Music and Irish Identity represents the latest stage in a life-long project for Gerry Smyth, focusing here on the ways in which music engages with particular aspects of Irish identity. The nature of popular music and the Irish identity it supposedly articulates have both undergone profound change in recent years: the first as a result of technological and wider industrial changes in the organisation and dissemination of music as seen, for example, with digital platforms such as YouTube, Spotify and iTunes. A second factor has been Ireland’s spectacular fall from economic grace after the demise of the "Celtic Tiger", and the ensuing crisis of national identity. Smyth argues that if, as the stereotypical association would have it, the Irish have always been a musical race, then that association needs re-examination in the light of developments in relation to both cultural practice and political identity. This book contributes to that process through a series of related case studies that are both scholarly and accessible. Some of the principal ideas broached in the text include the (re-)establishment of music as a key object of Irish cultural studies; the theoretical limitations of traditional musicology; the development of new methodologies specifically designed to address the demands of Irish music in all its aspects; and the impact of economic austerity on musical negotiations of Irish identity. The book will be of seminal importance to all those interested in popular music, cultural studies and the wider fate of Ireland in the twenty-first century.
Introduction: Reflections on Music and Irish Identity
Prolegomena: A Musical Day
1 Nationalism and Gender in the Music of Augusta Holmès: Notes from an Unwritten Biography
2 ‘I Have Left My Book’: Setting Joyce’s Chamber Music Lyrics to Music
3 Thinking in Circles: Music and Cyclical Form in Joyce’s Chamber Music
4 The Representation of Dublin in Story and Song
5 Musical Stereotyping and Irish Identity: The Case of the Pogues
6 ‘The Orchestra of Memory’: Music, Sound and Silence in Dermot Healy’s A Goat’s Song
7 ‘Join Us’: Musical Style and Identity in Bernard MacLaverty ‘My Dear Palestrina’
8 Singing the Fisherman’s Blues: Mike Scott and the Grain of the Irish Voice
9 ‘About Nothing, About Everything’: Listening in / to Tim Robinson
10 Celtic Tiger Blues
Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.
Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.