Field Work Study: Phase 1 – Ireland

I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. There are a few reasons for this, 1. I have red hair and typically wonder if I’m from that area. I’ve always thought, I wonder if I were to go to Ireland if I would feel at home? 2. I fell in love with the movie “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” (Disney, 1959). Thinking about which country in the world I would love to go to and explore it from an ethnomusicologist’s perspective, I couldn’t get the song “Pretty Irish Girl” from the film out of my head.

There is a very deep and rich culture within the Irish culture to explore, I haven’t decided weather I want to go classic and explore traditional Irish music or if I want to go with the goal of traveling to various pubs getting a glimps at drinking songs and folk singing. This first phase is all about looking at a few different key elements that Irelands history has to offer in order to make my visit there more focused and rewarding. I also would like to stay there for an extended amount of time, I’m thinking about spending 6 months in this beautiful country to not only explore music, but also explore castles.

“Irish music is one of the world’s most developed melodic traditions. The repertory is vast, though numerous individual tunes may be variants of other tunes. Sometimes the same tune is known by different names depending on the region, and sometimes tunes with the same name are musically distinct. Those that are not lyric songs with texts are likely to be one of the several types of dances tunes found in Ireland: namely, the jig (quick 6/8 or 12/8 time), the reel (quick 2/4), the hornpipe (6/8 or 12/8 time), and the polka (quick 2/4 time). Some tunes fall into the major–minor tonality system, but there is a tendency for them to be structurally pentatonic (i.e., to employ a five-tone scale) with the possibility of additional passing notes.” (Miller, Shahriari, pg. 310)


Uillean Pipes

“Disassembled for storage, the uilleann pipes consist of the bag, the bellows and strap, a chanter pipe, three drone pipes, and—in full sets—an additional three pipes fitted with a series of large metal keys. These additional pipes, called “regulators,” allow the player to produce the chords that are the uilleann pipes’ most distinctive feature.” (Miller, Shahriari pg. 310)


“A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. More distantly related, but still in the same family, are the harmonium and American reed organ (a/k/a pump organ or parlor, It has a bellows, and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons, which travel perpendicularly to the bellows.” (Wikipedia)


“One of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire, the fiddle (or violin – there is no physical difference) is played differently in widely varying regional styles.[3] It uses the standard GDAE tuning.” (Wikipedia)

These are just a few different things that I’m thinking about to explore in Ireland. I will be adding more to this post as I get a clearer direction with my Field Work Proposal.


Miller, Terry E., and Andrew C. . Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.