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Thursday, March 5, 2015
An Introduction to Manx Music and its Celtic Style at the House of Manannan
Dr Chloe Woolley
Chloë Woolley, Culture Vannin's Manx Music Development Officer, assisted by
members of Bree, (the Manx traditional music and dance youth movement), recently
held an afternoon lecture at the House of Manannan in Peel which focused on an
introduction to Manx music and its Celtic style.
set the scene by explaining how the term Celtic had influenced modern-day
thinking in relation to music, before expanding upon how Manx traditional music
fits into a wider Celtic genre. This allowed exploration of the oral tradition,
early manuscript collections of the 1890s, the revival of interest in the
subject during the twentieth century and some of the personalities who shaped
the Manx music scene.She also assessed
the musical repertoire of contemporary musicians in the traditional genre and
the important socio-cultural links sustained by the Celtic music community.
talk traced a number of inspirational collectors, but also opened up the
background to their collecting, revealing how the use of language, movement of
people from a rural to an urban setting, poverty and emigration influenced the
direction of the Island's music. However, its musical heritage was also shaped
by the rise in popularity of music hall songs, printed sheet music and the
wide-scale influence of Methodism by the eighteenth century Anglican evangelist
the assertion of British patriotism during the late nineteenth century stimulated
an awareness of ethnic and national status in all of the Celtic countries.
Inspired, in part, by fellow Celtic nationalism and the national consciousness
emerging throughout Europe, antiquarians, scholars and collectors on the Isle
of Man renewed their interest in local culture and took steps towards the
reconstruction of a Manx identity; albeit finely balanced between Britishness
and Celticism, so as not to compromise the Island's status of 'home rule'.
popularity of English culture became overwhelming, ultimately diluting the Manx
repertoire, which stimulated collectors to track down and record what could be
salvaged of local music from the indigenous population
far-sighted individuals collected songs, tunes and ballads from a cross-section
of the community, in an attempt to reconstruct and embrace a Manx history which
concentrated strongly on the Island's Celtic links. Chloë and the Bree students
ably demonstrated some of the collected songs and melodies.
also explained how the vibrant Manx music revival of the 1970s coincided with a
period of social unrest, growth in nationalist politics, the Manx Gaelic
language revival and a growing fashion for regional folk music; with its native
tongue viewed as a key component of Manx identity.
talk concluded with an expansive view of how the Manx music scene has grown
since the 1970s and firmly established itself both within the Island itself and
beyond these shores - becoming an integral part of the wider Celtic community.