The Irishness of Irish Music  book cover
1st Edition

The Irishness of Irish Music

ISBN 9781138265233
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

This book brings together important material from a range of sources and highlights how government organizations, musicians, academics and commercial companies are concerned with, and seek to use, a particular notion of Irish musical identity. Rooting the study in the context of the recent history of popular, traditional and classical music in Ireland, as well as providing an overview of aspects of the national field of music production and consumption, O'Flynn goes on to argue that the relationship between Irish identity and Irish music emerges as a contested site of meaning. His analysis exposes the negotiation and articulation of civic, ethnic and economic ideas within a shifting hegemony of national musical culture, and finds inconsistencies between and among symbolic constructions of Irish music and observed patterns in the domestic field. More specifically, O'Flynn illustrates how settings, genres, social groups and values can influence individual identifications or negations of Irishness in music. While the apprehension of intra-musical elements leads to perceptions of music that sounds Irish, style and authenticity emerge as critical articulatory principles in the identification of music that feels Irish. The celebratory and homogenizing discourse associated with the international success of some Irish musical forms is not reflected in the opinions of the people interviewed by O'Flynn; at the same time, an insider/outsider dialectic of national identity is found in various forms of discourse about Irish music. Performers and composers discussed include Bill Whelan (Riverdance), Sinead O'Connor, The Corrs, Altan, U2, Martin Hayes, Dolores Keane and Gerald Barry.

Table of Contents

Contents: Irishness and music: towards an interpretive framework; A brief and recent history of Irish music; Mapping the field; Snapshots; Ireland in music?; Irishness and music in a changing society; The music; Authenticity and Irish music; Conclusion: Irishness and music 'inside out'; Bibliography; Discography; Filmography; Index.

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Dr John O'Flynn is Senior Lecturer and Head of Music at St Patrick's College, Dublin City University, Ireland.


'The importance of music as an index of Ireland's changing cultural condition throughout the modern era is finally starting to be acknowledged. After much theoretical speculation in recent years as to the "Irishness" of Irish music, what was needed was a proper scholarly analysis of the subject - a painstaking, informed study of the factors that bear upon a general understanding of the nature, role and representation of music in modern Ireland. John O'Flynn's book provides exactly that. On the one hand, The Irishness of Irish Music makes a compelling contribution to a developing field. At the same time, it provides insights into the role of cultural experience in the negotiation of identity which demands the attention of anyone interested in modern Ireland.' Gerry Smyth, Liverpool John Moores University, UK ’O'Flynn takes an academically-accented approach to unravelling musical, cultural and political identities across a multitude of genres but has much to say about how music in and from Ireland acquires its 'Irishness.' ...As valuable for the questions it leaves unanswered as for the conclusions it reaches.’ R2 - Rock'n'Reel ’The authors’ dissection of myths and exposure of often under-acknowledged aspects of musical life in Ireland make[s] [...] a welcome addition to the study of a small musical island caught in the rising tide of globalisation. His chapter ’Mapping the Field’ should be essential reading for students and stakeholders of the Irish music industry.’ Popular Music ’A timely contribution to the fields of ethnomusicology, musicology, folklore, Irish and European studies, The Irishness of Irish Music offers the reader unique insight into the relations between production and consumption practices and larger socio-cultural discourses of authenticity and national identity formation in the Irish Republic. ... O’Flynn [...] greatly expand[s] our understanding of often under-acknowledged aspects of musical practice in Ireland.’ Jou