Lynne Finnerty

April 27, 2005

Research Methods – Kathleen DeWalt

Research Paper

LF : How does Traditional Music fit into your idea of the Irish identity here?

Robert : Oh, it's a fundamental part of it of course. Absolutely yeah, I don't think you can…

LF : Can you separate the two?

Robert : Personally, I can't. Obviously some people can. Some people can live there lives without ever thinking about Irish music. I just couldn't. I think it's a fundamental and innate part of our existence, absolutely. I don't think we would have a fully complete identity of ourselves without Irish music… I think it captures a part of our personality that isn't explored in any other way.

            People can appropriate any number of ideas, things, and places with identity. As one of my key musician informants explains in the quote above, music is something closely linked to an Irish identity. He describes it as a key component in expressing part of what being Irish is.

The issue Robert speaks of is also the theme of this paper. Traditional Irish Music, “Trad” as it is commonly termed, is an extension of the Pittsburgh Irish Community. The research questions that I generated circle around the segment of the Pittsburgh Irish community that attends live Trad shows. What role does this music play in defining what people identify as being Irish? What kind of audience does Trad attract, mostly Irish descendents or other persons? Why is it so appealing to its audience? Pittsburgh has a strong Irish community. This research topic explores Trad as an extension of the imagined community of Irish within Pittsburgh . Studying the music's significance to the audience gives more clarification of what exactly an Irish identity entails.

            Aside from my personal interest in this research, this is also a subject that could use further exploration in understanding traditional music's connection with its descendents. Within ethnomusicology there are many articles discussing Trad in Ireland and what it's meaning has been in that country. However, Trad has also become popular in areas where Irish migrated, such as Pittsburgh . Studying how and why people have identified with this music outside of Ireland may show insight into what has become appropriated with being Irish.

            I anticipated several relationships between interest in Trad and the audiences. I believed that the audiences would be comprised of an older crowd that was weary of the younger “yuppie” crowds found at other bars, more interested in connecting with their heritage, and therefore of Irish descent. I also expected that the music performances would be specifically traditional. The research below suggests a more multifaceted relationship between these issues.


            This research uses the group level for its unit of analysis. It looks at the music as an extension of a larger group identity. More specifically, the research deals with only a segment of the Pittsburgh Irish community – the patrons and musicians that come to three Irish pubs in the area. Studying only this group, at three locations, and at specific times presents numerous limitations. This applies especially to my ability to generalize my findings to the larger community.

            Participant observation was the principal method for gaining data. It was conducted over three months at three local pubs (hereafter referred to as Pub A, B, and C) which play Trad. The reason for choosing these venues is because pubs are generally the place where this music is regularly played, and it is a common meeting place for people. The pub as a cultural identifier is also discussed in the data.

            Throughout the course of this research a jot notebook, fieldnotes, and a separate list of metanotes were maintained. The composite codebook was categorized in four broad categories (Interviews, Pubs, Audience, and Musicians) and subdivided from there.

            The initial sampling frame would have included patrons, musicians, and bar owners. Also, it should have included random sampling of venues and patrons. However, due to time constraints and transportation problems the only informants and respondents used were patrons and musicians. People that participated in the interviews were always informed of the nature of this research and are given confidentiality in this paper. Unstructured interviews were conducted with both groups. Five musicians were gracious enough to do semi-structured taped interviews for which there is an interview guide (Appendix A.) Lastly, a questionnaire (Appendix B) was distributed to audience members (these patrons actually included several musicians who were in the audience that night.) Ideally, the questionnaire would have been given to two randomly chosen audiences, but in reality there was only time to gather the information from one group. Again this presents constraints on the degree to which the data can be generalized.

            Several variables were operationalized in the questionnaire (Appendix B): age, ethnicity, sense of Irish identity, audience participation, and personality assessment. Since identity is a topic this research centers on, the questionnaire broached the topic in two ways. First, the form gets a sense of the group affiliation of the respondent. Second, questions are asked regarded the respondents lineage and self-perception of identity.

