People Collection


Mary Ingraham, PhD (University of Nottingham), MA (University of Victoria), BMus (Mount Allison University)

Professor of Musicology, Director of the Sound Studies Initiative



About Me


PhD, Historical and Analytical Musicology, University of Nottingham
Dissertation title:  Brahms’s Rinaldo, Op. 50: A Structural and Contextual Study

MA, Musicology, University of Victoria
Thesis title: Brahms and the Folk Ideal: His Poets and His Art Songs

BMus, Mount Allison University
Piano performance major; German language and literature minor

Current  positions

Director, Sound Studies Initiative, University of Alberta

Professor of Musicology, Department of Music, University of Alberta

Manager, UAlberta partnership in the Cultures of Sound Network (with Smithsonian Folkways Records,

Canadian Museum of History, and Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Manager, community cultural partnership with the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta

Co-founder and Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Music in Canada Research Group

Principal Investigator, “Resounding Culture: Recontextualizing resources for histories of music in Canada”

Principal Investigator, “Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta: Digitising the Ancestors Project”

Co-investigator, “Connecting Culture and Childhood: Implications of the repatriation of archival recordings
for children and young people”

Researcher Member, Listening Across Disciplines Research Network (University of the Arts London)

President, Pacific Northwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society

Advisory Board Member, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Music and Musical Life in Canada series

Short Biography

Mary Ingraham is Professor of Musicology and Director of the Sound Studies Initiative at the University of Alberta. She is an interdisciplinary researcher, teacher, and administrator whose interests and activities resonate within the fields of cultural studies and include: critical approaches to coloniality, the politics of culture, and discourse analysis that consider issues of ethnicity, race, gender, and spirituality in identity studies; intersensory studies of sound, listening, and the materiality of musical experience; ecologies and environments in human geography; and methodologies grounded in musicology, ethnomusicology, and a sensitivity to Indigenous practices. Mary has been exploring social and political perspectives on the creation and performance of music and sound in Canada for over 20 years. Her interests are historical and contemporary, critical and pedagogical, and converge in a critique of social systems that enact western hegemonic paradigms through cultural expression. Current activities in scholarly teaching and research include consideration of Indigenous resurgence in inter-arts collaborations, DIY digital-aural ethnography, expressions of interculturality, and the role of sounds and media in cultural preservation and memory.  Her research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Canadian University Music Society (MusCan)
Canadian Music Centre (CMC)
Canadian Society for Traditional Music (CSTM)
Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE)
New Music Edmonton (NME)
American Musicological Society (AMS)
British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS)
Society for American Music (SAM)
Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM)
Musicological Society of Australia (MSA)


My primary academic interest is the socio-political context of music, focusing on issues relating to cultural identity and intercultural encounters. My research borrows from my background in academic study of art music but seeks to redress the balance of indigenous and immigrant voices within this context. I study works by creative artists that respond to expressive modes from a broad range of cultures and repertoires, examining the politics of their creation and their expressive response to cultural exchange. The theoretical grounding for my work emanates from postcolonial, literary and political discourses, as well as the theoretical and analytical perspectives of studies in cultural anthropology, sociology, musicology and ethnomusicology. These are accessed specifically for an understanding the lived experiences, reception and aesthetic concepts of space and place and the relationships of society, politics, history and music to constructions of identity, nationhood and belonging.

In 2007, I published a preliminary catalogue of Canadian operas that is currently being reconfigured for digital access. From 2002 to 2007, I served as Consultant, Researcher and Writer of web-based educational projects for the Canadian Music Centre, including serving as sole researcher and content provider for the educational websites sound adventure and Sound Progressions, and as the lead researcher for the initial project on Influences of Many Musics. Since 2009 I have co-coordinated with Dylan Robinson the national Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Music in Canada Working Group, which facilitates cross-, multi- and interdisciplinary discussions and publication on issues such as historiography, indigeneity, listening, performativity, and intersensory studies, among others. 

