Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 12

Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 12


periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
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An Píobaire
volume Number
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Píobaire, An 9 5 12 20131126 12 Tom Clarke, Wilbert Garvin, or Seán Potts (though he does get into the index)? Actually, The Companion to ITM, though given gener- ous reference in the Introduction is barely men- tioned otherwise, save in the article on its editorial genius, Fintan Vallely, while the Jour- nal of Music (formerly The Journal of Music in Ireland), despite a round dozen index en- tries, is not accorded an article of its own. Sim- ilarly, the first Crosbhealach an Cheoil Conference is mentioned only in its manifes- tation as a reaction to the television series, A River of Sound, and not in its own right as a notable corporate statement of the condition of traditional music and of traditional music scholarship at the end of the Twentieth Cen- tury. This could have the appearance of an at- tempt to airbrush the competition. Some other things have been left out too, and there are also minor errors. But quibbling negativity will not do. This is a welcome and courageous attempt to treat all the music and music-making in a country with equal seriousness, inspired by the inclusivity shown by The New Grove and especially by the Encyclopaedia of Music in Canada. However, given that Harry White’s Introduction is the only place that such an attempt could be made it’s a pity that the rationale behind the Ency- clopaedia was not more fully explained. As it is, the mindset of the student of ‘Western Art Music’ seems paramount: about two-thirds of the entries treat aspects of that, with a quarter being on Traditional Music and the remainder on Popular. Also, there seems to be little evi- dence of an effort to look at music as a unity, popular, traditional and ‘classical’ together. However, these are refinements; the real test of a work like this is how it opens new possibili- ties for openness, for the understanding and ap- preciation of the whole range of music making, how it affirms the legitimacy of all music; and here it fails, more, I think, because there is no rationale, rather than out of an attempt at claiming supremacy for ‘art’ music. There are two areas that establish this failure: education, and politics – meaning the politics of gender, sexuality, imperialism, the appro- priation of the elements of one musical genre by another, independence, nationalism, loyal- ism and class (to mention only a few). Education can be problematized in a few words: why should the educative process in ‘art music’ be described under ‘education’, while that in traditional music is described as ‘transmission’? The implication: that ‘art’ music is sophisticated, rational and difficult, while traditional music is created and absorbed unthinkingly, is insulting; and no less so be- cause it is unconscious. I’m pretty convinced that, despite the phalanx of advisers, the gen- eral editors’ understanding of, and sympathy for, traditional music is virtually absent. Fur- ther, in a small way, why are the classes of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, mentioned under both ‘Education’ and ‘Transmission’, while the similar activities of Na Píobairí Uilleann and the Willie Clancy and other Summer Schools are not mentioned at all in this context? Al- though the processes of transmission, past and present, are well described there seems to be an unwelcome ignorance on the part of the writer of the article of the agencies of trans- mission; and all that was needed would have been cross-references to the articles on ‘NPU’ and ‘Summer schools’; and the processes of transmission (or rather, ‘Traditional music ed- ucation’) should have been described and dis- cussed under ‘education’. However, as a Northerner, I am far more exer- cised by the way in which aspects of the poli- tics of music in Ireland has been distorted. There is a wonderful article by Martin Dowling (per- haps the best in the books) on ‘Music and poli- tics’ though it is confined to ‘traditional music and politics’. It captures all the complexity, es- pecially the appropriation of some aspects of music by political factions in the north. This en- cyclopaedia was intended to unify consideration
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