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Title: Musical culture and the spirit of Irish nationalism, c. 1848-1972
Author: Parfitt, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 9604
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis surveys musical culture's relationship with Irish nationalism after the Irish confederacy's rebellion in 1848 until the beginning of the Northern Irish Troubles in 1972. It is the first such study to engage with a wide range of source material, including not only songs but also sources generated by political actors and organisations. It thus asks how far music and dance contributed to political movements and identities. It demonstrates that music provided propaganda, while performances created spectacles that attracted attention and asserted the strength, territorial claims, and military credentials of particular movements. Nationalists and unionists appropriated music and musical rituals from history, Britain, and one another. Appropriated British army rituals represented paramilitaries as legitimate national armies. Recycling songs made compositions easier to learn and suggested that new organisations acted as part of a continuous, historical movement. Appropriating songs and rituals from opponents asserted superiority over those opponents. Songs marked national allegiance and were therefore fought over extensively. For theorists and revivalists, defining Irish music and dance constructed notions of Irish nationhood. However, this thesis is as much about qualifying the claims often made for musical culture. One result of the failure to engage comprehensively with extra-musical source material is that studies often crudely credit music with having inspired unity among Irishmen and resistance against the colonial ruler. Music's relationship with resistance was more nuanced, and could cultivate disunity as much as the opposite. This study also problematises distinctions between British, unionist, and nationalist culture. These were not discrete categories, but overlapping soundscapes that interacted with and penetrated one another. Nor is 'traditional' music neatly distinguished from 'modern', 'commercial' music. As this study explains, traditional music's advocates demonstrated a consistent willingness to adapt and engage with modern methods. Overall, this thesis provides unprecedented insight into music's impact on nationalist politics.
Supervisor: Paseta, Senia ; Foster, Roy Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music ; Modern Irish History ; Ireland ; Nationalism ; Culture ; Politics