North Atlantic Fiddle Organisation Convention 2012 (University of Ulster, Derry)

Fintan Vallely is the academic convenor of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention’s biennial conference in late June, 2012. This is a unique conference set in a week of exceptional music performances in Derry city and Co. Donegal which addresses a challenging issue for Traditional musics in the 21st century – the shift of emphasis from music for dancing to music for listening. The conference continues the train of thinking begun at the Crosbhealach an Cheoil conferences in 1996 and 2003.

NAFCo’s guest speaker will be Neil Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus, Department of Folklore,Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is editor of the seminal 1993 book Transforming Tradition (the major analysis of Traditional musics revivals) and of key works on Bluegrass music

Theme of the conference: Traditional music has moved from a primary purpose of servicing dance, to expressing artistic preference. This is particularly so for the fiddle, one of the most versatile, accessible and universal of acoustic instruments. The conference will explore its current popularity in North Atlantic musics in terms of the shift of folk cultures’ interest from social process to aesthetic product. Now predominantly a free-standing performance genre, at its outer fringes traditional melody-making now shades into other forms – jazz, contemporary classical, rock and pop – and indeed the antithesis of genre, so-called ‘world’ music. Does this bring Alan Lomax’s ‘cultural grey-out’ closer to reality? Might traditional fiddling disappear in a cloud of intermeshed idioms and clichés expounded with fabulous virtuosity? Could Traditional musics lose their sense of aesthetic just as easily as their once-local meaning in relation to dance? Ó Cos go Cluas broadly addresses the process, product and the potential of this progression in 20 sessions which have 80 papers from all regions of the North Atlantic.