Pioneer Valley Soundscapes

Building Community Through Improvisation: Northampton Jazz Workshop and Jam Session (2012)

building community through improvisation

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.

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Creating Language Together: Who'da Funk It? in Amherst (2012)

who'da funk it?

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.

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Join the Seisiún: Celtic music in Amherst and Northampton (2012)


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.

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Quiets the Mind and Opens the Heart: Vajra Dance at Tsegyalgar in Conway (2012)


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.

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The Pioneer Valley Polka: Polka Radio on WMUA-Amherst (2012)

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.

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"Take Hands Four": Contra Dancing in the Pioneer Valley (2011)

imageAfter losing popularity during the early twentieth century, contra dance resurfaced as a social activity during the back-to-the-land movement associated with the Folk Revival of the 1970s. Our film explores how dancers and musicians entered the community in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s as well as the influence groups of teenagers have had on the community.

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Peter and Then Some: The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra (2011)


The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra is an all-guitar ensemble based in Northampton, Massachusetts and led by Peter Blanchette. The group is comprised of many types of musicians coming from an assortment of backgrounds. Their story is one of musical collaboration, community-based music playing, and a love of the guitar.

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All Ages: A Flywheel Documentary (2011)

Flywheel Neighborhood Arts Center is an all-ages, drug- and alcohol-free community arts space in Easthampton, Massachusetts. From its origins as a response to the restrictive, profit-driven nightclubs of Northampton to its current home in Easthampton's historic Town Hall, Flywheel is a critical musical landmark in the Pioneer Valley.

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A Taste of Music in the Pioneer Valley's Puerto Rican Community (2009)

A Cumpiano cuatro

The Pioneer Valley boasts a thriving Puerto Rican community. Through the sounds and stories of a master luthier, a family restaurant and band, and a life-long musician, we document and explore Puerto Rican music and culture in Northampton, Westfield, and Holyoke, Massachusetts.

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And We’ll All Sing Hallelujah: Tuesday Night Sacred Harp Singing in Northampton (2009)

Sacred Harp singing

Americans have been singing music from the Sacred Harp since it was first published in 1844. By 1900, singing from the Sacred Harp had fallen out of practice in cities, especially those in the North. But today, in Northampton, MA, the Sacred Harp, its traditions, and the community it fosters flourish once again as singers from all walks of life join together to lift their voices in song.

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