            Overall, the type of methods employed gained a more dynamic view of the information by combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The sampling was not done using a random table as time would not allow this. However, the natural progression of when information was gathered seemed almost haphazard enough to be random. More information would undoubtedly add to the strength of this paper. Given the limitations, this data presents findings that would provide a solid foundation for continued research.

            Grounded theory analysis is employed throughout the data and presents certain interconnecting themes …..


            There are three broad categories of data distribution: the musicians and their community, the music itself, and the audience and their community. While each category overlaps and is dependent on the others, there are significant aspects to each of them. This information will be introduced with a section about the venues as they create the setting for the data collection.


            The three Pubs are within the Pittsburgh region. They are all well known, but Pub's A and C have a much longer history than Pub B. One thing all three have in common is the décor inside. All have TV's and Irish flags displayed. Irish memorabilia covers the hard wood walls. Pub A has sports jerseys from different counties of Ireland , pictures of Ireland , and Gaelic phrases all over the walls and ceiling. Two of my musician informants, Seamus and Robert, regularly play at Pub A. Both are solo acts. Pub A has a long legacy of showcasing Irish musicians, as Seamus stated,

I've been here at Pub A for over eighteen years. Since Joe opened it up.   Bob and I started here around the same time. We've outlasted all the owners, bartenders, everybody who has been here. But this is a great spot. It's the kind of place a lot of Irish people come into and feel very at home.

Declan, who is the lead singer of Band Q, has a very special connection with Pub A,

Actually, this is the very first pub I was able to sing a song. There was this guy named Bob … Bob was sitting up here. I was here with my brother and we were singing songs in the background really loud. And we introduced ourselves and he says, ‘Would you like to play a song?' And I remember being a kid here in Pub A … my uncle used to take me here. And I thought to myself, I would dream of an opportunity in my entire life if I could go up and play just one song at a pub. And that night, Bob let me play his guitar and I sang a song. And here I am seven years later with a band …

While Pub A has such a large history for Irish musicians it is ironically a very small place. It might hold about sixty people comfortably. Because of the size dimensions and the amount of memorabilia hanging everywhere it creates a very intimate setting for a performance. The majority of this research took place in this pub.

            Pub B is the most recent of the three venues, and it is similar in size to Pub C. Pub B is large enough to hold two bars, a stage, and seating for about a hundred people. Again, Irish paraphernalia adorns the walls. A large mirror with “Guinness” imprinted on it stands beside the stage. Not as many acts frequent this pub in comparison to the other two. The research from this pub is minimal and comes from seeing Band Q perform there.

            Any conversation that mentions Irish pubs in Pittsburgh always mentions Pub C. It may be one of the best known pubs in this area. Along with having live Irish music (Band X regularly plays here) this pub also acts as a central meeting point for many other Irish associations (such as Gaelic Athletic Association.) Pub C also passes along information on Irish events and activities happening. Irish road signs, the Guinness slogan signs (i.e. “My Goodness My Guinness” signs), sports trophies, and much other Irish memorabilia are hung throughout the pub.


Throughout this research process five musicians were asked to respond to a semi-structured interview (Appendix A.) Two of the musicians, Seamus and Robert, are solo performers. Seamus is approximately fifty years old and Robert is just a little younger. Robert is actually from Ireland (he migrated here in the mid-1980's.) In the late sixties there was a revival of traditional folk music in Ireland and that's where Robert became interested in playing. He plays locally and at one of the venues in a neighboring county. Seamus plays in the same locations. Seamus estimated he has been playing about forty years. After explaining that he started playing rock n' roll he described what pushed him into performing Irish music,

I was working at emigration service. And uh, Tom O'Donahugh was bringing the Wolftones to Pittsburgh for the first time. And in order to get an artist visa they had to prove they were known as artists or musicians in their own country. So, this group they submitted about five LP's, and of course they, they couldn't fold those up and put them in a file cabinet. So when they were done with them and they accepted them as proven I got ‘em. So I took ‘em home and I started listening to them, and I said, ‘aw yeah. I can do this. This is good stuff.' So I started learning it and working it into my regular act. And the more Irish I worked in, the more people liked it, and I started working places like this [Pub A] that're strictly Irish. I mean you can sing something else once in a while, but basically they want Irish music here. And that's what I give them.

