Music and Irish Identity : Celtic Tiger Blues book cover
1st Edition

Music and Irish Identity
Celtic Tiger Blues

ISBN 9780367229573
Published February 4, 2019 by Routledge
198 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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


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Originally from Dublin, Gerry Smyth is Professor of Irish Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University, and has published widely on various aspects of Irish literature and music. His books include The Novel and the Nation (1997), Space and the Irish Critical Imagination (2001), Noisy Island: A Short History of Irish Popular Music (2005) and most recently The Judas Kiss: Treason and Betrayal in Six Modern Irish Novels (2015). Smyth is also an actor and musician: he has written, produced and performed a number of Irish-themed plays and albums including The Brother (2011), James Joyce's Chamber Music (2012), Will the Real Flann O'Brien ...? (2013) and Nora and Jim (2015). He is the Principal Co-ordinator of an international research network entitled Marginal Irish Modernisms, and is currently working on two projects: a critical study of Lord Dunsany, and a monograph on music in the life and literature of James Joyce.