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You may not recall it, but several months ago one of you referred me, with
enough detail to be helpful, to Lawrence McCollough's Irish Music in Chicago:
An Ethnomusicological Study.  U. Pittsburgh, 1978.  It took me this long to get
it by interlibrary loan, but it was worth the wait.  Thanks for the reference,
whoever gave it.
The main thrust of the thesis is very much to the point of some of the recent
on-line discussions.  Let me offer a couple of quotations as food for thought:
"The later part of the 19th century is...the period when the practice of
harmonic accompaniment is believed to have started gaining favor among Irish
folk musicians, first with the piano and later with the guitar...."  60-61.
"Irish music is fundamentally a tradition of solo performance in which the
melodic line is of paramount importance."  62.
These two quotations might make McCullough appear to be a strict
traditionalist, but on p. 123 he states:
"Style in Irish music, though guided by certain conventions, is not preceived
by traditional musicians as a rigid, static set of rules that must be
dogmatically or slavishly followed.  It is, instead, a flexible,
context-sensitive medium through which an individual's musical expression can
be given a form and substance that will invest his performance with the desired
communicative values."
I've never taken more delight in a PhD thesis--most of them don't make a good
read.  But I'd recommend this thesis to all of those interested in Irish music
and its history.  Happy reading, and happy listening!
Richard :-)
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