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Ancestral Imprints

Histories of Irish Traditional Music and Dance

Edited by Thérèse Smith

Publication Year: 2012

This book is about the history and practice of recording Irish traditional music and dance, and the variety of documents that exist as a result of the activities of collectors both in Ireland and in North America.Essay topics range from analyses of nineteenth-century printed documents, to the earliest wax cylinder recordings, to famous, rather large collections, and small all but unknown ones. Authors examine the role of the fieldworker/collector, the impact of broadcasting on regional style, the idea of “Irish” versus “American” style in early uilleann pipe recordings, and the impact of the recording process and marketing on traditional song, amongst other topics. Approaches vary from the analytical—comparing and analysing various settings of tunes and titles—to the personal—reflecting on the impact of one’s own collecting and fieldwork on a regional tradition.Authors also interrogate how music serves to create and articulate identity, how changing contexts and emic and etic perspectives on music can influence a music’s evolution. From original manuscripts in the National Library, to printed documents, audio and video recordings, and art work, this book examines the reception history of Irish traditional music and dance.

Published by: Cork University Press


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pp. C-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Introduction Footprints in our Sand

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pp. vii-xvi

Over the past two decades, two main trends that have come to the forefront of a variety of disciplines, and indeed of interdisciplinary studies, have been reception history and memory, the latter’s interface with cognition and identity receiving particular attention. Ron Eyerman...

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1. From Waterford to Berlin and Back to Ireland

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pp. 1-20

This is a detailed report about a collection of wax cylinders of Irish traditional music that has been preserved in the Berlin Phonogramm- Archiv1 for 102 years: the collection of Dr Richard Henebry (also known in Irish as Risteárd de Hindeberg, and...

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2. Transcriptions of a Mayo Farmer

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pp. 21-33

In 2005, I conducted a search of Irish music manuscripts in various repositories with a view to choosing a manuscript which would become the subject of a Master of Arts degree. I discovered a copy of the Philip Carolan Manuscripts in the Irish Traditional Music...

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3. Recording Music in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 34-43

George Noble Plunkett was a scholar, politician, historian and revolutionary. Born at 1 Aungier Street, Dublin, on 3 December 1851, George was the youngest of the three children of Pat and Elizabeth Plunkett (Breathnach, 1971: 8). As a child, George attended a Jesuit...

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4. Recording a Tradition

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pp. 44-60

Patrick Weston Joyce was born in 1827 in Ballyorgan, County Limerick, and was the son of Garrett and Elizabeth (more commonly known as ‘Betty’) Joyce. It is not known exactly when the Joyce family moved to Ballyorgan, but they appear in the 1821 Census of Ireland...

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5. Captain O’Neill and the Americans

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pp. 61-82

The main outline of Francis O’Neill’s musical life is known to most people with an interest in Irish traditional music: an Irish-born emigrant to America, he rose to become chief of police in Chicago, collected tunes from Irish musicians there and published...

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6. Capturing Diversity Whilst Creating Canon

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pp. 83-106

Resourceful advocates of Irish folk music were quick to realise the value and importance of the emerging sound-recording technology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as a means to capture and reproduce musical sound for the first time. This...

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7. The Notion and Process of Collecting, Recording and Representing Irish Traditional Music,Song and Dance

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pp. 107-117

This paper looks at the notion and process of collecting, recording and representing Irish traditional music, song and dance for archival purposes. It examines the role of the archive in the Western world and focuses on the Muckross House Collection and my experience...

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8. Broadcasting Bailiúchán Bhairbre

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pp. 118-127

In the course of my research on Irish traditional music in the Aran Islands, I have spent a great deal of time searching for sound recordings of the music of the past. My search first brought me to sound and radio archives in Ireland, England and America, but I was soon...

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9. Radio and Regions in Irish Traditional Music

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pp. 128-142

Recording and broadcasting have had an enormous impact on the development, dissemination and popularity of Irish traditional music. There are a variety of aspects to the study of the geographical impact of radio and recording technologies, and I am here concerned...

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10. Popularity and Revival

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pp. 143-158

The 1950s in Ireland can be viewed as a starting-point from which multiple changes in economic, social and cultural practices began to take place. The economy in the early years of the decade was in difficulty, emigration was high and the rural landscape altered rapidly...

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11. Sean-Nós Singing

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pp. 159-167

Rather than approaching sean-nós singing ontologically or trying to address the difficulty of its definition, it may be more beneficial to discuss it in its functional and temporal contexts and, in so doing, provide an insight into how it was perceived throughout the last century...

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12. Mediated Music?

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pp. 168-180

Irish traditional song performance mediates the divide between local and global music markets through the adoption of modern technologies for recording and distribution. These technologies facilitate the production of a music product that can be sold, exchanged...

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13. Irish Music at the Edge of History

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pp. 181-206

For many years now – if truth be told, for some three decades since the late 1970s, my entire career as an ethnomusicologist – I have offered a timid disclaimer to my students and colleagues working on and active within Irish music, to wit, that I am not a specialist in Irish...


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pp. 207-220


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pp. 221-234

Index of Songs andTunes

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pp. 235-238

Main Index

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pp. 239-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781909005044
Print-ISBN-13: 9781859184929
Print-ISBN-10: 1859184928

Publication Year: 2012