Irish Musical Tradition

Answer the following questions, with reference to your reading (see Study Guide) and/or to information presented in lectures. These are not questions that have only one right answer; feel free to express your own opinions. Good answers will demonstrate that you read the relevant pages in the textbook, and that you understand the concepts in the Intervenors handout. Quality is more important than quantity here; don’t worry overly about word count.

Formal citations are not necessary for this assignment unless you use a source outside of the textbook and the Intervenors handout. When quoting from or referring to an idea in the supplied readings, do include the name of the author (e.g. “According to David Whisnant…” or “Anthony Wallace defines…” or “Richard Handler and Jocelyn Linnekin believe that…” or “Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin [author of our textbook] argues that…” or “Helen Brennan suggests that…”). Feel free to use sources/definitions beyond the course materials.

1. Would you describe the actions of the London Gaelic League and the Irish Dancing Commission regarding Irish dance as “inventing tradition”? As revival? As a nativistic movement? A revitalisation movement? Why? Include some discussion of definitions in your answer, as well as an overview of the efforts of the two organizations. If you find it helpful, you might consider how things might be different now if the London Gaelic League and the Irish Dancing Commission hadn’t acted when they did. [Suggested length: 1 page +, 15 points]

Choose three of the following 5-point questions to answer [Suggested length: 2-3 paragraphs per question].

2. Is a revived tradition “authentic” (or “genuine”)? Hint: Consider carefully the meanings of terms. OR you may choose to answer the question: Is a “revivalist” — who may be from outside the original culture — an authentic tradition-bearer? (This is a question with which some festival presenters have wrestled.)

3. Give an example in which the process of selection/intervention by an “official” person or organization excluded elements of musical/dance culture that were valued by others. OR give an example in which the process of selection/intervention by an “official” person or organization imposed new standards on a tradition.

4. Is formalized teaching beneficial or harmful to traditional culture previously passed on informally? What are some of the advantages and drawbacks of having traditional music and dance competitions? (Consider the functions of the activities, and the consequences to the individuals involved as well as the tradition itself.)

5. Describe some issues that modern scholars have with how songs or tunes were collected in the past (flaws in methodology). Give at least one example.

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