Definition of the word “Aboriginal”
Aboriginal “original or earliest known; native; indigenous.”
The word “Aboriginal” was recognized within the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, sections 25 and 35, respectively as Indians (First Nations), Métis, and Inuit peoples.
Defining “Aboriginal Music” for the National Aboriginal Music Countdown
The above definitions are very limited in that they don’t speak to the complexities of music as art form which is often a collaborative effort.
The term “Aboriginal music” often implies the use of traditional instruments and vocals (i.e. flute, pow-wow, throat singing, a hand drum etc.). There is a distinct difference between contemporary and traditional music. Traditional music generally serves as being ceremonial or part of a celebratory event which is specific to a nation, tribe, village, clan, family, or individual. These songs are often connected to specific protocols that may include; a ceremony, regalia, dances, and specific life events. The broadcast of these songs on the radio is often prohibited in order to remain respectful to the intent of the song. Therefore, the National Aboriginal Music Countdown primarily focuses on contemporary genres of music.
The music selected for the chart playlist cannot be defined or limited to one specific genre. It must be noted, that historically the influx of instruments and styles of music that have arrived from Europe and other parts of the world over the last few hundred years, Aboriginal people have adapted with much ingenuity to transform any given genre into music with an Aboriginal focus.
In terms of song themes, the National Aboriginal Music Countdown has featured music which features lyrical content in reference to; historical events, land rights, . The chart has also featured songs which use Aboriginal languages and traditional instruments and traditional vocal styles. We strongly believe however that a songs theme is rooted in the life experience of an Aboriginal musician or musicians. The lyrical content on the countdown is often common place to all people (relationships, loneliness, life experiences etc.). Therefore, an Aboriginal song on the countdown can possess common themes which are found in mainstream music. The difference being, an Aboriginal performance can connect to the Aboriginal community at-large on a very significant and even cultural level.
A General Overview of Defining Aboriginal Music for the Countdown Radio Program:
- If a song is performed by an Aboriginal person, it is considered to be an Aboriginal song.
- If a specific song has music and lyrics written by an Aboriginal person, it is considered to be an Aboriginal song.
- There have been several examples in the past where an Aboriginal artist has stylistically transformed a non-original song to speak to the Aboriginal community.
- If the primary performer of a recording has been adopted (through a traditional ceremony or has been adopted by a tribal group) the artist is accepted as being Aboriginal.
- The role of the National Aboriginal Music Chart Countdown is to feature original new music that is created by Aboriginal people. Therefore, as a rule, covers of well known mainstream radio hits are generally not accepted for airplay. There have been exceptions however where a well-known cover song has been translated into an Aboriginal language i.e. Cree or Ojibway. This greatly gives a cover song a new sound and perspective.
The National Aboriginal Music Countdown’s primary mandate is to spotlight Aboriginal music that has historically been marginalized by mainstream radio. All decisions regarding the music chart are intended to be respectful and ultimately assist in the building of the Aboriginal music industry.