Recent projects include examining opera and race, studies of the historico-musical record of indigenous representation in Canadian art music, compiling the entry on "Canada" for Oxford Bibliographies in Music, consideration of cross-cultural exchange in postcolonial works and an intersensory study of listening and contemporary music. I have recently received a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant project entitled "Resounding Culture: Recontextualizing resources for histories of music in Canada" to develop a linked data (digital) resource to facilitate ongoing historical research across interdisciplinary, multicultural, and multifaceted cultural resources through a web portal. In addition to recent published articles on Canadian opera and the use of educational technologies in undergraduate music history courses, I am compiling a textbook of source readings relating to histories of music in Canada with co-editor David Gramit.

Select current research & publications:

Cultural Extractivism: reconciliation or resurgence?

Questions of resource access and ownership lie at the heart of many settler-native disputes. Although the buzzword of postcolonial agenda in contemporary Canada, ‘reconciliation’ of inequities to indigenous individuals and communities may neither be possible nor desirable for communities marked by decades (if not centuries) of cultural extractivism. For Michi Saagigg Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson, resource extraction threatens not only lands, but entire lifeways of indigenous peoples, making ‘reconciliation’ another place for assimilation. In considering Simpson’s distrust of cultural extractivism, this research examines collaborative multimedia works created in Canada for expressions of alternative, collaborative spaces that revitalize rather than subsume indigenous practices. Viewed through Simpson’s lens of ‘resurgence’, such works magnify the socio-cultural, political, and environmental impacts of cultural resource extraction while acknowledging indigenous agency across the images, text, audio-visual materials, media, and individuals co-present in creative practice.

Echoes from The Lake

This research proposes an intercultural and multimodal approach to Barbara Pentland and Dorothy Livesay’s opera The Lake (1952) that considers its formative and performative resources in articulating Canada’s ongoing decolonization project with First Nations communities. The Lake relates the story of a late 19th century settler-native encounter through dramatization of events involving the spirit of Lake Okanagan, N'ha-a-itk or Ogopogo. Considering present-day interests of the Syilxwto recontextualize these narratives, this work examines the discourses of settler and native, considering aspects of narrativity and temporality in their voices through Catherine Clément’s concept of syncope as revealed in their performance. A book chapter based on this research, “Learning Together at the Lake: Conversations and collaborations from The Lake|N-ha-a-itk”, is in review for inclusion in the edited collection Place, Politics, and Cultural Exchange: Indigenous-Settler Collaboration ion Canadian Art Music.

Deterritorializing Spirituality: Intercultural Encounters in Chan's Iron Road
This research deconstructs the interplay of narrative and musical elements in Ka Nin Chan and Mark Brownell’s 2001 opera Iron Road to encourage greater understanding of the intercultural encounters of immigrant and settler communities over a century ago. Chan and Brownell were inspired by unfamiliar stories of early Chinese immigrants and their silencing in historical accounts of the Canadian West and this research recognizes the workers themselves, revealing the tensions of historical intercultural encounters to revisit their contribution to Canadian history and society. The opera also communicates a contemporary 21st century perspective on interculturality because of the immediacy and mediating properties of both Chinese cultural traditions and the European operatic framework engaged for the work. This book chapter appears in: China and the West: Music, Representation, and Reception. M. Saffle and H. Yang, eds. University of Michigan Press, 2017: 215-244.