Seamus presents the idea he found something musically attractive about Trad, but here he explains that there was a practical reason for his choice also,

LF : Can you tell me how you became interested in playing traditional music?

Seamus : Uh, there was money in it. (pause) I know that sounds shallow, but as a musician no matter how much I liked the music or how passionate I was about it, if there wasn't money in it I wouldn't be able to do it. So I'm able to do it because there's money in it. I got interested in it because it is my national origin. I'm a third generation Irish.

Along with the financial reason for playing he also links the music to having an ancestral connection with him. Having an Irish heritage is something that all of my musician informants spoke of as playing a major role in their entry into Trad. This was indeed the case for Declan, Daniel, and Sean. Declan is the lead singer of Band Q. They are a group that represents a different version of Trad which will be discussed later. He is in his mid-30's and is also a third generation Irish descendent. For him this music is something deeply ingrained in his family roots,

Declan : ah, when I was a wee lad, when I was a kid my family would go around, go to this lake. And we had all these cabins, and at night time - we had a big family I had like sixteen people in my immediate family - and we sit around the fire late at night and sing Irish songs. So when I was a little kid I just picked up these tunes and uh, my uncle was a huge influence on me. He was the center of attention and all I wanted to do was be like him. So I just fell in love with the spirit of what it made the people around him feel like. I just fell in love with it. It became a part of me.

LF : So when did you start playing?

Declan : Well, I started, I started learning Irish music probably when I was about six.

As the quote earlier in this paper shows Declan didn't actually begin to play for other people until much later when he visited Pub A. Mainly he and Band Q play locally, but he hinted they are expanding their venues farther along the east coast.

            By far Daniel and Sean have played in the widest range of venues. Both are members of Band X which has been together over thirty years and has toured Ireland as well as the US east coast. They began playing together before the band existed, and both were raised from childhood with Trad in the home. As Sean stated, “we only had Irish records in my house.” His parents emigrated here from Ireland , and Daniel is also one-hundred percent Irish.

            As the informants have suggested, the gender of Trad musicians in Pittsburgh is overwhelmingly male. In the event schedule for Pub's A and C (Pub B was not available) there are fifteen separate acts scheduled for the months of March and April. Nine of them are solo acts and six are bands. None of the solo acts are female and to the best of my knowledge only two women are in a band. Band Q consists of three men and two women. Aside from those two, there are no females scheduled to perform. Also, my patron informants consistently referred me to musicians that would be knowledgeable for my research. Every one of their suggestions was a male performer.

            Of the fifteen acts on the event schedules only eleven of those acts play locally on a regular basis. This information was gained through interviews and the performers biographies online. There are approximately twenty-six musicians that create those eleven acts (six solo, five bands.) When I asked the musicians how many Trad acts there are in this area the answers varied. Seamus estimated there were five solo performers and four bands. Declan thought there are probably thirty musicians right now. Other informants were vague on a set number; however, they spoke of a changed amount of performers over the years. Robert spoke of a loss of relations among the musicians community,

It was probably close knit when there was fewer bands. You know, um, in fact maybe 10 or 15 years ago there was fewer and we all knew one another better. But in more recent years with the rise of Band Q and Band R different people are brought in. So, but yeah I think most people would know one another or know of one another if we didn't know each other personally.

            Declan, as a member of Band Q, had a slightly different view of the relationship between performers, “Friendly rivalry, some are closer than others … at least with our band, we always try to have a musical respect for the other guys who are trying to do what we're doing.”

            The musicians appear to have more than respect for each other – it was more of a genuine appreciation for one another. For instance, there was at least two occasions at Pub A when Seamus would invite other acts to perform during his set. Declan has played several times when Seamus was there; even at one point he did an impromptu set with part of his band. From the observational standpoint there appears to be a supportive interconnectedness of the Trad community. Also, there is something to be said of the fluid relationship between audience and musician. This is something we see when musicians like Seamus share their spotlight.

