The music that is broadly defined as Irish has developed in tandem with the media technologies of the past 100 years. From the wax cylinder to the iPod, technology has had a dramatic impact on the preservation, transmission and transformation of music in general and of Irish music in particular, a genre whose roots lie deep in non-technical oral traditions. This talk examines the role the gramophone played during the first half of the twentieth century as Irish music traveled back and forth across the Atlantic. Dr. Roxanne O’Connell investigates the patterns that emerged based on information gleaned from interviews with Irish and Irish American families and musicians and an analysis of their collections of 78s.
ROXANNE O’CONNELL, Ph.D. is associate professor and Chair of the Department of Communication at Roger Williams University teaching visual communication and digital media. Her professional life has fallen into two areas: visual media and music. As a teacher and publishing consultant with more than 20 years of experience in design, e-commerce, and marketing, she specializes in information design, audience research and Web site usability. Media research interests include traditional and digital media, perception and visual rhetoric. A musician since age 12, she has performed with her husband Robbie O’Connell on stages large and small, from coffeehouses to international music festivals, in village pubs and on outdoor stages. Before she started teaching at university, she had recorded backup vocals on five CDs. She now uses what she knows about media and sound to teach her students how to create multimodal digital narratives. Her dissertation, “The Golden Age of Irish Music: The cultural impact of 78 rpm recordings in Ireland and Irish America” examines the role media has played in the creation, transmission, transformation, preservation and reclamation of Irish music. She is currently assembling interviews and stories collected in her research for a book. We welcome Doctor O’Connell for this, her first speaking engagement with the Museum.