Came across the following in the letters page of The Irish Times this morning; thought people might be interested.
Madam, - I refer to Siobhan Long’s articles the “Sean Nos tradition” and “Fanning the flames of tradition”.
I am a traditional musician from many generations of musicians and singers, a purist and proud of that term. To me, being a purist means accepting Ireland’s cultural heritage, wholeheartedly and unconditionally in all its forms in a pluralist society. It has a visceral dimension that is not to be experimented with. Full marks to The Irish Times for the Irish language section every Wednesday for many years.
Ms Long refers to “everything that is contemporary about traditional music”. This description has gained currency in the arts over the years. Frankly, I resent it being superimposed on the traditional arts.
To me, it is a marketing label that conveniently masks the poor-relation treatment of traditional music for many decades in Ireland, which is always denied.
Some of this subject is always a case of de gustibus non est diputandum: it is useless to argue about matters of taste, particularly in music. However, there are two trends that are currently adversely affecting traditional music, in my view,
One is the fad for “experimentalism”, believed by many to be innovative and to enhance “the image” of traditional music at home and abroad. ‘The other is the yet unrecognised trend of futurism - music played retrogressively at a much-increased tempo and greatly affected by naked sensationalism, as distinct from pathos.
Many musicians, young and senior, are affected by this trend -now dubbed “the modern tempo” - as it has become synonymous with brilliance and/or professionalism.
Traditional music is thriving and constantly evolving within its own idiom, I believe. The tradition does not need to fuse in a voguish way with other music forms, supposedly to maintain its credibility, and it must be respected and protected from intrusive soundscapes of percussion - the “big sound” mentality - that stifle melody and pathos.
Wish I’d said that.
Also found this in a Magazine interview with piper Pat McNulty from Glasgow:
“The fact is, melody instruments like pipes simply don’t go with harmonic instruments like guitars and bouzoukis. They simply don’t. And they certainly don’t go with bodhrans”.
Wish I’d said that as well; in fact I’m sure I have; many times.