Abstracts

… more to come soon

This page will list the abstract for some of my publications and conference presentations.

Abstract of DIssertation
The Most (Imagined) Irish Place in the World?
The Interaction between Irish andNewfoundland Musicians, Electronic Mass Media, and the Construction of Musical Senses of Place
Evelyn Osborne
2013

Newfoundland has been described as “the most Irish place outside of Ireland” (McGinn 2000, 8). As a North Atlantic island and a former British colony, Newfoundland shares many ethnic, geographic and economic similarities with Ireland. The actual musical culture in Newfoundland is a blend of western European immigration and musical technological flows. However, the Irish connection is privileged in discourses of musical cultural heritage. This dissertation examines how interactions both live and meditated by radio, television, and recordings between Irish and Newfoundland musicians have contributed to the construction of musical senses of place as having an Irish foundation. Using three case studies of Irish musicians throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, this dissertation examines the construction of Irishness in Newfoundland music, particularly in relation to instrumental (fiddle/accordion) music and musicians.

The first case study examines an Irish-American group, The McNulty Family (1920s-1960s). Newfoundland businessman, J. M. Devine (1876-1959) both featured them on weekly radio shows (ca.1944-1974) and sponsored their 1953 tour of the island. Their music was heard regularly during the development of the Newfoundland recording industry and was highly influential in the establishment of local recorded repertoire.

The second case study examines Ryan’s Fancy, a trio of Irishmen who moved to Newfoundland during the cultural revival of the 1970s. They became an integral part of the community and their (inter)national television show (1975-1977) highlighted rural Newfoundland musical traditions through a folklore-based documentary approach.
The final case study examines the interactions between Irish fiddler Séamus Creagh and local St. John’s instrumentalists from the late 1980s into the early 21st century. In 2003, Creagh released a joint CD project entitled Island to Island: Traditional Music from Newfoundland and Ireland. This chapter explores how some St. John’s musicians perceive Irish music in relation to Newfoundland music.

This work demonstrates that Irish music introduced by electronic mass media is a major component of the Newfoundland recording repertoire and construction of musical senses of place. However, there is also a strong sense of Newfoundland music as a related, but separate, entity. It is often through Irish music and recordings that musicians come to discover and appreciate Newfoundland music.

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The Big 6 Clothing Store ‘Once a Number, Now an Institution’: The Role of a Business Man’s Musical Tastes in Shaping Irish-Newfoundland Repertoire

Conference Presentation at Society of Ethnomusicology, November 15, 2013

The music of Newfoundland and Labrador is often characterized as Irish.  In the mid-20th century Irish-American vaudevillians, the McNulty Family, were regularly broadcast on Newfoundland radio. The McNulty’s popularity played a significant role in the development of the Irish-Newfoundland musical identity.  The Big 6 clothing store, known by its slogan ‘Once a Number, Now an Institution,’ sponsored two radio shows per week for thirty years (1944-1974). These shows featured McNulty Family songs almost exclusively. In 1953, Devine brought the McNultys from New York to Newfoundland for a concert tour. On April 25th, 1953, Devine published his stock list of 100 McNulty Family recordings in the Evening Telegram.  Through ethnographic interviews as well as discography research at New York University’s Archives of Irish America, and the Centre of Newfoundland Studies at Memorial University; I have discovered that half of this repertoire has since been re-recorded by Newfoundlanders hundreds of times. Many of these McNulty songs are now naturalized as Newfoundland traditional music and assumed to have been brought by Irish immigrants. In comparison, very few of the McNulty’s recordings not stocked by the Big 6 have entered the recording repertoire.  With the 2011 release of a tribute album by Newfoundland musical group Shanneyganock, the effect of the McNulty Family is still notable in the 21st century. This paper will explore how historical ethnomusicology research is illuminating for today’s understanding of musical identities. It will also highlight how one man’s musical tastes can help shape local recording repertoire.

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