Echoes of the Banshee: the changing voice of Irish women
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This paper will examine the suppression and 'de-ritualisation' of the pagan practice of Irish keening (caoineadh) or ritual lamentation and its re-emergence in new musical contexts, based on the importance of keening as part of the role performance of Irish women and a central element of their culture. Key points to be addressed will include an examination of the musical and paramusical characteristics of keening; its social and religious relevance within its original pagan context; the social, political and religious circumstances surrounding its suppression and the musical and cultural contexts in which keening is now expressed. These include: current traditional folk song which encompasses laments from the Diaspora, songs of lost love, rebellion, comic keening; s顮-nos songs featuring Marian laments; popular music and ritual keening as it manifests in the present day. The musical examples chosen for discussion will be analysed using a cross-disciplinary methodology which draws on aspects of ethnomusicology, gender studies and ritual studies. This paper will show that the suppression of women's keening led to the loss of its ritual function. However, a musical analysis of examples from popular music will show that, because of the importance of the practice in the Irish female psyche, keening has found its expression in new contexts as a 'de-ritualised' musical art form, where subjects normally considered taboo can be examined without censure.
Music on the Edge: Selected Papers from the 2007 IASPM Australia/New Zealand Conference
Copyright remains with the author 2008. The attached file is posted here with permission of the copyright owner for your personal use only. No further distribution permitted. For information about this conference please refer to the publisher's website or contact the author.
Musicology and Ethnomusicology