Do singing practices need a re-think? Article in Béaloideas 81


The hind teat: strategic misassumption in the promotion of Traditional song in the English language. An article originally given as a paper at “A Changing Traditional Landscape : The Folklore, Song and Music of Ireland” – symposium in the Princess Grace Library, Monaco, September 2012. The paper was part of a session titled: Connecting the Dots: Identifying Key Changes and Developments in Irish Music, Song and Folklore in Recent Times.

Summary: This article explores the changing nature of the circumstances of and interest in one aspect of music, the singing of Traditional Irish song. It draws on personal observations made over the course of the first half century of Traditional music revival, revisiting onetime-fashionable preferences, opinions and favouritism with the hindsight of both many years of performing in the varied contexts offered by the nature of revival, and more than two decades studying and applying ethnomusicological analysis. It observes that a particular set of preferences and exclusions resulted in successful revival of traditional instrumental music up to high artistic and aesthetic practice standards, but that rigorous adherence to these for singing in the English language has not been so widely successful. Is fresh thinking needed? In particular, should there be a questioning of restrictive assumptions which do not realistically acknowledge the changed nature of Irish society today? Restrictions which have been self-imposed on singing are not only stifling for song, but are at odds with the freedom accorded instrumental music. 

Published in Béaloideas 81, the current issue of Journal of the Folklore of Ireland Society