Aileen Dillane, Sound tracts, songlines, and soft repertoire: Irish music performance and the city of Chicago (PhD, University of Chicago, 2009)

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 Author:  Dillane, Aileen 
 Title:  Sound tracts, songlines, and soft repertoire: Irish music performance and the city of Chicago 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, University of Chicago 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2009 (2009) 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (284 pp.) 
 Repository:  University of Chicago Library 
 General specialism:  Ethnomusicology 
 Content, key terms: 
 Abstract: 

In this study, I view Irish (traditional) music as, first and foremost, a local (and ethnic/post ethnic) music in and of the City of Chicago. By placing the 'City' at the center of my exploration, and by acknowledging Irish music's relationship to it (as opposed to casting Irish music as an emigrant/immigrant music in a foreign site), this dissertation performs initially two tanks. First, it critiques conventional historiographies of Irish music which tether Irish traditional music to nation-building projects shaped by discourses of authenticity. Second, it offers a productive alternative to explicitly (or implicitly) generated 'Irish music in the Diaspora' models of understanding that treat Irish music as somehow isolatable from its site of production in a perceived Diasporic 'periphery'. While acknowledging the 'Diaspora' concept influences a local understanding Irish music in Chicago, I shift the emphasis from emigrant to ethnic/post ethnie, civic, and cosmopolitan concerns in Chicago that in turn consolidates this alternative historiography of Irish music.

In invoking the 'City', Chicago is revealed as a particular expression of the modern, topographic moment, as an organizing principle and civilizing force, as a site of production and medium of exchange, as a nexus of real and imagined relations between a citizen and his/her city, as home to ethnic groups with locally informed understandings of the structures of identification, as a place of possibility and creative (as well as economic) opportunity, and as a musical form. Each chapter centers on a commercially available or publicly encountered 'text' upon which I perform a synchronic and diachronic readings in order to illustrate how structures of meaning in Irish music have been generated, and continue to be (re)performed or contested, in Chicago. I explore how Irish music performs Chicago and how Chicago performs in Irish music.

Sound Tracts speaks to the spatial dimension of music and how music represents place materially and metaphorically. Songlines alludes to structural and historical, local and regional connections performed in and through music. Manifesting as both structure and history, Soft Repertoire becomes a site and practice for the negotiation of canonical representations and of structures of feeling