. 4, 1988-9

"Music and gender in the sub-Arctic Algonkian area," Women in North American Indian Music: Six Essays, ed R. Keeling (Bloomington, Ind 1989)

"Narratives in Canadian music history," paper presented to Canadian University Music Society, 1989

"Feminist aesthetics and Canadian women's music," paper presented at the Goethe Institute conference on feminist aesthetics, 1990

"Christian hymns in Eastern Woodlands communities: performance contexts," Musical Repercussions of 1492 (Washington, DC 1991)

"'Not knowing' and the study of Native music cultures: introductory comments,'" Ethnomusicology in Canada, ed Robert Witmer, Canadian Musician Documents 5 (Toronto 1990)

"The transmission of Algonkian Indian hymns: between orality and literacy," Musical Canada

- and Witmer, Robert, eds. Canadian Music: Issues of Hegemony and Identity (Toronto 1994)

- and Cronk, M. Sam and von Rosen, Franziska. Visions of Sound: Musical Instruments of First Nations Communities in Northeastern America (Waterloo, Ont and Chicago 1994)

"Narratives in Canadian music history," Taking a Stand, ed T. McGee (Toronto 1996)

"Colloquy: Theory and fieldwork," Canadian University Music Review, vol 19 no 1, 1998

- and Moisala, Pirkko, eds. Music and Gender (Urbana, Ill 2000)

"What's the difference? Reflections on discourses of morality, modernism, and mosaics in the study of music in Canada," Canadian University Music Review, vol 21 no 1, 2000

"Native American contemporary music: The women," The World of Music, Journal of the Department of Ethnomusicology, Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg, vol 44, no 1, 2002

"Canadian reflections on palindromes, inversions, and other challenges to ethnomusicology's coherence," Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, vol 50, no 2, Spring/Summer 2006

Native American Research in Eastern North America (Don Mills 2008)

- and Crowdy, Denis and Downes, Daniel, eds. Post Colonial Distances: The Study of Popular Music in Canada and Australia (Newcastle 2008)

Further Reading