Creative Arts Research Centre >> Theme 4 :Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Theme 4 :Musicology and Ethnomusicology

The study of music is fundamental to our academic mission at DkIT and is an integral component of our programmes in the School of Informatics and Creative Arts. Musicology and Ethnomusicology are embedded in our undergraduate programmes, popular areas for postgraduate research, and inclusive of much of the ongoing research and publications by staff. Research in this area is historical, aesthetic and empirical. It involves critical interpretation and analysis of all genres of music in their wider cultural, political, sociological and artistic contexts. It covers classical musicology and ethnomusicology as discrete disciplines while expanding consideration of these into the area of significant overlap and fallout within contemporary music. With the developing revision of community, genre-specific, sub-cultural, regional and national identities in the world, musics have become the ultimate definers of preference and place. Research in this area is musicologically rigorous, and investigates forms of music expression, repertoire and cultural values in the contexts of revival, popularisation and globalisation.

Musicology encompasses a comprehensive range of disciplines including music theory and analysis, critical editing and the historical and social study of music. It encourages students to investigate research methods, explore critical, analytical and creative approaches to music research, develop independent thought and engage in critical thinking. The study of musicology introduces students to the fundamental principles of research in music and allows them to develop a variety of skills and approaches that they can apply to a range of research topics.

Researchers within the centre are also eagerly exploring new avenues and directions in musicology including physiological indicators of emotion as interaction channels with artistic applications. Engaging with music production and its associated technologies, the musicology of record production and the relationship between music and emotional state this project explores the use of sensors as an interaction channel with creative applications, principally through the development of installations and interactive audio-visual works. This area pioneers new avenues for musicological enquiry that integrates new technologies and modes of analysis.

At a time when concepts of identity are changing rapidly and their relationship to local community, concepts of nationhood and religion are in flux, ethnomusicological study engages with and informs our understanding of societal change and the role of cultural pursuits in the lives of all people regardless of age, gender, social class, ethnic background or nationality. The ethnomusicological study of folk and traditional musics is arguably the most contemporary of music research, engaging with cultural aspects of 'post-Tiger Ireland' in a wider European and global context. Recent work from the Centre for Research in Music at DkIT includes a book on the Irish harp that deals with the politics of identity and gender roles in Irish society and a study on music in post-boom contexts for Irish traditional music and its relationship with socio-economic patterns and opportunities. Forthcoming research engages with issues of the (re)presentation of Irishness through music, song and dance, as well as the relationship between music and tourism, a key element in the rehabilitation of the Irish economy, and the role of women in music.

Ethnomusicological research at DkIT has often focused on the study of Irish traditional music but with an increasingly international perspective, enhanced through the development of global networks of academics. To date, some research undertaken by researchers at DkIT has focused on the music and poetry connected to the Oriel region. Recent concerts by the DkIT Ceol Oirghialla Traditional Music Ensemble informed by this research have celebrated the unique cultural heritage of Oriel, including Ó Riada sa Gaeity, Radharc ó na Sléibhte, Imirce an Cheoil, Ómós do Josephine Keegan and Ceolta Cruit. Further research has focused on the wider contexts for Irish traditional music in Ireland and internationally, including cross-cultural comparison and incorporating a variety of ethnomusicological perspectives. A number of research projects are currently being undertaken that explore a diverse range of areas in Irish traditional music, from the study of 19th century manuscripts, the role of women in Irish traditional music and the significance of festivals in Irish traditional music today. 

Recognising that social justice underpins applied musicology, researchers in the centre are increasingly engaged in research in Applied Musicology that has benefits beyond the Institute. Community Music activities and related research are based on the premise that everyone has the right and ability to make and create musics. It is a vital and dynamic force that provides opportunities for participation and education in a wide range of musics and musical experiences and acts as a counterbalance and/or complement to formal music institutions and commercial music concerns. Community Music also provides opportunities to construct artistic and culture-specific personal and communal expressions of artistic, social, political, and cultural concerns. It encourages and empowers participants to extend and develop music in the community. Applied Ethnomusicolgy and Community Music activities create job opportunities in the cultural sectors, and enhance the quality of life for communities. Research in community music contributes to inclusivity and the societal vision of the Institute by fostering sustainable arts practices whilst encouraging entrepreneurship in graduates. In all these ways Community Music activities can complement, interface with, and extend formal music education structures.

Staff are currently engaged in a range of musicological and ethnomusicological research projects, present regularly at national and international conferences and have published widely. There are very close connections between the research undertaken by staff and their undergraduate teaching and postgraduate supervision.