At 12:44 PM 11/5/03 -0500, almondbr wrote:
>So what do you think? Is traditional Irish music defined by a transmission
>process (Breathnach), the musical style (Canainn), or some hybrid of both?
With any "traditional" activity you are only on solid ground if it
is being done by the historic population in the historic circumstances.
Beyond that, it's always some kind of hybrid.
I have a lot of Scots ancestry but I'm born in America so I never
say I "am" Scottish. I play GH and U pipes and I try hard to fit
into the tradition under some circumstances.
I feel I can claim it for the GH pipes because the style that has
survived is military, a system specifically devised to be taught
to people in a formal way and setting rather than some natural
regional population. The fact of aural teaching is a smoke screen,
music can be very precise and classical without marking up sheets
Same for making uilleann pipes. Those antique sets are extremely
formal constructions, really not what many of us would call
a "traditional" or "folk" art even though makers didn't work by
printed records or the computers we now use to identify their
methods. Antique GH pipes are trad instruments, some in museums
are extremely crude.
The arrival of recording and market technology creates an enormous
"continental divide" in history. From here onwards it is virtually
impossible for anyone to learn or experience a traditional art in
a traditional setting. Even if we turn off the electricity and
hold a kitchen sessiun, everyone present has been overwhelmingly
informed by the post-traditional technological world.
It's like sailing--I can look outside and know the barometric pressure
and temperature accurately by the clouds, having compared weather
to meters over 40 years. The Brendan voyagers couldn't do this,
and even if I sail in a replica boat I do so with knowledge they
could never have had. Let alone the chance that climate change
might have made us two different physical worlds on the same
So we either have to say that all the trad arts have now ended
or else we need to adapt the term to a significant degree.
It's definitely messy any way we think about it.