Irish Appalachian Music
Hey, I’m writing a major paper for school on the connections between Irish Traditional Music and Appalachian music, less from a historical aspect and looking more at it through a theoretical way. I’m not sure if this is an appropriate place to post, but I’m sure it is a good place, what with all the incredible people out there. This paper is a long ways off at this point, like a couple of months away, but I have some thoughts, and I would like to toss those out and see what people think, and also see if anybody has any suggestions for tunes that you consider "archtypical" tunes of either the Anglo roots or "old timey" mountain, appalachian music. I’m going to be analysing about fifty or sixty tunes, hopefully, trying to tag a couple(or more) key characteristics in each genre, and then see if that means I can start tying things together. Anyways, my thoughts run along these lines: Depending on what era I get my sources from, they either say, in the case of the eariler (1950’s and before), that "Yes of Course the two genres are connected, because the settlers came from the british isles, and moved to appalachia, and that’s all there is to it!", or in more recent sources "Well, to some extent, that’s true, but there are also all of these other influences in the music here as well, like african slaves, and gypsy music". So I think I’m going to roll with the second sources for right now, and accept that there are other infuences, but I kind of want to see, what the anglo influences are, and what I can’t attribute to ireland and scotland, and what I have to say "I have no idea where _this_ came from". Anyways, I’m thinking that I might be able to do that by, again, analyzing many, many different songs, and coming up with these characteristics, trying to tie it all together, and then, as my gimmick, composing a tune that could be a kind of "missing link", one that has all of the characteristics, or rather, many or the characteristics that I have identified in both styles.
So, that being said, I have been analyzing classical pieces for school for about a year and a half now, but I haven’t done much in the folk region, so does anyone have any suggestions for things that I might want to pay special attention to, or something that I might not consider that I probably should, or the other way around, anything that doesn’t really matter? This is kind of a sneaky way to say "What should I be looking for?", but still, it’s worth a shot to throw out there to see if anybody has any ideas. Also, this is a research project, so if anyone has any book that they like on this subject, or a PBS documentary they recently saw, or anything along those lines, if you feel like dropping the name or description on here as well, that would be great. I’m not asking you guys to be actively searching anything out, I’m doing that already, but if you have read something cool that you feel like sharing, or you heard a good NPR bit, I would appreciate it if you would toss it my way. Also, something that will probably engender much more discussion than the rest of this post…What would you guys say are _the_ tunes that are archtypically irish, or appalachian? Some are both, I saw a post that had some good thoughts, like "Whiskey before breakfast", "Redhaired boy", "Soldier’s Joy", "Morpeth’s Rant", and suchlike, all good tunes that I have played in both Bluegrass jams and Irish jams as well, but what would you guys say are the tunes that are just "Irish", "Scottish", or "Appalachian"? I say "Appalachian" because that’s the region I’m from (Kentucky), and I think I want to focus on that region, because that’s what I put in my prompt at the beginning of the school year, but if you have a good tune that fits another American folk tradition (aside from creole, or anything more francophone like that), good ahead and toss it out there, I’ll probably use all of these, plus whatever else I can dig up.
Whew, that was a lot of info…Again, I’m not looking for anybody to write this thing for me, or go out and find the stuff, but if you know of anything that can help me on this massive (25-35 page) undertaking, I would appreciate it greatly. Thanks for taking the time to read to the bottom,