Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Hey all,

I am a research student in Musicology at UCD Dublin and I am doing research on emotion and music with a special focus on Irish traditional music sessions (as I am a big fan of ITM). I was wondering if you would like to help me by answering a few questions in my online questionnaire. This questionnaire is very basic and short, as I am only trying to get a general idea of what emotions are most relevant to instrumental Irish tradional music (I excluded songs and airs as these are more strongly connected to language). It will not take more than 5 minutes!!

The link to the questionnaire is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q7ZSV93

Also, if anyone has any tips or suggestions in terms of websites or other places where I could post this questionnaire, I would be grateful!

Thanks!

Linde

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

It’s a bit of a shame you concentrate on music in session. Apart from the fact that ‘session’ can range from the something you would want to run away from to something exhilarating, sessions may not be the most conducive place to pour emotion into music.

Interesting subject though, if you can get the right angles.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I filled it out for you.

But I agree with the Prof. Sessions are as much about a social dynamic as a musical one and when it comes to emotions you feel yourself or perceive in the music, you can’t separate it from the social. There are a lot of variables that effect your moment-to-moment perception of a session, everything from the atmosphere in the bar, whether or not you’re getting free booze, how much you like or how well you know the people you’re playing with (walking into a strange session for the first time is nervewracking, and the better they are, the more nervewracking it is), whether or not the session is plagued by serial noodlers, out of time bodhrans, overly enthusiastic tune pouncers, and many more.

A fast session can be exhilarating, if everyone can hold the speed and are really locked on to one another and flying along, or irritating, if you think they’re playing too fast for their own good and just thrashing out the tunes.

Perhaps you’ve already factored this into your research. In any event, if you’re researching emotion and music itself, then best perhaps to investigate solo playing, or duet playing. I think the session question is interesting, perhaps more interesting, as it is layered with all these extra-musical emotional and social negotiations.

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I agree, I think you are referring to session playing, in order to mean specify your research on ‘Irish traditional music in instrumental dance music form’. This also excludes slow airs and songs. You could do the same exact project investigating it in this way (as suggested above, include emotions during solo and duet music as well). UNLESS you wanted to somehow compare the emotions felt during a session to that of listening or playing the music solo. Very interesting keep it up and best of luck to you. (I’ve send you a private message as well connected to the survey).

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I was thinking about this a bit more. Most musicians I would associate with emotionally charged music wouldn’t be associated with sessionplaying much at all. Tommy Potts, Martin Rochford, Paddy Canny, their first interest would not have been playing a session. Other cases like Tommy Peoples, Bobby Casey, Martin Hayes even, they would pour their soul into their music when playing on their own but they would switch off, if you like, they emotion when sitting in session and play different music almost.

Just a thought.

I did fill out the survey but didn’t submit, ‘sessionmusic’ is too broad a church and the answers would at best cover how I’d feel in some cases.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I agree with the prof. Not least because the vast majority of ‘sessionmusic’ is bloody awful.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Wow, so many responses, thank you so so so much!!!! I really appreciate your comments as well. This is the first time that I am doing this kind of research (questionnaires), so I am learning a lot from your comments. Thanks!

I realise that I have not been very clear in some aspects and admit that I am struggling a bit with the terminology. At first I wanted to write ‘Irish dance music’ but I was afraid that it was not clear that the focus was especially on music played at sessions. And if I would write ‘Irish traditional music played at sessions’ I was afraid that people would count songs as well. I therefore chose the term ‘instrumental Irish traditional music played at sessions’. I wish I could edit the questionnaire, but that would delete all your answers. I will be very careful with the terminology in my further research. Jcawley: your suggestion is brilliant, thanks!

As for the sessions: I should have mentioned that my focus is entirely on sessions (and my research in general is focused entirely on Irish traditional music: no other musical genres are involved). I actually want to find out how the social, psychological and cultural context of sessions influences your emotions and emotional behaviour (including the extent to which those emotions are controlled at sessions). I will go into that further in my in-depth interviews. Your comments on this are very hepful for my preparation for these interviews, thank you!

For now, I am trying to make a distinction between terms that are most relevant to the emotional experience of session playing/listening in general and terms that are not so relevant. I know that no two sessions are the same, so I am looking for general answers. I realise that this is quite hard, in fact, the entire phenomenon of emotion is quite intangible and hard to put your finger on (and that is what interests me so much!).

Also, someone commented on the website that it does not make sense to separate questions 7 and 8; unfortunately I can’t, because the two lists of emotions are based on two theoretical models which I cannot use interchangeably.

So, again, thanks, and I will take all your comments into account! If you have any more comments or critiques, let me know! ๐Ÿ™‚

Linde

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

‘I should have mentioned that my focus is entirely on sessions (and my research in general is focused entirely on Irish traditional music: no other musical genres are involved)’

There’s an interesting thing there, sessions are probably the most visible side of Traditional music. Yet they are such a small part of traditional music making. Something is bound to get skewed there.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Professor P, Linde isn’t asking about how your heroes feel at a session, he’s asking you, and me, how we feel.

How would you know anyway how someone else is feeling emotionally as they play at a session? I record my own playing a lot, and I have recordings where I know I was in an elevated emotional state, feeling entirely caught up in the music, and others where I know I was thinking about something else entirely. I can’t hear the difference in the recordings.

