Academic journal article Notes

Celtic Modern: Music at the Global Fringe

Academic journal article Notes

Celtic Modern: Music at the Global Fringe

Article excerpt

Celtic Modern: Music at the Global Fringe. Edited by Martin Stokes and Philip V. Bohhnan. (Europea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities, 1.) Lanham, MD; Oxford: Scarecrow Press, 2003. [vii, 293 p. ISBN 0-81084780-9. $65 (hbk.); ISBN 0-8108-47817. $35 (pbk.)] Index.

This is a collection of nine self-contained articles with introduction and afterward. The traditional musics of Celtic nations are the focus, but popular musics are also covered. Various aspects of "global pop" are discussed as they confront traditional musics, and popular genres are the focus of two of the articles. The book includes an array of viewpoints and methodologies, but has an essential focus: all the musics discussed are united not only by inclusion in the "Celtic" area, but by their position as national musics turned transnational in the postmodern world. Musical style as expressive of, and as implicated in the construction of, various levels of identity is a point ol departure. All the articles deal Lo some extent with the commodificaiion of music, both as style and as symbol; thus they also engage with the commodification of ethnicity. The unifying term "Celtic" is thoroughly critiqued throughout. This volume is not a primer-it does not aim to introduce either the traditional musics or the issues such as essentialism and transnationalism that are discussed. But for even undergraduate students who have had some introduction to the traditional styles, it provides several provocative points of departure.

The two editors are eminently qualified on the topics of identity and modernity. Philip Bohlman has published extensively on music's role in the formation of modern Jewish identity as well as in central Europe (see his Jewish Music and Modernity: Music and Cultural Contestation in Central Europe [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003]). Bohlman also edited two collections of essays on the history of ethnomusicology, both like this one comprised of contributions by authors writing from different perspectives (Ethnomusicology and Modem Music History [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991]; Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991]). Martin Stokes is wellknown for his work on identity and music in twentieth-century Ireland and Turkey; see his Ethnicity, Identity and Music: the Musical Construction of Place (Oxford; Providence, RI: Berg, 1994). Tim Taylor, author of the afterward, is one of our finest current thinkers on global music culture (see Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture [NewYork: Routledge, 2001]).

The authors of the interior articles in Celtic Modem draw on various disciplines including' human geography, cultural studies, and ethnography-based elhiiomusicology, They express a range of views, and no party line is privileged here, The nine articles are not grouped into sections nor strictly erdered, though there are, some eommon themes and a general topical flow, outward from locally based traditional musies to transnational and global musics, The first three deal with the construction and expression of national identity in musics, Caroline Bithell discusses essentiellst notions of the Corsiean and Celtie characters and the revival of Goniean folk music, Graeme Smith examinee the expression of national identity in Australian Bush Bands, focusing on the evolution of the genre, interaetion with the Folk Revival, and Irish traditional music in Australia, Johanne Devlin Trew studies the legacy of Irish Catholic and Protestant identity in festivals and social life of the Ottawa Valley in Canada, Jerry Gadden examines innovation in compositions for highland pipe bands, from the concept of ensemble as defined in competition rules to recent marketing strategies of champion bands. Some of the recent innovations are calculated to play to an audience that crosses over from popular music, an issue taken up in most of the following articles.

Scott Reiss discusses how the existence of a "Celtic Imaginary" interacts with the idea of tradition, and analyzes strategies currently operating in popular culture and popular musics to sustain this realm. …

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