Third Space Ensemble and the Bucks of Bangalore: An Ethnography of Irish-Indian Music Pedagogy

Matthew Noone


In 2012, the director of the BA in Irish traditional performance program at the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, Dr. Niall Keegan, had given me my first 'gig' as an ensemble pedagogue. I was invited to teach thirty first year undergraduates how to take an Irish traditional tune and use Indian classical techniques on it. To quote Dr. Keegan, “Mess with it'...improve it...Indian-ify it.â€

While I had been playing Indian Classical music for over a decade and collaborated with many musicians around the globe, this was my first experience working with Irish traditional musicians.  I still remember that first class, sitting cross legged on a rug on the floor with my sarode[i] surrounded by students in chairs. It must have been as strange an experience for the students as it was for me. I'd never been in a classroom with so many different instruments and also so many different emotional temperaments ranging from concertina (curiosity) to banjo (bemusement), accordion (apathy), fiddle (flaked out), and whistle (wondering what the hell I'm doing here!).

[i] A 25 stringed North Indian lute.

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