Relationship between music and the supernatural as that is portrayed in early medieval Irish literature
O'Keefe, Karen Maeve
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This thesis is an essay in the phenomenology of religion; it is not primarily a study of the literature or history of early Ireland. This thesis investigates the content and meaning of the early Irish people's language and expression as it relates to music. The culture being investigated is that of early medieval Ireland, up to and including the twelfth century. The focus of the thesis is on a Collection of music references extracted by this author from selected literature; the Collection itself is presented here as an independent Appendix volume to the main body of the thesis. The specific literature selected for this thesis is found in eight major categories of Old and Middle Irish texts: 1) tales from the Mythological Cycle; 2) Dindshenchas (Place-lore poems); 3) the tales and sagas from the Ulster Cycle; 4) the tales from the Cycles of the Kings literature; 5) the Immrama ("Voyage") literature; 6) tales from the Acallam na Senorach; 7) early Irish poetry; and 8) the early Irish saints' Lives. This thesis is divided into five major chapters--Performers, Instruments, Effects, Places, and Times. The Performers chapter examines the "supernatural" performers, the mundane performers, and those performers portrayed with some degree of Otherworld influence(s). The Instruments chapter discusses the various instruments portryed in this literature, as well as how they might relate to the Otherworld. The Effects chapter examines all of the various effects of music mentioned in the references from the Collection, and discusses how they relate to the "supernatural". The Places and Times chapters discuss the "supernatural'', liminal, and mundane places and times regarding music, as referred to in the references from the Collection. Comparative material is used from other world cultures, in each chapter, for illustratory purposes only. Arguing that music is a means by which the early Irish people test their world and register its realities, this thesis discovers in this select literature on music, an unbroken continuity between the otherworldly and the mundane, experienced and expressed through early Irish music, and this is common to both overtly primal and overtly Christian contexts.