Irish Music

Listening Question
For the listening question you will be asked questions on three excerpts. You should be familiar with Irish dances, instruments, sean nós singing, categories of Irish songs, features of Irish music, features of the peformance of Irish music and different types of ensembles.

Common mistakes include noting a feature of the music instead of the performance (or vice versa), listing features of Irish music or performance in general rather than features of the excerpt played.

How should you study for this question? By doing lots of listening questions. If you run out of questions you can: start again at the beginning and redo them (you won't remember all the answers), ask your teacher for more or play random recordings of Irish music on youtube and list all the features you can hear (type of dance/song, instruments/ensemble, features of the music and the performance). A good way to get to know the dances is to learn to play them on your instrument or to learn each dance.

Written Question
You must write a very short essay and have a choice of four questions. There are roughly twelve topics overall that come up in this section, you should learn five. Note that some topics overlap (e.g. harping tradition and collectors, ornamentation and sean nós singing, fusions and studying a group/composer).

The most common mistake made in this section is misreading the question, or not reading it carefully, and/or not fulfilling all the requirements of the question in the answer. Your response should only be, at the very most, one page long so get to the point! Make two or three points, two substantial points with references and examples, or three less substantial points with references and examples (but maybe not as detailed). If you're asked: Discuss the importance of collectors in Irish Music. Name two collectors and give examples of their contributions. No amount of detailed information on the importance of collectors and the life stories of, say, Edward Bunting and Francis O'Neill will get you any more than 6 marks if you haven't named their publications ('give examples of their contributions').


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There is a difference between the 'music' and the 'performance'.

One is what would be written on the page, the other is how the performer plays it in the moment

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