            Gauging the quality of musicianship is beyond the scope of this data. However it is pertinent that Seamus reflects so warmly on his community when he stated,

We are blessed in Pittsburgh with some brilliant musicians… we are blessed, and it has always been that way… most other cities in this country don't have the quantity or the quality of Irish musicians that we have here in this city. Some of them were born in Ireland , some of them were second, third, fourth generation, but it's all traditional, uh, musical balanced.

All of the musicians could not help but sing the praises of their peers. As Robert stated, “There's a lot of talent here actually.” Even if this information can not draw any solid conclusions it can support the idea that the musicians have a great appreciation for one another.

            When each informant was reflecting on their peers they consistently began to explain their indigenous classification scheme of different types of Trad. Before detailing the categorization of Trad, it is useful to have an overview of the types of instruments being used and what their history in Trad has been.


            The number of instruments a musician used was found through the interviews and participant observation. Table 1 shows the diversity of instruments among the musician informants.

            Table 1.   Instruments the Musicians Play


Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica


Acoustic Guitar




Acoustic Guitar, Tin Whistle, Low D Tin Whistle, Bod hr án , and Harmonica

Band Q

Fiddle, Electric Guitar, Conga Drums, Bass, Didgeridoo (along with all of Declans)




Acoustic Guitar, Accordion


Acoustic Guitar, Tin Whislte, Uillean Pipes, Bod hr án , along with others

Band X

Bass, Drum set, Electric Guitar (along with Sean and Daniels)

Obviously there is a great variety of sounds being utilized in Trad performances. Clearly Band Q incorporates instruments that are of completely different origin. Most of the instruments are normally found in Trad shows. In his article “ The Social Context of Irish Folk Instruments,” Johnston discusses the style of music that is traditionally played as a reel or jig and the type of instruments associated with it. A reel has a faster pace than a folk song and is entirely instrumental. This type of music was usually performed at a c éilí . A c éilí is a general term that refers to a normally spontaneous gathering of friends and sometimes musicians. The instruments Johnston identifies as traditional or derived from traditional instruments are: tin whistle, Irish harp, uillean pipes, melodeon, concertina, accordion, and bodhr án . ( Johnston 35 – 59) While the staple instrument for Trad musicians in Pittsburgh is the acoustic guitar there is a great deal of traditional instruments being taken advantage of.

            Furthermore, Band Q has combined other influences to create a performance of “traditional ballads … with a little rockier of a beat,” as Seamus put it. The informants categorized Band Q in a periphery third classification of Trad as a Rock–Trad mixture. There were two main types of Traditional Irish Music that all five informants identified. The first is an entirely instrumental reel or jig, and the second is a vocal piece.

Robert : You see there's two brands of Irish music. There's the folk music which is what I do which is ballads. Really not what I grew up thinking of as traditional music. It was more like ballads and folk songs. Traditional music to me is instrument. Instrument only, dance music…

The first purely traditional music has also been called “session music” when it refers to something played at céilí . Also the second type of Trad has been called “balladeer music” since most of the tunes are ballads.

            Along with identifying types of Trad, informants have also distinguished two groups of audience members that come to hear live shows. The composition of audience members at these shows will be laid out in the following section.


            There was a consensus from the musicians that the number of people they attract depends on the venue in which they play. Most stated the holding capacity of a venue was the number they could have in an audience. However, Robert brought up the idea that certain performers are more entertainers and have a following,

Robert : I think, it's just people come for some nice music. I don't have a bigger following I might add. Some people like my stuff, some people don't. Um, I don't draw a crowd… There's some people, and this tends to be with the bigger bands like Band R and Band Q they get a following. They have a persona, a party like atmosphere that they generate. So they get a following.

LF : So would you say that solo acts get a different audience?

Robert : Some do. Some are better um, more entertainers than ballad singers. I'm a ballad singer more than an entertainer.

Declan's response in his interview reflects this theory that they do have a larger fan base,

Declan : They [the crowds] just keep gettin bigger. It's, uh, I'd like to say it's like a virus. So we're spreading. But, I'd like to say that Wild Geese shows are like Yanni. They're contagious

Lf : (in amusement) Are like Yanni?

