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Music, Emotion and Identity in Ulster Marching Bands

Flutes, Drums and Loyal Sons

Gordon Ramsey

Ulster’s marching bands form perhaps the most vibrant participatory folk music tradition in contemporary Europe, and are one of the most significant and visible elements of working-class loyalist culture in the divided society of Northern Ireland. Their significance springs largely from the central place they have assumed in the lives of their members.
This book presents an ethnography of three County Antrim flute bands from the very different genres of ‘part-music’, ‘melody’ and ‘blood and thunder’. The author explores the emotional rewards of communal music-making and the way that identities are formed through the acquisition of tastes, competences and skills within specific communal contexts, paying particular attention to the impact of class position. These issues are examined in the context of the competitions, concerts and street parades that are central to the social lives of thousands of band members and supporters in Northern Ireland.


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Contents - vii


Contents Acknowledgements ix Glossary of Abbreviations xi Foreword xiii Chapter 1 Becoming a Bandsman: Contexts, Purposes and Methodologies 1 Chapter 2 Music and Embodied Identities 37 Chapter 3 Traditional Roots: Parading in Ulster 69 Chapter 4 Playing the Field: Ballyclare Victoria Flute-Band and the World of the Flute-Band League 101 Chapter 5 Walking to the Field: Ballyclare Victoria Flute-Band, Sir George White Memorial Flute-Band and the World of the Street Parade 121 Chapter 6 Party Tunes: Flow, Boundary Creation and Boundary Transcendence at a Scottish Orange Parade 155 viii Chapter 7 Crackin’ Tunes: The ‘Musical’, the ‘Traditional’ and the ‘Authentic’ 185 Chapter 8 Conclusion 219 Appendix A Questionnaire Survey of SGWM and BLSOU 253 Appendix B Band Repertoires 263 Appendix C Fife and Flute Pitches, Keys and Fingering 285 Bibliography 291 Index 309

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