University of Notre Dame

Irish Music in North America

MUS 10143

Various genres of Irish music have been part of a global flow of music and for well over two centuries. This course explores the place of ?Irish? music in the USA, as an immigrant music initially, as well as a diasporic, ethnic and, critically, American civic music also. Beginning with an introduction to the historical forms of Irish music which have crossed the ?Green Atlantic?, we will explore of the place of Irish music in nineteenth and twentieth century American cultural life in particular, culminating in the study of specific instances of Irish music making and dissemination in Chicago up to the present day. Topics covered include: – Irish nostalgic songs of Thomas Moore and their influence on American music – The Irish music and Irish performers of American Vaudeville – Composing Irish Songs in the Tin Pan Alley Era – Irish Traditional Music in the American Metropolis (with an emphasis on Captain Francis O?Neill in Chicago) – American-made sound recordings of Irish Music on wax cylinders and 78rmp records fro 1899 up to c.1945 for the ethnic market. – The Irish Tenor in the American soundscape. – Irish musical representation (and Irish stereotypes) in Hollywood – North American festive culture celebrating Irish and Celtic Musics – Irish American pop/rock/rap bands influence by/influencing Irish traditional and popular music. – American country music and Country ?n? Irish. – American-based musical collaborations of Irish music with American, Indian music and Mexican genres – Contemporary Irish music scene in Chicago featuringcase studies of Liz Carroll, bohola and others. – The work of Irish music institutions in North America – local and international – Irish music (and dance) in 21st Century USA ? Post ethnic music? During the semester we will chart the emergence of a distinctly ‘American’ take on what constitutes Irish music in traditional and popular realms, as well as critically appraise the sounds, structures, forms and performances of ?Irish? music in North America which has either fused and hybridized with other vernacular and popular music, or has seemingly remained unchanged. Focusing on specific music texts in their historical and socio-cultural contexts, students will learn through a thematic approach, encountering concepts such as ethnicity, identity politics, post-colonialism, celticism, cultural intimacy, authenticity, structural nostalgia, hybridity, etc. We will come to understand the expressive and generic tensions in various styles of Irish music that push to become American while also retaining a sense of being tethered to Ireland (real or imagined). We will pay particular attention to the fieldwork, sound recordings and publications of Captain Francis O?Neill from Chicago, whose papers reside in the archived here in Notre Dame and whose legacy is still felt in Chicago, across the Midwest as well as in Ireland. Supporting literature will be drawn from critical Irish music studies, American music studies, vernacular music studies, ethnic studies, popular music studies, and ethnomusicology. The course will be underpinned by ethnomusicological and cultural theory approaches to understanding music culture, especially as it relates to issue of identity and performativity. We will also refer to Notre Dame’s Field Day Series in Irish Studies, many publications from which from directly engage with the relationship between Ireland and America. Youtube links and MP3 recordings will be supplied and we will watch documentary excerpts in class. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to encounter some visiting musicians and guest speakers during the semester. Finally, opportunities to engage in music making, where feasible, will be provided in order to embody the ?structures of feeling? of Irish Music(s) in North America.

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