John Blake, The Role of the Recording Studio in Irish Traditional Music (Other, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2013)

These details defined Mon Jan 5 21:21:31 2015  edit
 Author:  Blake, John 
 Title:  The Role of the Recording Studio in Irish Traditional Music 
 Degree, institution:  Other, Dublin Institute of Technology 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2013 (September 2013) 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (39pp) 
 Supervisor(s):  Peter Browne 
 Repository:  DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies 
 Content, key terms: 

In 1898, on one of his trips back to Ireland from Chicago, the renowned music collector Capt. Francis O'Neill recorded the blind Kerry piper Mici Cumba O Suilleabhain. According to O'Neill all did not go to plan. (O'Neill, 1913)

"Obligingly he played his best tunes into an Edison Phongraph, but a scowl instead of a smile overspread his handsome features when he heard the machine reproduce the tunes. Evidently regarding this as another instance of the devil's handiwork, he aimed several whacks of his cane at the enchanted box before he could be restrained" (O'Neill, 1913)

Although this may have been quite an extreme reaction, traditional Irish musicians have always had a somewhat troubled relationship with the recording process. Even today, many musicians talk of how their 'mojo' suddenly disappears once a microphone is placed in front of them, and treat the whole process with a high degree of suspicion. It could be argued that although the recording process has become easier, the pressure on the traditional musician when recording is greater than it was 100 years ago due to commercialism and increased expecatations in line with this.

In this MMus dissertation I will ask to what extent the recording process has influenced ITM since the advent of recording. I will explore the changes in repertoire, style and instrumentation since that time, to ascertain whether any changes that occurred were a natural progression or a result of the recording processes influece on the music, and whether regional styles in Ireland have been erodded by this process.

As a Irish traditional musician myself, both as a flute player and as an accompanist, and in my role as a sound eingineer, I feel I am ideally placed to conduct a study of this nature. I have a keen interest in ITM from the advent of recording until present day, and am curious as to whether things have really got easier for ITM musicians or whether there are too many variables now that most ITM albums are domestically produced.

The research for this project is sources for key books, journals, web resources and online information from vairous forums. I conducted inteviews with prominent figures from the traditional Irish music scene who had first hand experience both in recording and performing themselves. In these interviews I posed the same questions to each party in order to disseminate the information accurately and create a higher degree of clarity in my conclusion.

I also sourced and read many publications in relation not only to Irish music but to recording in general to ascertain similar traits in other genres of indiginous music.