Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Submitted for the Award of PhD to Technological University Dublin College of Arts and Tourism: Conservatory of Music and Drama, April 2015.


As both a traditional Irish musician and composer, I am always striving to effectively fuse folk music and contemporary compositional techniques together. From a young age, I was immersed in all aspects of Irish folk culture from music to folklore and these early influences have become a fundamental source of inspiration for my works. This research project examines how the syntheses of ethnic music with contemporary techniques, have informed my composition portfolio and culminated in the development of my individual approach, where timbre and folk idioms combine to form a distinctive stylistic genre.

Many composers have delved into this area in the past, Seóirse Bodley, Eric Sweeney and Donnacha Dennehy are three Irish composers that I have highlighted as contrasting examples of how this integration of styles has emerged and been established. Throughout the body of this thesis, I explore how a new approach to the juxtaposition of folk music, narrative, structure, harmony, melody, rhythm and timbre relates to the overall stylistic sonic resultant. The accompanying portfolio consists of ten compositions ranging from solo to orchestral and including electronic music. Three original Irish jigs and one Finnish joik (a Sámi folk song), form the basis from which the majority of folk material is extracted. The range of instrumental forces utilised, explores the transformation of the folk tunes in various acoustic guises and with regard to the electronic medium which allows for resynthesis in another contextual framework.


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