What If?

I appeared on RTÉ Radio 1’s What If? programme last Sunday with Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. We were discussing ‘What if Ireland had lost its traditional music heritage?’ One of the pre-planned questions we didn’t get to discuss, because of time constraints, was, ‘What role does Irish traditional Continue reading


A very contemporary art form

Those who have studied the history of traditional music often enjoy pointing out that this music is not nearly as old as many presume. Retreat just a few hundred years and we would not even have some of the tune types – the hornpipe for example – never mind much of the repertoire that we perform today. (Similarly, the pub session only Continue reading

What is the reality of Irish musical life today?

Placing the entire seven years of JMI on the world wide web – and free to view – has been fascinating for myself as editor. There are many articles worth revisiting and I hope readers will take the time to wander through the over 500 articles so far. One particular phrase that leaped out at me appears in Frank Heneghan’s article on the MEND Continue reading

Music education services: achievable without a critical mass?

Recently, I sent a version of my editorial from the May-June 07 JMI into the Irish Times as a letter. It was published on April 24th (below), and a response came from Deirdre McCrea of Music Network on April 27th (also below).

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A Feel for the Terrain

That JMI has raised more questions than provided answers over the past three years goes without saying. Few will be surprised or bothered by this. But the act of questioning is valuable in itself, for it sketches out a map of the wire-fences and high walls in our society that decide the path for new ideas. After three years ofJMI, often publishing Continue reading

No Limits

JMI is now half way through its third year. You would imagine that things should be getting easier. I have sat down to write this editorial several times over the last two months, each time grounding to a halt after a couple of paragraphs. It seems I have become a victim of the exact subject I wanted to discuss: limits. Generally, when I Continue reading

No Brain Required

There is great satisfaction in producing an issue of JMI that contains reviews of both contemporary Irish music and sean-nós singing, if only because one does not observe this same sort of coupling often in Irish musical life. The division in understanding that exists between ‘classical’ and ‘traditional’ music in Ireland is a feature of our Continue reading

Noisy Little Country

This year, two young Irish composers, Jennifer Walshe and Donnacha Dennehy, both selected John Cage’s 4’ 33” (1952) to be performed as part of their ‘Composer’s Choice’ concerts at the National Concert Hall. To have Cage’s audacious four minutes and thirty-three seconds of ‘silence’ performed in an archetypal respectable venue such as Continue reading

Confidence Ill-defined

All musicians and singers are aware of the finely-tuned arrangement that can exist in one’s mind between self-belief and self-doubt. They know there are many different degrees and types of confidence, many factors in its generation, and many ways to disguise its absence.

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What We Won’t Tell the Visitors This Summer

Every now and then, if you are a traditional musician, you will get a call from a friend, a friend of a friend, or a relation, and they will tell you they have some people from abroad staying with them, and could you recommend a place where they could go and hear some Irish music? You picture the hosts that evening, who are normally only Continue reading