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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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Acknowledgements -ix


Acknowledgements I would like to thank all those people whose help has been essential in pro- ducing this piece of work. Funding for my doctoral research was provided by the Department for Education and Learning, for which I am grateful. My PhD supervisor, Dr. Fiona Magowan was been a constant source of support, guidance and constructive criticism during the research on which this book was founded. Dr. Suzel Reily has supported and encour- aged me from the beginning of my academic career and provided a fresh pair of eyes which were invaluable during the final stages of writing. Dr. Marina Roseman has given support, encouragement and helpful guidance throughout. Dr. Hae-kyung Um, formerly of Queen’s University, now at the University of Liverpool, played a pivotal role in my development in both the practical and theoretical aspects of ethnomusicology, and her guidance made navigating the more abstruse areas of ethnomusicological theory a pleasure rather than a struggle. Christabel Scaife at Peter Lang has been a great help throughout the publishing process. Jackie Witherow, Jaime Rollins-McColgan and Ray Casserly, all ethnomusicologists carrying out research in related areas, have been friends and sources of both intellectual and musical stimulation. I would like to thank Alvin Mullan for introducing me to the world of the f lute-band, Billy Rutherford of the Ravenhill Temperance Flute-Band for teaching me to play the f lute, something which has now become one of the greatest pleasures of my life, and Irwin Lyttle of Ballyclare Victoria Flute-Band for inviting...

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