Declan : They're contagious! People come see a show, and they feel like they have to come back. And they bring their friends and they bring their family. There are people that come from Ohio , West Virginia , Penn State , and the crowds just keep getting bigger.”

During participant observation Band Q definitely seemed to entertain a much larger crowd. The days the information was gathered for Band Q were right around Saint Patrick's Day at Pub B. That time of year probably added to the concert like atmosphere. The closer to the stage one went the rowdier the crowd became.

            In contrast to this party persona Seamus explained that some people had a political agenda when attending shows,

Seamus : The crowd here has changed somewhat over the years. But if you look around on the walls and you see things like twenty-six plus six equals one...Twenty-six counties in the republic of Ireland , there are six counties in the north, and together they make one.

LF : I see.

Seamus : Yeah, that's what it was all about here for a while. This used to be a very republican bar, very Irish republican bar. They appreciated rebel songs. You'd see some people stand during some songs, fist in the air.

LF : Very proud?

Seamus : Yes, yes. Today this crowd is not so in tune with that…they some of them, enough of them understand it that an average number of the crowd appreciates the music, and usually end up explaining it to the rest of the crowd.”

Within this quote Seamus touches on the idea that much of this music is tied to the political –historical background of Ireland . This is something noted in the literature and as well it's very palpable during observation. Often times the musician will hit a note that unfolds the meanings and emotions of the lyrics. One can hear an ache for a place or person. The songs could be about a political movement, the physical land of Ireland , or a person, but it all transforms itself into whatever phantom that's pulling at you. Indeed Johnston noted this mysterious element of music to put oneself in another land,

“The traditional music of a people possesses remarkable capacity for evoking patriotic feelings and instilling nationalistic loyalty … Nineteenth century Irish immigrants in America used Irish instrumental music, dance, and song to unify Irish enclaves… Performances brought back nostalgic memories of idyllic villages nestled in the hills of old Ireland , of long-abandoned farms and homes, of relatives and friends not seen for decades. But most of all it came to symbolize Irish ethnic identity and national heritage.” ( Johnston 39)

            This sense of history that Trad brings to its audience is also mentioned by patrons themselves. Ivy is a sixty year old avid fan of Band X. Apparently she has been coming to see their performances for a long time. Ivy's friend called herself an amateur fan in comparison to Ivy because she has only been listening to Band X for seven years. Ivy identified trends among the audience. She emphasized a schism of two groups. Her group is “there for the stories.” She explained these stories as a way of knowing her ancestry since the songs explain the history and folklore from her heritage. She felt a strong connection to the lyrics and the melody's. Her group she categorized as an age group also, the “older crowd.” The second group Ivy called the “college crowd.” They are identified as younger kids who mainly come to drink. Robert also talked about a similar audience dichotomy,

Robert : I've done performances for private party's and stuff like that and they tend to be, kind of parties would tend to be older people. They tend to have a different attention to the kind of stuff you're doing and they tend to get more of a kick out of it cause they don't have it that much. Younger people tend to come out and drink in bars get to hear this stuff a lot more. So for them it's background music whether they're have a conversation with their friends.

LF : What do you mean when you say the older people get a kick out of it?

Robert : Um, some of the older generation weren't around for the folk revival in Ireland . So a lot of songs I do are new to them. But they're tremendously interesting because they're Irish, and they're songs they don't get to hear because they don't hang around in bars that much. So they get a great kick out of that, and of course they also like to hear ‘when Irish eyes are smiling' and ‘danny boy' and all that. Sort of, they want to hear the old time stuff which I don't do that often. So, that's the big difference between the two types of audience.

Ivy spoke of her group of audience members as attending for the camaraderie of being together. Significantly she mentioned, “being able to find an Irish community no matter where you are.” The way she spoke about it was that one might not know the people in the audience well, but just by being in the venue the audience forms something more cohesive than just an audience. Declan echoed this theme,

What's interesting is that even if you don't know the people in the audience, like people don't know each other in the audience, for some reason they feel like there is some kind of bond. They introduce themselves at the shows, and then they get on our forum on our website and they become friends.

