‘Against Christianity, learning and the spirit of nationality’ - Jazz and Irish Traditional Music
This illustrated seminar unpacks the hidden story behind Ireland’s dalliances with jazz and the unique sounds that were created between 1914-1939. Irish traditional music is widely recognised as a ‘magpie culture’, bringing together forms of music from different parts of the globe and arranging them in a coherent and structured manner. From Scottish reels to Eastern European polkas and English-language ballads, Irish musicians have for generations, received new musical forms with open ears and enthusiasm. However, the music which arrived in Ireland between the two world wars has largely been written out of history. As the jazz craze swept Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s traditional musicians did what they have always done and found ways to render its sounds and rhythms in the best way they knew how. This allowed a hybrid Irish jazz style to briefly flourish before it was denounced by the power brokers of the day and was finally swept away by the arrival of the showband era. This illustrated seminar unpacks the hidden story behind Ireland’s dalliances with jazz and the unique sounds that were created in this era.
Conor Caldwell is a fiddle player and lecturer in Irish Traditional Music from Belfast. His research explores various aspects of music in Ireland, including style, structure and form in traditional performance. Known for his energetic northern fiddle style, Conor’s music is informed by his exploration of both archival and contemporary sources. He has been based at Queen’s University Belfast since 2009.