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Irish traditional music Structures and Contexts. Lecture Plan: –History and social context –Musical structures –Performance contexts –Australian contexts.

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Presentation on theme: "Irish traditional music Structures and Contexts. Lecture Plan: –History and social context –Musical structures –Performance contexts –Australian contexts."— Presentation transcript:

1 Irish traditional music Structures and Contexts

2 Lecture Plan: –History and social context –Musical structures –Performance contexts –Australian contexts

3 Irish music Irish history –English/British colony : English control gradually developed from 1100s onwards –After reformation most of Ireland maintained Catholic religion and political allegiance –Series of national movements from 1798 uprising, –National movement continues through 1800s, war of independence

4 Independent Ireland New state established in Southern part of Ireland, protestant northern province of Ulster remains within United Kingdom Sense of national unity continues in South and with Northern catholic republicans Nationalist ideology and politics receding with incorporation into Europe and transnationl politics

5 Socio-political place of Irish traditional music Irish traditional music key symbol of Irish nationalism. Large group of aficionados and enthusiasts in Ireland, supported in principle by the population Combination of conservative social tradtion and musical innovation and adventurousness Cf Country and Irish Cf Irish rock, boy bands, Corrs, etc

6 Irish traditional music in the Irish soundscape Minority interest of enthusiasts Given high social and national status by larger group: perhaps majority Often claimed by many musicians as basis or influence

7 Genres of traditional music Irish traditional dance tunes –Reels, jigs,hornpipes, set dances etc Songs –Irish language songs : sean nos = old style –English language: traditional narrative ballads: Local songs, comic songs, love songs, political and topical historical songs –Modern folk songs in this format

8 Irish dance music Repetoire of tunes Binary structure: –A=tune –B=turn Rhythmic forms: –Reel: 4/4, AABB, 32 bars, qqqq qqqq –Jig: 6/8, AABB, 32 bars, qqq qqq –Hornpipe: as for reel but slower and more unequal –Slip jigs 9/8 qqq qqq qqq –Set dances: various rhythms with unequal section lengths: eg 16 bars + 20 bars

9 Instrumental resources Melodic instruments: –Uilleann Pipes: (pron illun) –Bellows blown bagpipe, drones, Keys drones called regulators –Possibility of staccato playing by closed fingering

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11 Fiddle: Playing style Fiddle: =violin, seldom retuned –Playing mainly first position, hence G-b range –Loose shoulder support, bowed on the string, some trebling, much slurred playing, usually offbeat phrasing, some finger slides, much finger ornamentation

12 Flute and Whistle Flute: baroque wooden flute: 6 primary finger holes, Whistle: 6 holes, 2 octaves Almost no tonguing, articulation through ornamentation

13 Secondary instruments Accordion: button single action accordion (different note press and draw, hence phrasing implications) Plectrum stringed instruments: –Tenor banjo –Mandolin: imitate fiddle tuning and ornamentation, especially trebling

14 Accompanying instruments Piano (now old fashioned sound) vamped bass chord alternation Guitar: modern style often in modal DADGAD tuning: open chords, sus chords, open drones etc Bodhran: (pron bow-rawn): circular frame drum, played with short two-ended stick

15 Melodic style Tune range; generally d-b D or G major scales, finals of D,E,G,A,B Modal melodies: eg notes c(#),f(#) variable dorian with major 6 more common than natural minor D drone often retains a presence against other modal finals

16 Ornamentation Style as most valued characteristic –Phrasing, ornamentation –Ornaments: Pipes and flute influenced –Cuts =interrupting upper grace note –Rolls = combination of upper and lower grace notes, rhythmically executed –Trebles: based on stringed instrunment techniques –Principle of imitating other instruments: especially Pipes

17 The Silver spear: Typical reel

18 Variation Highly valued, but controlled Integrity of tune must be maintained Substitution of longer notes, neighbour groups, filling in scalar gaps etc Tunes sometimes in extended theme and variation form:

19 Social and performing contexts Historically: rural Ireland social dancing: –Much solo step dancing –Group dancing –Crossroads dances –Post independence: national symbolic education and display –Emigration esp USA: social dances, nostalgia, cultural maintenance

20 Modern developments –Recording of emigrant players esp in 1920s- 1930s in USA –Vigorous revival movement in Ireland in 1950s-1960s greatly expands social reach. –Breakthrough groups form in 1970s, typical small instrumental folk group, inspires Irish music performance globally –Session playing develops esp from 1960s-

21 Global Irish Session: –Model of cooperative social music making –Leaderless individualism, but strict musico-social control –Rounds of tunes, 2-3 times each –Depends on shared repertoire –Performance without audience, practice, sociability, sub-cultural status –Cf Jazz jam session

22 1990s: Irish goes Global Irish Pubs, Guinness promotion from early 1990s. Imitates real immigrant community Pubs, local rural and Dublin Pubs Popular Culture: –Riverdance: from 1996 –Film music: Titanic, Lord of the Rings Irish or Celtic?

23 Australia Irish immigration to Australia in 19 th C approx 25% Influences on vernacular popular song (traditional folk music) Folk movement in 1970s bases Australian group performance on contemporary Irish performance >> Bush Band

24 Irish trad music playing in Australia Players in Irish immigrant communities, national organisations, dancing classes Irish emigrants for 1960s immigration discovered by Australian folk and roots enthusiasts Bands and session scenes develop in Australia

25 Current bands and sessions in Melbourne Sessions: –Father Flanagan's (Nth Fitzroy) –Railway Hotel (Nth Fitzroy) –The Quiet Man (Flemington) –Bands- eg Triskel, Conundrum, The Beanies, Trouble in the Kitchen and others –Extension of repertoire: asymmetric Balkan style tunes,


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