            Even if the audiences are bonding, the question is still unanswered: who comprises these audiences? The musicians and fieldnotes afford some answers, but the questionnaires provide a slightly different view.

            Overwhelmingly the musicians claimed that the audiences were extremely varied. As Robert stated there was a slight schism in the crowds, but overall the musicians feel similar to Declan,

It's interesting we were doing a show and there were some people from India there. We had some people from, some Chinese exchange students, and uh, they're up there singing the words. You know, so – that's the amazing thing about Irish music. Like if you go hear rock, or let's just say you're gonna go hear polka. You're gonna get people who are part of that ethnicity and enjoy that kind of thing … I think that Irish music has a neat element. A neat element where it doesn't matter what ethnicity you are, what age you are, it is a feel good music. It just makes you wanna move.

Especially during Band Q performances there were varying ages, genders, and sexual orientations. The other audience mixtures combined different ages and genders, but different ethnicities are harder to observe. One thing that was observed by myself and others with me was an absence of African-Americans at every show I attended. This was an issue that none of the patrons or musicians ever mentioned. As it stands this set of questionnaires also reflects this observation.

Thirty-one patrons from Pub A anonymously filled out the questionnaires (Appendix B.) It was not a one-hundred percent sampling because a couple of people refused consent. The major ethnicity people self-identified with was Irish or Irish-American (two categories were created as some people were emigrants.) In response to the first question people identified up to five different ethnicities. Table 2 separates each ethnic category and compiles how many times the respondents named them regardless if they were named first, second, third, fourth, or fifth. This table shows the variety of ethnic categories attending the performance at Pub A.

            Figure 1 represents the first ethnicity people assigned themselves. This figure shows that a little over half of the patrons first and foremost self-identify as being of Irish descent. Question number eight is similar to the first question except it specifically asks if the patron has any Irish heritage. Nineteen people responded that they did have Irish ancestry. The theory behind questions one and eight was to test if people who have Irish heritage would also have a self-perception of themselves as Irish. Twenty respondents self-identify as Irish and nineteen respondents claim Irish heritage. Respondents in the Irish or Irish – American categories (Table 1 shows there are twenty of them) were placed in a separate variable coded as “Irish identify.” Pearson's test shows a significant correlation between the variables “Irish identify” and “Irish ancestry.” (r = .709   p < .01)

Table 2 . Total Numbers of Ethnic Categories Indicated by Patrons


Number of times respondents identified as

1.    Irish


2.    Irish American


3.    French


4.    Greek


5.    German


6.    Italian


7.    Russian


8.    Slovenian


9.    Lithuanian


10. Polish


11. Welsh


12. Scottish


13. Swedish


14. Hungarian


15. English


16. Native American




Figure 1.   Frequencies of Ethnicities, First Identified


              The results of Question two indicate that the patron's ages varied from the first age range through the fifth range (61 -70 years of age.) Significantly, fifteen of the thirty-one respondents fall into the first age range (21 – 30 years of age.) However, age did not prove to be a significant variable in any of the correlations.

            The “Audience Participation” responses show that people are most likely to clap along before they sing along and sing along before they request songs.

Table 3.   Frequencies for Audience Participation


Clap Along


Sing Along


Request Songs


















The results shown in Table 3 hint at the level of knowledge patrons have of Irish music. While clapping along requires no knowledge of the lyrics, singing along requires memorization of at least the hook lines, and requesting songs indicates a greater depth of knowledge of songs. One variable of participation that was omitted was tapping the foot. This was consistently noted in the observations and would be useful in further research.

            According to the statistics there is no significance to the results of either question four or five. In question four (rating the importance of Trad to oneself) we see that the greatest number of responses fall closer to the “Extremely Important” side. In Figure 2 the left side of the X axis represents “Extremely Important” and the right side shows “Not Important.” Though the results are not statistically significant they do lie in the direction anticipated.

