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GEARÓID Ó HALLMHURÁIN - A Short History Of Irish Traditional Music

GEARÓID Ó HALLMHURÁIN - A Short History Of Irish Traditional Music
O'Brien Press ISBN: 9781847178732

This is not a new book, although you will struggle to find the small acknowledgement that it was “originally published as A Pocket History Of Irish Traditional Musicin 1998. It has presumably been re-badged by its new publisher to chime with the popular Short History Of... series by Oxford University Press.

This is a book well worth republishing and re-reading, and it is also now available as an e-book.  It benefits from the double whammy of having an author who really knows his stuff but who can also write in an interesting an entertaining style - no mean feat considering the amount of factual material covered.  It deals not just with the music and song, but its place in Irish society and history from the Middle Ages to the present day, allowing little ‘stop offs’ for particularly interesting characters, tunes or events, which really help to illuminate the whole.  As is usual, any influence from (or on) English music is ignored unless the Irish can be shown to be performing unadulterated Irish material on English soil, although the Irish influence in Quebec, USA etc is well covered.  It has a workable index and a small updated biography (this included Terry Moylan's wonderful The Indignant Muse from 2016, but ignores Reg Hall's majestic Irish Music In London of the same date). But there are enough hares for readers to chase in search of further reading and listening.  The page on session etiquette is amusing but necessary! This book does what it says on the tin - really well.  An excellent volume and thoroughly recommended.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.