Piano building in Canada began in the early 19th century and grew into a major, thriving industry between 1890 and 1925. By this time, the quality of most Canadian pianos was so high that only the most renowned brand names were imported. However, few companies survived the Depression. Radio, record players, television and sophisticated sound systems gradually displaced the piano as the focus of home entertainment, and trends in music education saw students choosing a wider variety of instruments. As a result of the declining demand, companies amalgamated, were taken over or went out of business. Foreign manufacturers moved into the Canadian market by the 1950s; by the 1960s, Japanese pianos were strongly merchandised. By the 1980s only three Canadian companies remained: Heintzman & Co., Sherlock-Manning and Lesage. In the early 1990s, the last of these (Sherlock-Manning) was shut down.
Award-winning indie rock band Metric has gained national and international attention for their socially and politically conscious lyrics and upbeat electro-pop, which incorporates elements of rock, new wave, electronica and grunge. Comprised of Emily Haines (vocals, keyboard), James Shaw (guitar), Josh Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums), the band has received three Juno Awards — for Alternative Album of the Year in 2010 and 2013, and Group of the Year in 2010 — multiple CASBY Awards and three nominations for the Polaris Music Prize.
Three string quartets bearing the name Amati have been based in Canada. Two separate Amati string quartets have performed on 17th-century instruments built by the Amati family of Italy, and owned by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. A third unrelated Amati String Quartet was based in Ontario, primarily Toronto, from 1985 to 2000.
One of Canada’s most iconic folk songs, “The Black Fly Song” was originally believed to have been written by Wade Hemsworth in 1949 while he was visiting Northern Ontario with an Ontario Hydro survey party to study the feasibility of a dam on the Little Abitibi River, which flows north towards James Bay. However, in a 1996 interview, Hemsworth explained that, though the song recounts that experience, he actually wrote it while on a survey expedition in Labrador. The song was featured in Christopher Hinton’s Oscar-nominated animated short Blackfly (1991) and inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003.
Moxy Früvous was an alternative pop-folk quartet from the Toronto suburb of Thornhill which was active from 1990 to 2001. After starting out busking, the band broke through in the early 1990s with a gold and platinum record in Canada, and built a significant cult following of self-identifying “Frü-heads” in the US later in the decade. The group’s quirky wit, upbeat harmonies, political consciousness and unabashed eclecticism were evidenced in such songs as “King of Spain,” “Stuck in the 90s” and “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors.”
In 1922 a group of Toronto musicians persuaded Luigi von Kunits to conduct them as an orchestra. The following year the New Symphony Orchestra was formed, presenting its first concert in Massey Hall on 23 April 1923. In 1927 its name was changed to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, becoming the Toronto Symphony in 1967, and changing back to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1994. Today it is recognized as Canada's foremost symphonic ensemble.
The word "ethnomusicology" was adopted by a group of music scholars in the 1950s to replace "comparative musicology". In the early and mid-20th century, the field was often defined to encompass musical traditions other than European art music (the study of which is sometimes labelled "historical musicology"). In the late 20th century, on the other hand, ethnomusicologists broadened the field to encompass, not only what is marketed as "world music", but all musical practices, the ideas that shape them, and the social contexts that sustain them. That is, ethnomusicologists ask questions about the ways in which social attitudes and values shape the production and reception of musical sound. In addition, they consider how the performance of sound itself and the means by which the sound circulates (ie, in performance, via broadcasts, or as a commodity) shapes social values and attitudes, in turn structuring such things as class, ethnicity and gender.
In addition to the following list of major Canadian collections, many local museums, pioneer villages, and restored fortresses display reed organs, square pianos, homebuilt fiddles, and other 18th- and 19th-century instruments, usually acquired as accoutrements of households and churches rather than for their own sakes.