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Indigenous Celtic Music: Preservation and Revival Essay


List of the important organizations, movements, events and individuals of Celtic regions

Table 1. Timeline: Interveners and Music Development

Organizations/Movements/Events Individuals (Description) Date of Establishment/Lifetime
Oral traditions development Unknown contributors 15thcentury
Eisteddfodan (festival) N/A 1700s
The Gwyneddigion Society Owen Jones “Owain Myfyr” 1777
Competition Highland Society of London 1781
Ceòl Mór revival
Incorporating the Scottish Gaelic traditions, the specified event signified the revival of the Scottish Highlands traditions.
Robert Brown
Brown studied the phenomenon of pibroch, the music that represented the Scottish culture
18thcentury
Piping competition John MacDonald 1806
Gorsedd (throne) of Bards N/A 1819
Welsh Music Revival Lady Llanover 1835–1853
The Gaelic League: Cork Pipers Club N/A 1898
The Gaelic League: Dublin Pipers Club N/A 1900
N/A Gorsedd of Bards 1917
The Irish Dancing Commission N/A; Munster style of dancing 1930
Radio Éireann Light Orchestra N/A 1940–1950
The Fleadh Cheoil Competition N/A 1951
Irish Jig The Fitzgerald Dancers 1999
Newark Metro Cup Highland Society 2004

Similarities between organizations for the preservation and revival of traditional music and dance in the various Celtic regions

Despite the fact that each of the organizations and contributors to the Welsh and the Irish music revival listed above had unique characteristics, there are a range of similarities between not only the organizations belonging to the same culture, but also among the promoters of the Welsh and the Irish music culture.

First and most obvious, each of the organizations and interveners mentioned above treated the corresponding musical culture with the respectful dignity and viewed it as a part of the national treasure that needs to be reborn.

Another characteristic feature of the organizations and interveners listed above concerns the premises, which the approach towards the reconstruction of the national music was based on. Particularly, in each case, an influential organization supported the promotion of a specific event and the revival of the corresponding musical style.

With only a few exceptions, the event featuring Gorsedd of Bards being the key one, the events mentioned above were supported by the corresponding organizations that encouraged people to participate and contributed to raising awareness regarding the event and its cultural significance.

The support from the government and the related authorities is, therefore, the characteristic feature that most of the events shared and that allowed for increasing awareness concerning the necessity to sustain the revival of the Welsh and the Irish cultures.

The process of intervention by an “official” organization during a period of revival

As it has been stressed above, in most cases, the presence of the corresponding authority during the musical events listed above created premises for enhancing the significance of the concert as a cultural and a historical one. Indeed, the presence of an authority created the stir in media and society, therefore, leading to the inevitable increase in awareness and, thus, the rise in people’s enthusiasm towards the revival of the Welsh and Irish culture.

However, the introduction of interveners could easily lead to the enhancement of censorship. As a result, a range of elements of the shows listed above were cut out of the official program and were never made public. More importantly, censorship altered the content of the shows and events, therefore, distorting the performance. The misrepresentation of the artists’ creations could have led to major misconceptions of the Irish and the Welsh music; however, in most cases, censorship was inevitable.

For instance, the famous performance of Celts in Dublin, which occurred under the aegis of the Celtic Congress, deserves to be mentioned as a graphic example of interveners affecting the representation of a musical style radically.

Particularly, the content that was viewed as dubious from the perspective of political correctness suffered major censorship and was deleted nearly entirely from the program: “He did not like the term PanCeltic, and would prefer to talk of a Celtic Conference and an ultimate Celtic Union or League” (Morgan, 2012, p. 4).

In addition, the intervention, which occurred prior the above-mentioned event, could also be defined as religion based, as some of the elements of the concert were incompatible with the religious principles that the society was guided by at the time:

He was ambitious in his ideas, having two Lords and an Honourable to preside at different meetings, issuing invitations to 300 people, including both Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, Members of Parliament, all the Welsh ministers of religion from Merseyside. (Morgan, 2012, p. 4)

The specified intervention can be considered a prime example of altering the concept of an event by the local authorities on the basis of specific laws and ethical principles. On the one hand, the above-mentioned action can be viewed as an abuse of power by local authorities and a misrepresentation of the Celtic culture. On the other hand, the intervention prevented a possible cultural and religious conflict.

Invention introducing “inauthentic” elements to traditional culture

While the intrusion of interveners can be viewed as a distortion of the event, one must take the ethical reasoning behind interventions in order to assess the effects thereof. The example of the Celtic Congress intervention might be viewed as a perfect case for addressing the dilemma in question. True, the intervention contributed to underrepresentation of the Celtic culture.

Moreover, by taking the specified part out of the event, the authorities altered the audience’s understanding of the implications behind the event and the messages that the performers were trying to convey.

On the other hand, the aforementioned implications might have stirred a major conflict among the public. More importantly, the social conflict could have led to the prohibition of further Welsh culture promotion. Thus, censorship has played a rather significant role in retaining positivity in relationships among people belonging to different ethnicities in the specified case.

Reference List

Morgan, E. P. (2012). Social history of Celtic music & dance. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Indigenous Celtic Music: Preservation and Revival." May 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/indigenous-celtic-music-preservation-and-revival/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Indigenous Celtic Music: Preservation and Revival'. 6 May.

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