The Social Life of Tunes: Representing the Aesthetics of Reception
I report on two years of participant observation of traditional musicians in Dublin, Ireland. In Irish traditional music, players from all walks of life gather at pub sessions to play tunes together. Due to the ethos of traditional music, the representation of tunes is a constant aesthetic concern. Drawing on the aesthetics of reception, I show how arriving at the proper “text” of a tune poses unique challenges. Rather than simply reading notes on sheet music, traditional musicians must imaginatively read the creative text on a “virtual space” to create art. Making music involves a nuanced process of learning, knowing, and retaining a tune. The tune is not a static entity but one dynamically shaped by its social context and provenance. The social life of tunes suggests that technologies ought to support the practice of practicing seamlessly across the performance-oriented session and the solitary pursuit of skill, while allowing novices a way to conceptualize the historical flexibility of the tune. I will outline a new agenda of surveilling tradition to represent the aesthetics of reception. With the burgeoning interest in the collaborative work of tradition, this work provides new perspectives into the creative processes involved in representation.
KeywordsLiterary Criticism Literary Work Virtual Space Base Version Learner Session
I am grateful for Danny Diamond, Bryan Duggan, Brendan Knowlton, and Padraic Lavin’s invaluable assistance in data collection. Leslie S. Liu and Lisa Shields provided helpful feedback on my drafts.
- Ackerman, M. (2000). The intellectual challenge of CSCW: The gap between social requirements and technical feasibility. Human-Computer Interaction, 15(2/3), 181–203.Google Scholar
- Benford S., Tolmie P., Ahmed, A.Y., Crabtree, A. (2012). Supporting traditional music-making: Designing for situated discretion. In Proceedings of CSCW’12 (pp. 127–136). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
- Chalmers, M., & Galani, A. (2004) Seamful interweaving: Heterogeneity in the theory and design of interactive systems. In Proceedings of DIS’04 (pp. 243–252). New York: ACM.Google Scholar
- Fine, G. A. (1998). Morel tales. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Forsyth, M. C. (2011). Teaching “Trad”: A fiddling ethnomusicologist’s reflections on fiddle camp. Canadian Folk Music/Musique folklorique canadienne, 45(2).Google Scholar
- Fry, P. H. (2009, January 30). Configurative reading [http://oyc.yale.edu/transcript/454/engl-300]. ENGL 300: Introduction to theory of literature. Lecture conducted from New Haven, CT: Yale University.
- Grudin, J. (1988). Why groupware applications fail: Problems in the design of organizational interfaces (pp. 85–93). In Proceedings of CSCW’88. New York: ACM.Google Scholar
- Letondal, C., & Mackay W. E. (2007). The paperoles project: An analysis of paper use by music composers. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Collaborating over Paper and Digital, Documents (CoPADD’07).Google Scholar
- Mainwaring, S. D., Chang, M. F., & Anderson, K. (2004). Infrastructures and their discontents: Implications for ubicomp. In Proceedings of Ubicomp’04 (pp. 418–432). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
- O’Shea, H. (2008). The making of Irish traditional music. Cork: Cork University Press.Google Scholar
- Robinson, M., & Bannon, L. (1991). Questioning representations. In Proceedings of ECSCW’91 (pp. 219–233). Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
- Titon, J. T. (2001). Old time Kentucky fiddle tunes. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
- Veblen, K. K. (1996). Truth, perceptions, and cultural constructs in ethnographic research: Music teaching and learning in Ireland. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 129, 37–52.Google Scholar