Creative Collaboration: The Social Efficacy of Music in Canada

The Social Efficacy of Music in Canada was a three-year research project spanning 2013-2015, with the goals of better understanding the processes, challenges, and results of musical collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous artists in Canada.  The research is grouped around three case studies discrete in scope, location, and production protocols. Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, this project examined intercultural music collaboration across Canada. Dr. Mary Ingraham (Alberta) worked with both Dr. Robin Elliot (Toronto) and Dr. Dylan Robinson (Queen’s) to build a multi-year research program that would build a better understanding of collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous communities through case studies in Canada. From 2013-15, investigators and research assistants undertook mixed methods research including direct participation, observation of rehearsals and workshops, and interviews with artistic partners and participation in the First People’s Cultural Council forum on cultural protocols (E’nowkin Centre, Penticton). To view the website, click the link in the right-hand column of this page, or go to


2019 WINTER: Music 280: Introduction to the Study of Western Music History (BMus core)

★ 3 A study of music history and style to 1600 from the perspective of social, cultural, and philosophical contexts, emphasizing the development of listening, score reading, research, critical thinking, and communication skills. Prerequisite: Music 155 or, for students not in a BMus program, consent of the department. Not available to students with credit in MUSIC 281.

2018 FALL: Music 101: Introduction to Western Art Music (for non-majors)

★ 3 A study of music literature with an emphasis on listening and analytical tools. A brief survey of the history of Western music will be included. Not available for degree credit to BMus (all routes) students.

MUSIC 101 is an introduction to Western art music (aka 'classical music'). The objective of this course is to develop basic listening skills and introduce you to some of the major developments within that musical tradition across the past 500+ years. The course
1) introduces concepts and skills essential to close listening to music;
2) provides different approaches to listening in general;
3) builds a basic vocabulary for talking about classical music;
4) introduces you to dozens of examples that highlight musical developments and will encourage your enjoyment of a variety of forms and styles; and
5) raises questions about the meaning of classical music in the past and the present: to whom was and is this music important, and why?

2018 WINTER: Music 608: Listening: Seminar in 20th Century Music

In this graduate seminar students will explore experiences of listening to 20th and 21st century music and sound from practical and theoretical perspectives. Through listening, discussion, and critical readings in musical aesthetics, affect studies and contemporary explorations in intersensory and sound studies, we will consider ways of listening and methods of communicating the fullness of our experiences in documentation ranging from musical notation to graphic and text- and image-based representations. Over the semester, we will explore scholarly approaches to listening, from Adorno, Subotnik, Clarke, Schafer, Howes, and others who theorize models of listening in structural, social, and phenomenological domains, and will examine creative opportunities for writing around rather than about specific works in our own responses. Musical materials will be selected from 20th/21st century art music as well as representations of sound embodied in photographs, poetry and other literary works, and the visual arts.

2017 FALL: Music 314: Music in Canada

50 years of Music in Canada: From songs about Louis Riel and operas on slavery in Nova Scotia to folk fiddling and Celtic-popular styles, MUSIC 314 offers a place to discover the sounds of Canada's multiple cultural communities, to discuss the impact of politics, technology and consider the social lives of musicians and audiences. Class work and assignments will involve listening, reading, discussion, and writing; course assessments will vary, and involve similar activities.

Music in Canada has developed within a unique social and political environment and been influenced by many different cultures. Much of what we call ‘Canadian Music’ is not defined by any one of these influences or cultures but rather by the inclusion and integration of many different voices. The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to music and music-making in Canada by focusing on the multiple expressions of diverse cultures, artists, and genres active in Canada since 1967. Folk, traditional, popular, and classical music and musicians will be considered in order to enhance our knowledge of distinct forms of cultural expression and to deepen our understanding of the complexity of musical multiculturalism in Canada in these years. To do this requires an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates methods and materials from cultural, social and political histories, as well as ethnographic studies and unique approaches to listening.

In general:

The courses I offer vary from year to year, but include undergraduate courses in musicology such as the non-specialist survey course Introduction to Western Art Music (MUS101) and undergraduate music history courses such as Introduction to Music in Canada (MUS314) and Music History from 1850 to present (MUS284).

I also teach variable topics in combined undergraduate and graduate courses including genre, composer, and period studies on topics from 1750 to present (MUS4xx/5xx series) and a graduate Seminar in Music in Canada (MUS508). Graduate Music Student courses include the Seminar on 20th century music: Listening (MUS608) and the ProSeminar in Musicology (MUS614).