The difference of Irish music
in Are the Irish different?
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This chapter sketches the trajectory of Irish musical difference and suggests why it is that the generally homogenizing forces of modernisation produced a peculiar outcome for Irish musical culture. The trajectory of Irish modernity runs simultaneously with the trajectory of the formation of 'Irish traditional music' as a constellation of forms and practices. Political defeat, the trauma of the Great Famine, the failure to industrialise and Ireland's off-the-chart demographic profile, all helped to produce a unique musical culture which continued to develop in the nineteenth century. The chapter provides the context for one of the key ingredients of Irish musical difference: the complete failure of its art music culture beyond the baroque and classical periods. Whatever the potential may have been generated by the vigorous musical culture of Georgian Dublin, the nineteenth century saw the collapse of this elite musical culture and the isolation of plebeian culture from its influence.

Editor: Tom Inglis

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