Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music Criticism


Keith Kinder




This thesis examines the processes by which hymn singing became an integral part of Six Nations social practice, and assesses under what conditions the terms transculturation, acculturation, and transformation apply. Through an examination of the first documented musical contact between the Iroquois and the Jesuits in the 17th century, Chapter 2 addresses the question of when, under what conditions and for what reasons the Iroquois adopted European religious musical practices. Through the musical experiences as documented in the official reports of a residential school, Chapter 3 discusses the changing attitude of Canadian officialdom towards Native people and the impact these changing attitudes may have had on the acquisition of hymns by Six Nations. It examines the way that Native people were perceived as indicative of the "Indian problem," why government and residential school officials chose the policy of assimilation, how music was implicit in the assimilation policy, what effects this policy had on the way in which Native people were exposed to Western music, and whether these effects were lasting and total. By looking more specifically at one hymn, "The Lord's My Shepherd" and how its story reveals both its history and the processes of adaptation, Chapter 4 presents the history, performance aesthetics, performance practices and social meanings in a contemporary performance of this hymn. Embedded in its musical fabric are a number of genealogical threads: Scottish words sung to an English melody, acquired by the Iroquois, translated into Mohawk and using a performance style bearing a non-Western aesthetic. This thesis is illustrative of how one comes to appreciate the music of other cultures, and what responsibility a listener has towards coming to an informed understanding of another culture's music: through becoming aware of its values, history and social practices.

McMaster University Library

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