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Diploma in Irish Music Studies
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  1. Diploma in Irish Music Studies Presented by Méabh Ní Fhuarthain Centre for Irish Studies NUI, Galway

  2. Course Overview • Two–year programme for part-time students. • An integrated interdisciplinary introduction to the ways in which music and literature have contributed to the creation of identity in Ireland and abroad. • The course will provide insights from music, dance, television and film of the ways in which Irish performers have been actively involved in imagining and re-imagining Ireland, and illustrating how these cultural expressions provide vital space for societal discourse. • On completion of the course, students will have a critical knowledge of the ways in which Irish music and dance have contributed historically to the creation of identity, and how they act as dynamic vehicles for cultural expression.

  3. Entry Requirements • The course is aimed at mature students with an interest in modern Irish culture and in particular music and dance. • While there are no pre-requisites for admission to the Diploma, students are expected to have an informed interest in modern Irish culture and a considerable degree of self-motivation. • No previous knowledge of Irish music or the Irish language is required.

  4. Programme Structure and Assessment • The course is divided into four modules over a two year period. • Two modules are studied each year, one module per semester. • Each module is 12 weeks in length. • This involves one evening of lectures each week over two academic years. • Each module is assessed through coursework essay and written exam at the end of each semester.

  5. Year 1: Modules • Irish Music Studies 1: Transmission of Irish traditional music and dance. • Irish Music Studies 2: Irish Roots and World Rhythms: The Journey and Influence of Irish Music 1750-2006

  6. Year 2: Modules • Irish Music Studies 3: Negotiating Identity through Irish music and dance. • Irish Music Studies 4: Traditional Music and Commodification: ‘Pure Drop’ or ‘Pure Product’?

  7. Irish Music Studies 1: Transmission of Irish traditional music and dance. Methods, modes and sites of transmission in Irish traditional music and dance have radically altered during the course of the last century. The movement of traditional music and dance from the domestic to the public platform, from the house, to the pub and concert idiom was one of the most significant changes to occur. In addition, technological advances through the 20th century, particularly in the area of recording techniques and the introduction of radio has had dramatic consequences for Irish music.

  8. Much is made of the transition of Irish traditional music from a solo art form, to that of an ensemble expression. More recently, the institutionalization of music and dance as a subject for scholarly investigation, offers opportunity for lively debate. Government policy in relation to these traditions will also be discussed. We will also explore the complicated notions of orality, and how they may be applied to music and dance in the Irish context.

  9. Irish Music Studies 2: Irish Roots and World Rhythms: The Journey and Influence of Irish Music 1750-2006 This module will look at the pre and post-famine journeys of Irish music and song to the Americas. We will trace the journey of Irish music initially via the West Indies; its subsequent influence and shaping of the music of the Apalachian and Ozark mountains; and how that impacts on various musics such as black-face minstrelsy, old timey, bluegrass and country music. Related folk traditions will also be investigated, such as those in Britian, Brittany and Canada. The final leg of the musical journey manifests in musical forms in Ireland, through the filter of country and western, rockabilly, folk, rock-folk, and rock and roll.

  10. In addition, we will examine the development and history of the uilleann pipes, its roll as a solo and ensemble instrument, from crossroad to fireside throughout the 19th century, and American music hall to the modern concert stage, illustrating the cultural adaptability of folk traditions. Finally, this module will explore the genre known as ‘World Music’ and examine the place of Irish music within this genre.

  11. Irish Music Studies 3: Negotiating Identity through Irish music and dance Underlying much of the recent intellectualizing of traditional music are the issues of authenticity and tradition. What exactly do we mean by these terms? Musical expression frequently negotiates boundaries of identity, and both individuals and communities define who they are, and are not, through music. The complex relationship between Irish traditional music and a national/ethnic identity is one of the main areas that will be examined in this course.

  12. Irish immigrant communities used traditional music as a means of maintaining ethnic identity. Because of particular strategies that were employed, Irish traditional music also served, on occasion, as a means of assimilation. Parallel negotiations of identity took place on Irish soil, very often bound up with the aspiration towards a national ideal. This course will offer the opportunity to explore such issues.

  13. Irish Music Studies 4: Traditional Music and Commodification: ‘The Pure Drop’ or ‘Pure Product’? This module will look at the current patterns of production and consumption of Irish traditional music. How does a pre-modern music function in a post-modern world? Essentially, this module is concerned with the mediated manifestations of Irish traditional music. We will examine the rise of the world-wide commercial traditional music industry; the development of the the best-known Irish traditional and folk music record labels since the 1950s. Essential to this discourse, is the role of producer within the industry. The evolution of the contemporary ‘trad group’, largely made possible through an international popular music industry, will be examined, from the phenomenal success of the Clancy Brothers in the late 50s, to the ballad boom and the evolution of ‘supergroups’ such as The Chieftains, Planxty and The Bothy Band.

  14. Irish Music Studies 4: Traditional Music and Commodification: ‘The Pure Drop’ or ‘Pure Product’? Broadcasting and traditional music have a particular reciprocal relationship. Radio particularly, and latterly television, have played an influential role in creating the ‘stars’ of the genre, from Michael Coleman to Martin Hayes, while creating new communities of knowledge. The rise of the ‘new breed’ of singers will also be charted, such as the traditional/folk-rooted singer-songwriter John Spillane, illustrating a poetic sensibility which is peculiarly Irish. Film too has been a vehicle of musical expression, and the significance of the musical score in films from ‘The Quiet Man’ to ‘Titanic’ will be assessed. Finally, the interface between traditional music and popular music in Ireland will be evaluated.

  15. Diploma in Irish Music Studies For further enquiries on programme, please contact Ms. Samantha Williams Centre for Irish Studies Phone 091 492051 email samantha.williams@nuigalway.ie