Irish Scene & Sound
Identity, Authenticity & Transnationality
Among Young Musicians

By Virva Basegmez
August 2005
Almqvist & Wiksell
ISBN: 9171550844
364 pages, Illustrated, 5 " x 8 "
$87.50 Paper Original


This is a Ph.D. dissertation. Ireland has long been famous for its rich traditional music. Yet the recent global success of Irish pop, rock and traditional music has transformed the Irish music scene into a world center attracting musicians, tourists, fans and the music industry from both Ireland and abroad. This ethnographic study of young musicians in Dublin and Galway in the late 1990s analyses the Irish music scene in terms of identity, authenticity and transnationality contextualized in contemporary Ireland.

The study explores the making of Dublin and Galway into central places in the Irish music scene. It identifies musical links between the cities, and how for the young musicians, Dublin has become a 'springboard' and Galway a 'playground.' These cities provide the local arenas where young folks and popular musicians negotiate individual and collective lifestyles, identities and musical genres. By developing the concept of 'musical pathways,' the study shows how these mobile musicians constantly interact with different musical sounds and scenes.

The idea that Irishness has to emanate from traditional music is challenged by a diversity of musical genres and pathways of the musicians. Some musicians embrace a certain construction of Irishness while others reject it, but they are all involved in this process in one way or another. Contrary to older generations of traditional musicians, a global awareness is more important among the young musicians than a 'restricted' view of Irishness. As the young musicians are interested in multiple musical ideas and influences, they are often reluctant about a 'narrow nationalism.'

They make use of the fact that the music of the contemporary world is very much interconnected. This study discusses transnational processes of the Irish music scene in the late 1990s primarily on local and national levels in Ireland. This reveals how globalization has contributed to the popularity of Irish music yet without controlling its pathways completely. In Ireland the past is still in the present.

Social Anthropology; Music History
Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology, No. 57

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