Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289



Current TAUNY Research Projects


TAUNY's presentations of the customs and traditions of the North Country begin with research. Our staff and a network of scholars with whom we work travel around the region to study and document ongoing cultural practices in our communities. Read about our current research projects here.


Instrumental Stories:

North Country Folk Instrument Making and Collecting 

This project will document instrument makers and collectors throughout the region. It will explore the craft of instrument-making in its many forms, from improvised, home-made instruments to the work of master craftspeople who supply many others in their communities with instruments. It will also explore the contexts of the instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment. Some instruments are born of household materials and practices, and the project will examine these frameworks and how, in turn, the instruments relate to both private and public living spaces from kitchens and living rooms to restored granges and festival stages. The instruments thus reflect not only the craftsmanship that builds them, but the family and community traditions that help to shape their significance in regional life. In addition to instrument-making and the spaces and contexts in which instruments are used, the project will address instrument collections. The region is home to a variety of music traditions, generally connected to ethnic heritage groups as well as location-based community groups. While the music-playing traditions are less active than they’ve been in the past, many people continue to play folk instruments and/or connect to family and community traditions through new and heirloom instruments. Many people in the region have such instruments--from a single old story-laden family guitar to, in one case, a seventy-fiddle collection started by a father and added to over the years by a son in a musical family. The project will document these collections and explore how regional music-playing traditions are in some cases transforming to manifest as instrument-collecting traditions.

Research Goals:


- Identify and document North Country folk instrument makers (from improvisation to mastery)

- Identify and document North Country folk instrument collections/collectors

- Identify and document smaller-scale instrument holdings (such as single keepsake items) and their stories

- Identify and document makers of related accessories (such as instrument covers and cases, spare parts)

- Examine the spatial contexts of folk instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment (such as luthiers’ studios, household settings, public music and dance venues)

- Examine the social contexts of folk instruments’ making, use, and enjoyment (such as instrument and music equipment exchange networks, jams, repair networks)

Join us to share your instruments and their stories at our Documentation Days: Folk Instrument Makers and Keepers !

Wednesday, August 23, 11:00am-3:00pm, at the Mennonite Heritage Farm (Croghan, NY)

Wednesday, August 30, 4:00-7:00pm, BluSeed Studios (Saranac Lake, NY)

Thursday, August 31, 2:00-6:00pm, Whallonsburg Grange (Whallonsburg, NY)

Sunday, September 10, 1:00-3:30pm, North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame (Osceola, NY)

(Further documentation days and locations TBA)

Have an instrument? Fill out a questionnaire!

Click here for the Makers questionnaire.

Click here for the Keepers and Collectors questionnaire.

This project is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Photo: Dale Streeter of the Adirondack Playboys shows a guitar he made working with luthier Tracy Cox, 2016.


North Country Heritage Awards

This signature program of TAUNY since 1993 puts a spotlight on a diversity of traditions and customs in the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Black River Valley, 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River Valley, and Champlain Basin. Research for this program is ongoing. The program hosts its own website.

North Country Folklore Online is a collection of educational modules about various aspects of contemporary and historical folk culture and traditional arts of northern New York State that has been created with TAUNY’s research.

Kindred Pursuits: Folk Art in the North Country

Kindred Pursuits is an online catalog of a selection of visual expressions made in the northern counties of New York since they were first settled more than two centuries ago. Researched and documented over more than 30 years, the collection represents the rich diversity of traditional cultures living here as well as the beauty and power of creative expressions of ordinary people in everyday life.

Note: All images, text and other material found in this website © 2018 TAUNY. All rights reserved.