The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1230 Friday, 15 June 2000.
From: Frank Whigham <
Date: Thursday, 15 Jun 2000 08:01:04 -0500
Subject: _Early Music_ Issue on Ireland
[From: An H-Net List for the Society for the Anthropology of Europe
I am Consulting Editor for the May 2000 issue of _Early Music_ (OUP),
devoted to the topic of Irish sources. It contains papers from an
international team of scholars, most of whom are members of the
International Research Group for Music of the Medieval Celtic Regions
(MMCR), of which I am Coordinator.
Although the topic may be a little marginal to the interests of most
members of the list, I thought it worth mentioning in case there are any
medievalists and/or people with a specific interest in Irish Studies
among you who might not otherwise come across this publication.
_Early Music_ is not as technical or as highly specialised as many a
musicological journal, one of its aims being to reach a varied
readership including those with a serious but more general interest.
You are cordially enjoined to take a look at it in your music libraries
where it should arrive quite soon. It enjoys wide international
As Consulting Editor, I have made quite conscious attempts to emphasise
sociological aspects where possible, as have several of my colleagues.
With reference to Irish artistic expression, there is much food for
thought and further debate on questions of cultural identity and music,
in particular with reference to that old chestnut, the British/Irish
centre-periphery problem. This and the equally woolly concept of an
Irish/European dichotomy reflects one of the most persistent examples of
bipolar thinking in commentary the arts in Ireland. The pluralist
realities thereby become lost in an over-emphasis on questions of
presumed (mono)cultural identity, local accent, and regional
distinctiveness - a long legacy of nationalist political thinking which
still retains its hold in much of the prevailing discourse on this
I have therefore used the opportunity to bring up several matters which
are rarely debated in international musicology, including the
encouragement of a 'four nations' figurational approach (as favoured by
the historian, Hugh Kearney).
A particular problem in musicology is the tendency at the centre to
relegate the Celtic-speaking regions to a backwater of folklife
exoticisms, thereby rendering quite impossible any discussion of other
aspects of artistic expression in their local contexts. And when the
(former) empire bites back it often tends to do so in rather defensive
manner by over-justification in terms of what is the 'genuine' article
and what is not - i.e., is it 'Irish'? and if not, it does not really
qualify for serious comment and analysis. Value judgements of 'should'
and 'ought', 'good' and 'bad', are still liberally sprinkled throughout
the pages of even the most recent books on music coming out of Ireland.
Topics covered in this issue include: new research on Irish chant;
secular music and the role of musicians in medieval Irish society;
studies of iconography and archaeology of music in Ireland; Irish
missionary activity in the middle ages and its legacy in the German
lands; the use of musical instruments and performance practice questions
in medieval liturgical and secular music; Dublin keyboard instruments,
c.1560-1860, their makers, performers and audiences; late medieval
anthems from Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. Reviews of relevant
recordings (including discussion of 'Irish music' as a problematic
Contributors: Barra Boydell, Patrick Brannon, Ann Buckley, Sara Casey,
Martin Czernin, Theodore Karp, Paul Nixon, Altramar Medieval Ensemble
(Jann Cosart, Angela Mariani, Chris Smith, David Stattelman).
For further details, please make direct contact with _Early Music_,
Oxford University Press, 70, Baker St, London W1M 1DJ, UK. Tel.
020-76.16.59.02; Fax 76.16.59.01.
Queries and expressions of interest are welcome, in which case please
contact me at the address below.
Cambridge CB3 9EU