Indigenous & Ethnic Music

This section was researched and written by Susan Hurley-Glowa, PhD, a native of Potsdam and ethnomusicologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Traditional Adirondack Music today is based primarily on a melding of styles brought from New England, the British Isles, and Canada. However, people from many other places have made the North Country their homes, including its first people from Native American communities. In most cases they had their own secular and sacred musical traditions.  However, these other traditions are not well represented in existing documentation for a variety of reasons.

In some cases, the musical styles were simply forgotten over time because the communities were too small to sustain them.  In other cases, the communities may have deliberately chosen to let go of ties to their past, adopting new styles from the people around them.  While there is more to be learned about traditions in the North Country’s ethnic communities, several are clearly “living music cultures,” families and communities in which ethnic music-making still constitutes an important part of their heritage and identities.