Songs of snow

Submitted by shawreb on Thu, 01/13/2022 - 12:07
Avery Brzobohaty, TALint Student

Downtown Toronto has been much quieter than usual lately. As I walk, the sun warms my face and tiny snowflakes glimmer in the air, transforming the campus into something magical.

For the month of January, we bring you a collection of snowy and icy music to help you celebrate winter. Included are items from our physical collection and items available online through library subscription resources. Know of something that you think should be included on this list? Send an email to, or reach out on our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Snowforms, for a cappella treble voices, was composed by the late Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, inspired by his observations of the soft drifts of snow outside the windows of his Ontario farmhouse. Written entirely in stunning linear graphic notation, Snowforms is meant to be performed very quietly through sung text and humming. The text is based on some of the many Inuit words referring snow: apingaut (first snowfall); mauyk (soft snow); akelrorak (drifting snow); and pokaktok (snow like salt). The use of humming replicates the gentle frigidness of winter. When I listen to this track, I am transported to childhood days spent sledding in rural Ontario where the landscape is nearly silent, save the occasional howl of wind through the trees.

CD cover for Des pas sous la neige by Joel Grare“Des pas sous la neige“ (Footprints beneath the snow) is the titular track from the French composer Joël Grare’s 2018 album. Grare is a self described “poet of percussion,” and “explorer of the metal route." The album is a suite of preludes for an instrument called a "clavicloche,” a chromatic keyboard of four registers from the round cow bells made from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc steel, a creation that took Grare twenty years to fully assemble. The album consists of the “innocence” of cowbells and jingle-bells, sounds swallowed up by the mountain’ before following a dizzying and snowy Alpine path. 

If you prefer to create your own snowy soundtrack, use our subscription to the Naxos Music Library to explore more wintery songs.

Winter can be a difficult time for those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also know as the "winter blues." Sun lamps (or light therapy lamps) mimic spring and summer light levels can help with SAD. There are two Sun Lamps in on the main floor of the Music Library that are available for use, no booking required. 

Stay safe and enjoy the snow! Remember, you can always reach out to us with questions via phone, email, or by Booking a Research Consultation.

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