Field recording Irish traditional music

written by Tom Miles on August 18, 2015 in Behind the scenes and Europeana Music with no comments

Today we have a guest post by Maeve Gebruers, Printed Materials Officer at Irish Traditional Music Archive. It was first published on Europeana Sounds blog on August 12, 2015.

As well as collecting the contemporary and historic materials of Irish traditional music published by others, the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) has, for the past twenty-three years, operated an annual programme of audio and video field and studio recording of singers, musicians and dancers. ITMA is now delighted to be part of the Europeana Sounds project where these recordings can be shared with a wider audience throughout the continent of Europe and further afield.

Field recording has taken place across the island of Ireland, encompassing the various styles & genres of Irish traditional instrumental music, song & dance. It makes audio and video recordings simultaneously using professional HD video cameras; in its earliest years, for reasons of cost, it made audio recordings only.

Brian Doyle, ITMA Digitisation Officer, recording at Trinity College Dublin, 2013Brian Doyle, ITMA Digitisation Officer, recording at Trinity College Dublin, 2013 CC BY-SA

This programme has recorded some 2,000 performers since 1992, and in addition has recorded lectures, public recitals and concerts, and other traditional music events. The rights to the recordings remain otherwise with the performers. These are available within ITMA for public listening and viewing and a selection is also available in our online collections, such as the two featured in this Europeana Sounds blog.

First ITMA Field Recordings, 1992–93

During the period March 1992 to the end of 1993, twenty-seven recording sessions were carried out, in Clare, Galway, Tipperary and Donegal.

Here is a selection of these early ITMA field recordings of local performers made by Jackie Small in Cos Clare and Galway featuring music, song and oral history, published on Europeana.

Danny Diamond, ITMA Field Recording Officer, prepares equipment the Willie Clancy Summer SchoolDanny Diamond, ITMA Field Recording Officer, prepares equipment the Willie Clancy Summer School CC BY-SA

Willie Clancy Summer School

ITMA records at many festivals and summer schools around Ireland, the Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare being just one of these. Since its foundation in 1987, ITMA has had a fruitful recording association with this highly regarded summer school and its musicians. Here is a very popular example of one of these recordings made by ITMA in 2008.

Brush dance  Willie Clancy Summer School, 7 July 2005

ITMA staff recording at the Willie Clancy Summer School, July 2004ITMA staff recording at the Willie Clancy Summer School, July 2004 CC BY-SA

More ITMA field recording videos up on Europeana.