Reconsidering Glenn Gould’s 1967 Radio Montage ”The Idea of North”

    Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftPaper uden forlag/tidsskriftForskningpeer review


    In the introduction to “The Idea of North,” his radio montage, or play for voices, or “oral tone poem”, or sound documentary, or specimen of “contrapuntal radio” – all labels that seem applicable to the piece, Canadian pianist, composer and radio artist Glenn Gould writes: “Something really does happen to most people who go into the north – they become at least aware of the creative opportunity which the physical fact of the country represents, and, quite often I think, come to measure their own work and life against that rather staggering creative possibility – they become, in effect, philosophers.” Gould’s work is a strikingly original investigation into the identity repercussions of isolation and northern exposure upon five carefully selected Canadians, recorded in the year of the Canadian centennial, 1967.

    My paper will examine the piece from a cultural studies approach, discussing both aspects of the representational strategies of the piece (which is contrapuntal in its editing technique – juxtaposing and intercutting the five voices as if in an operatic quintet, or another type of polyphonic composition – producing auditory effects on the reader of an impressionistic nature, rather than allowing for a focus on exact content and meaning) and on aspects of the proposed creative philosophies of these northerners. Finally, I’d like to offer suggestions on the topic of to what extent “The Idea of North” is a documentation of Canadian identities, and to what extent the work is an eccentric self-portrait of that most Canadian genius recluse, Gould himself.
    Publikationsdatomaj 2016
    Antal sider7
    StatusUdgivet - maj 2016
    BegivenhedNordic Association of English Studies - Agder Universitet, Kristiansand, Kristiansand, Norge
    Varighed: 4 maj 20166 maj 2016
    Konferencens nummer: 12th triennial


    KonferenceNordic Association of English Studies
    Nummer12th triennial
    LokationAgder Universitet, Kristiansand


    • radio
    • montage
    • Canadian Studies