Figure 2.   Histogram of Patrons rating the Importance of Trad

Figure 3.   Correlation of Questions Seven and Six

            Question seven (rating the extent of belonging in the Irish community) also found no concrete statistical significance. However, a correlation between question seven and six (the number of people with membership in an Irish group) found results that suggest a relationship. Figure 3 shows the graph for the correlation between questions six and seven. Since question six is a nominal variable there are two graphs plotted (for yes and no answers.) For respondents who do not have membership in any groups the majority of them lie toward the “Not Involved” end of the scale (closer to fifteen.) Those that do belong to a group show a wider range of responses to question seven. Most results lie in close to the middle. The results to the subset of questions for six are as follows: AOH had four members, LAOH had two members, and GAA and the political groups were not checked off by any respondents.

            Since the sampling was done on one occasion it presents a limited view of the community; therefore, few of the results present significant findings. Pearson's Test proved a conclusive correlation that people who self identify as Irish also have Irish heritage. The age range was mostly 21- 30 years of age. Audience participation shows a possible underlying hierarchy of participation.   The results of the last several questions proved insignificant, but some were in the predicted direction. Overall, the questionnaire's results have exposed more possible hypothesis which will be discussed in the conclusion.


            In his earlier quote Johnson alludes to Trad music having the ability to transport listeners back to Ireland . The music mainly speaks of topics that specifically deal with the land and the people in it. The pub also creates a direct link with the Emerald Isle. The Irish memorabilia in the three pubs forms an intimate setting; but more than that the paraphernalia is from Ireland . They are tangible objects which embody another dimension other than the “stories” in the music. Furthermore, the Gaelic found in some of the pubs is a linguistic connection to the Republic of Ireland 's national language.

            Ivy's reasoning for why her group of the audience attends – for the stories – presents the idea that these lyrics are also oral histories. The lyrics cover a wide range of topics, but mostly they are of several genres: political-history (dealing with political groups or The Troubles), love songs, songs about the land, national pride, and folklore. Usually some of these themes are combined, but even if a song appears to have nothing to do with any of these topics it will at least include a Gaelic word or phrase.

            While the acoustic guitar does prove to be the staple instrument for the musicians, they also make use of more traditional instruments. Specifically, the bodhr án, uillean pipes, and the tin whistle are all closely linked to Ireland . However, the type of instrument does not seem to be a very important factor. We see this in Band Q where even a didgeridoo and conga drums can provide an appropriate ensemble for an Irish tune.

            While it is difficult to generalize my findings to the wider Irish community I will venture to state that most or all Trad musicians have Irish heritage. My musician informants all had some type of Irish lineage and all were male. Gender in Trad is also a topic that could use more research. As a community, the musicians are very supportive of one another and encouraging. Entrance into the community seems to require little more than exposure to the music at a young age and a general affinity for performing it. Seamus is the only informant that spoke of his job as lucrative. In contrast to this, Daniel and Sean stated that the musicians also must have day jobs. This suggests performing is not a financially sound career. Again, more information might delve into the nuances between these conflicting ideas.

            The indigenous classification of audience members was supported through the musicians' interviews and the questionnaire data. Audience members and musicians spoke of the dichotomy between the “college crowd” and the “older crowd.” Also the results showed ages through the 61 – 70 year age block. It proves the chronological typology does exist although the data does not provide evidence for the reasons each group is there.

            There are also three music typologies that were described from the emic perspective. The “session” music and the “vocal” music are defined stylistic differences that each musician spoke of. The “Rock-Trad” category was mentioned by only a few musicians and appears to be on the periphery of Trad. There seems to be a parallel between these types of Trad and the “following” a performance attracts. The “party persona” bands (like Band Q) generally have a large number of audience members and are associated with the Rock-Trad style. Balladeer-Entertainers (like Seamus) also seem to possess a strong following. Balladeers (like Robert) and session music were not associated with a particularly strong audience membership.

            The questionnaires show one very significant conclusion. Having Irish heritage and identifying oneself as Irish go hand in hand. The predicted hypothesis that more extroverts would attend a Trad show than introverts was false according to the data. Perhaps using a set of questions with more validity would provide different results. One significant hypothesis the questionnaires provided is that there is a parallel between the hierarchy of audience participation and the depth of Trad knowledge patrons possess. If the patron has a mass of knowledge about Trad, then they will be more likely to participate in a performance. Again, another questionnaire could provide the needed information.

