Queen's University Logo

Gordon E. Smith

A member of Dan School of Drama & Music

Gordon E. Smith

Professor (on leave)


Gordon E. Smith received his BA, MA and PhD in musicology from the University of Toronto.  He also holds the ARCT diploma in piano performance. In addition to serving in administrative roles in the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s, including Vice-Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science (2013-2021), Interim Dean (2016-2017), Associate Dean (2006-2012), and Director of the School of Music (2003-2006), Dr. Smith is an ethnomusicologist with the Dan School of Drama and Music.

Dr. Smith’s research has focused on historic and current issues of representation in Canadian ethnomusicology. He was National Advisory Editor for the 7th edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001), and a contributor to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: The United States and Canada (2001). Dr. Smith has published in national and international journals, including the Canadian University Music Review, World of Music, American Music, Les Cahiers de la Société québécoise de la recherché en musique, Ethnomusicology. and MUSICultures, of which he was recently appointed Editor. In addition, Dr. Smith was guest editor of Perspectives, People, and Places: Essays in Honour of Carl Morey, a theme issue of Intersections (Canadian Journal of Music/Revue canadienne de musique), published in 2015.

He has also contributed book chapters, including in Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada (2012) and Music and Modernity Among First Peoples of North America (2018). His co-edited books include Istvan Anhalt: Pathways and Memory (2001), Around and About Marius Barbeau: Modelling Twentieth-Century Culture (2007), Folk Music, Traditional Music, Ethnomusicology: Canadian Perspectives, Past and Present (2007), Musical Traditions, Culture and Contexts (2010), and Térritoires musicaux mis en scène (2011).

Smith’s current research examines music and intersectional cultural and social practices in Mi’kmaw communities in Cape Breton Island, specifically Eskasoni. This includes working with elders, families, and community leaders with a view to understanding how music serves as an agent of Indigenous resurgence and healing. A recent project focussed on the funeral as a site of tradition and modernity, and explored ways music (hymns, chanting, language drumming) are part of this central life ritual in the community. He is currently working on a collaborative project on the multi-media piece based on Mi’kmaw poet Rita Joe’s often-cited poem “I Lost My Talk.” A parallel collaborative project is focussed on decolonization and Indigenization in music curricula and programs through the establishment of a living digital archive of source materials.

Dr. Smith was the recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the University Council of Queen’s in 2015, and the 2016 recipient of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN)/MUSCAN Award of Excellence for Advancement of Research in Canadian Music.

Dr. Smith is currently the Interim Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen’s.