The idea that you can "pour your soul" into music is a superstitious fantasy.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I was, obviously, giving some examples where session playing differs considerably from a person’s more personal music practice. I did that by picking a few examples of musicians who are generally acknowledged as having a high emotional content in their music (indulge the superstition there for a moment), not particularly by citing ‘my heroes’ (whatever that means).

I don’t know how it is for you, for me certainly playing in a ‘session’ is very different from playing on my own. And then again, how emotional involved one gets with a session can vary immensely from the company and the rapport between the people involved.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Are you assuming that people who identify themselves as Irish Traditional musicians are in fact Irish? Or do you mean someone who plays Irish Traditional music?

Just wondering as a non-Irish player of Irish Traditional music…..

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I agree with the Prof. (again). The experience of playing in a session is incredibly different from that of playing alone, or that of playing with one other person in the house. With the former, it is much more about the music, what I can put into the tune, how I feel about the tune. At a session, how I’m feeling about the music and even each tune is dependent on a myriad of external factors, many of which I’ve outlined in my previous post. I can’t say how it is for others, but I would say the social dynamic of the session inexorably alters my musical perception thereof, whereas when I play solo or play with my OH, I feel less affected by other stuff and the emotional experience comes out of the music itself.

Bernie, I think you can figure out how I’m generally feeling about playing in any session. ๐Ÿ™‚ It ranges from happy, excited, calm and zen-like (once, it happened, I swear), nervous, stressed out, timid, bored, p*ssed off, and I’m not any good at being subtle about it.

As far as research methods go, questionnaires are always a little bit narrow, don’t reveal that much, and as an undergrad especially, there will always be one question you could have worded better. Nevertheless it is quite a common and effective method for selecting a group of participants who you will interview later, and those interviews will be the meat of your data. When I did a research project that involved using questionnaires, we did so only to select a group of people for qualitative interviews, and we didn’t say what our exact research question was when we gave out the surveys on campus. If the person responded on the questionnaire in a way that indicated they were the sort of person we wanted to interview and said that they were up for being interviewed, we then emailed them our exact question, a blurb about the purpose of the interview, and then asked if they would still like to be interviewed. In the final write up of that study, we said very little about the quantitative data from the questionnaires.

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Just a quick response to minijackpot: no, you don’t have to be Irish. With ‘Irish traditional musician’ I mean a musician who plays Irish traditional music. ๐Ÿ™‚

THESE are obviously the answers to the questionnaire:

Grumpy
Happy
Sleepy
Bashful
Sneezy
Dopey
Stealthy

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Waaaaay too many ticky boxes. Sorry.

And I don’t personally believe music has any emotion inherent in it, or that there is a limited range of emotions (and other forms of creative expression) which can be explored. Whatever the musician wants to say, that will come out

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

One thing that you may want to consider is how subjective music is and the freedom one gains by exploring it’s subjectiveness.

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

"Bernie, I think you can figure out how I’m generally feeling about playing in any session. ๐Ÿ™‚ It ranges from happy, excited, calm and zen-like (once, it happened, I swear), nervous, stressed out, timid, bored, p*ssed off, and I’m not any good at being subtle about it. "

Ok, but do you think anybody listening to you could hear any of that in your music? Suppose you are feeling happy and excited, and you play a melancholy slow air?

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Oh, yeah. Being worried at a session = playing too fast and sloppy.

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

But that’s not what I was asking about. Anxiety can cause a deterioration in the performance of any demanding physical task, but that’s a quite different issue from "pouring your emotion into the music". So I asked my question in a particular way.

I think if you were happy and excited and you played a melancholy slow air, the listeners would hear melancholy, not happiness and excitement.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

If I’m happy and excited and I choose to let my audience to know I’m happy and excited, that’s what will come through, regardless of the supposed attributes of the music I’m playing.

(except I’m not that good of a musician yet)

(and, like an actor, I can choose to hide my current emotions)

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

I hate to say it, but the questionnaire is specifically about session music. So if you are allowing anything to affect your "performance", you’re in the wrong bloody pub.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

How do you know that’s what will come through Tirno? I think people say this stuff because that’s how they think things should be, and not because of how things actually are.

I’d like to hear a recording of you playing a melancholy tune in such a way that your happiness and excitement come through.

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

"If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)"

Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

You can take most useful ideas a little too far Michael, and I think that’s what you’re doing here with the useful idea that playing at a session should not be a "performance".

Even if you aren’t "giving a performance" you are still "performing a physical task".

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Yes, I’m well aware of the two definitions of "performance" and was being a tad facetious.

However, when "giving a performance", part of that act could well be acting. And in this music it’s probably best to "act" natural, but not essential. What is essential though is to appear natural. And whether this appearance is an act or not is irrelevant.

The interesting difference about a session though is that to really enjoy it properly you have to actually be natural - otherwise there’s no point to it, you might as well be performing. And it’s a shame for some people who have difficulty with this and end up either having to try to act natural (which is a performance in itself) or openly giving a performance (which we all know is one of the most irritating things to witness people doing at a session).

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Bliss

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

The minds that made this music have moved on, emotionally. Music with no soul has no emotion

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Re: Questionnaire about Irish traditional music and emotion

Try also posting on Mudcat.