            Earlier in the paper Ivy is quoted as saying that one has the ability of, “being able to find an Irish community no matter where you are.”   This quote alludes to the Irish having an imagined community insofar as there can never be a face-to-face relationship between everyone. Even the “bond” that the patrons and musicians speak of implies a community spirit felt between others in the venue. Perhaps it is within a meeting place, such as a pub, where this imagined community congregates that a connection is solidified. It is important to realize there are other meeting places as well. Though pubs are a normal location for these performances to occur, they also happen in other venues and even in the family setting. Technology has also added to the community; as Declan mentions people can meet online in a forum after they've been to a show.

            Furthermore, Anderson 's definition of an imagined community is usually situated in the context of nationalism, and the people within a whole nation feeling this sense of community. While some patrons are Irish descendants and others may not have any Irish heritage there is still an element of national pride that is continually mentioned by informants.

Declan : How does the music fit into an Irish identity? I think, I think with all the ethnicities in Pittsburgh the Irish have a real sense of pride of who they are. I think the music and the pride go hand in hand. It's a relationship that you can't define, you can't write down on a piece of paper. It's something that you just feel.

Perhaps it comes from years of strife and a strong determination to survive, but finding that connection between the music and the feelings it evokes might be something we will only be able to speculate about.

            This data affords a few conclusions: there is a strong link between Irish heritage and identity, instruments of traditional origin are still being used, there are three typologies of Trad, and there are generally two classifications of audience composition. More than this the data suggests many different avenues where more research is needed. This paper would be particularly helpful in a future research endeavor.

Appendix A

Interview Guide – Musicians  

1) Tell me about how you became interested in playing Trad music.

            - When/Why did you begin playing?

            - How long have you been playing?

            - What instruments do you play?

2) What do you think about other Trad musicians in the Pgh area?

            - About how many other musicians are there?

            - Have you ever performed with any of them?

            - Do you consider it a close knit community?

3) Are you of Irish Descent?

4) How does Trad fit into your idea of an Irish identity in Pgh?

5) What places do you usually perform?

            - Do you normally perform in Pgh?

            - What's your favorite place to perform and why?

6) Tell me a bit about the audience at your shows.

            - How many people usually attend?

            - Do you notice any difference in the types of crowds that attend?

            - Do most of the people appear to know each other?

            - Have you noticed the general ages, ethnicities, or genders of audience members?

Appendix B

Questionnaire – Irish Traditional Music in Pittsburgh

Just a bit of information for you: I am an undergraduate anthropology major at the University of Pittsburgh . I am working on a research project dealing with Irish Traditional music in Pittsburgh . This questionnaire is anonymous and deals with the patrons who listen to this music. I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to complete it. Thank you!

1•  What ethnicity are you?



2.   I am in the age range of: (circle one)

  21 – 30         31- 40         41 – 50         51 – 60          61 – 70             71 – 80            81 – 90

3. During these shows how often to do you: (circle one)

                        Clap along:                               Always            Sometimes          Never

                        Sing along:                               Always             Sometimes          Never

                        Request songs                          Always             Sometimes          Never  

                        Other audience participation    _________________________________

4. Please rate how important Irish Traditional music is to you:

    (Mark an X on the line where appropriate.)

Extremely important                                                                                        Not important

5. Where on this line would you describe your personality lie?

(Mark an X on the line where appropriate.)

Extrovert                                                                                                                    Introvert

6. Do you participate in any groups or organizations that are considered Irish in nature? _________

            6a. If yes, are you member of any of the following? (check all that apply)

                        GAA                                                    ______

                        AOH                                                   ______

                        LAOH                                                  ______

                        Political groups                                    ______

                        Other Irish groups/organizations          ______

7. To what extent do you feel that you belong to Pittsburgh 's Irish Community?

(Mark an X on the line where appropriate.)

Extremely involved                                                                                             Not involved

8. Do you have any Irish heritage?


Johnston, Thomas F. “The Social Context of Irish Folk Instruments,” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music . 26 (1): 35 – 59.