Pioneer Valley Soundscapes

Pioneer Valley Soundscapes is a project that explores the connection between sound and place by documenting the musical communities and acoustic terrain of the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts.

The films, recordings, and images here are produced by students at Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst through semester-long collaborations with local musicians and partnerships with area communities.

The goal of Pioneer Valley Soundscapes is to share these sounds, images, and stories with others in the Pioneer Valley and beyond and to serve as a resource for ongoing learning and exchange.

Pioneer Valley Soundscapes is taught at Amherst College by Professors Jeffers Engelhardt and Jason Robinson and supported by the Department of Music, the Center for Community Engagement, and Information Technology at Amherst College.

building community through improvisation

Building Community Through Improvisation: Northampton Jazz Workshop and Jam Session

The Green Street Trio founded the Northampton Jazz Workshop and Jam Session, which helped to create a place for jazz musicians to play with each other and share ideas.  Its continued success has served not only musicians—it has become a strong foundation for the larger community.

who'da funk it?

Creating Language Together: Who'da Funk It? in Amherst

Who'da Funk It? came together in Summer 2009 after meeting at the Institute of the Musical Arts in Goshen, Massachusetts. Since then, the group has played various venues in the Amherst area, building a large fan base in and around the Pioneer Valley.


Join the Seisiún: Celtic music in Amherst and Northampton

Celtic music seisiúns, or traditional folk jam sessions, are abundant throughout the Pioneer Valley. At the Harp in North Amherst, the communal tradition of an open session is a part of the fabric of local culture.


Quiets the Mind and Opens the Heart: Vajra Dance at Tsegyalgar in Conway

Vajra dance is a movement- and mantra-based meditation founded by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu at Tsegyalgar, a Tibetan Buddhist community in Conway. Tsegyalgar's semiweekly Vajra dance practices cultivate a community based on the shared experience of personal discovery through meditation.


The Pioneer Valley Polka: Polka Radio on WMUA-Amherst

Polka has been on the radio at WMUA-Amherst for 33 years. Our project explores how technological advances have changed the way people listen to and interact with polka music.