Share your Fieldwork

The primary aim of Outreach Ethnomusicology is to share fieldwork research. Below is a list of items that are included for view by members of the community. 

Some of these articles are official documents of research which have been submitted to university departments, so they are set "not viewable" by the public, only registered members of outreach can view them. But, we welcome all sorts of articles within the interests of ethnomusicology, so please get in touch on outreachethnomusicology@gmail.com if you think you would like to contribute.

When we receive documents, we usually will have a full read through, and then reply with a formatted version for the internet, ready to publish. How much exposure or access you want for your work will depend on your own needs, and we will publish or unpublish anything upon request. 

Thank you,
Patrick

 

 

The Foggy Dew Meaning and Lyrics: The History of an Irish Rebel Song

As mentioned above, according to Zimmermann, Irish songs should be sung only by an Irish singer in the appropriate place and in front of the appropriate audience. That’s not the case entirely I believe, as some performers are not Irish at all, but they sing the song because they like it or because they like Irish history (in my case, I would say both happen). Of course, Zimmermann is probably right when he talks about the “right surrounding”. I remember once, when I was performing music for the Greek- Irish Society (I was 15 years old and didn’t know a lot about Irish history), I decided to sing “The Foggy Dew” on Saint Patrick’s Day! Very  I would say; not because it was Saint Patrick's day and it’s supposed to be a festive day, but mostly because not everybody from the audience was Irish! I didn’t know that by then - these are the mistakes of adolescence - When I finished the song, I could see people crying; a lady came towards me and she said: "That was amazing, Labrini!" (she was crying) But you know, you should maybe think twice before performing this song next time. You know, this is a rebel song and I’m English…


I understood at once the mistake I had made by performing it. I truly believed, for some reason, that all the people in the Society would be either Irish or Greeks. I didn’t feel very well, because I understood that I had offended with my singing, unwillingly of course, some people there. I only chose the song because I found the music, in combination with the lyrics, very fascinating.

Let’s say for example that nowadays, an Irish band is asked to perform at a big venue in London. In their program, they contain rebel songs among others. Are they going to exclude rebel songs from their repertoire just because they are going to sing in London, in front of an English audience and that makes it inappropriate? Yes, they will do it eventually, I think; because the English audience will feel awkward towards this performance. However, I believe that Irish rebel songs are part of the Irish Tradition and should not be excluded from any performance just because the lyrics are offensive towards a particular audience.

We can’t say that this song has passed through many changes all these years, since the first time it was performed. There were of course processes of changes, like the variation in the melody, the instrumentation, the arrangement, the rhythm, the tempo, the performer, the venue. Each one thing from the above played a vital role in the processes of change of this song. Not to mention, that today many bands are  combining  Irish rebel songs with punk-rock tempo. It seems that the Irish Rebellion has influenced the punk-rock rebellion. Names like Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, U2 and the Cranberries are only few of the many.

In the music video clips of The Wolfe Tones and the Dubliners on the other side, when performing “The Foggy Dew”, we can see many differences. First of all, The Wolfe Tones’ posture, with their hands in their pockets, show that they just sing the song to make a new album and not because they feel something about the lyrics themselves. Their voices of course have a revolutionary colour, thus giving the emphasis that is needed. The Dubliners, from the other side, perform live this song, giving the impression of enjoying and understanding the lyrics. Both interpretations though give a rebel character in the song. Let’s not forget that both these bands popularized Irish Music all over the world and made a lot of income through the sale of their recordings.

The Chieftains’ performance with Sinead O’ Connor is different from that of Sarah Mc Lachlan on the grounds of venue and occasion. They first recorded the song with Sinead O’ Connor, but during one of their tours they asked from Sarah McLachlan to sing with them. Both renditions are splendid and different at the same time. Both women have mysterious voices that give you shivers when you listen to them. The arrangement of the Chieftains is more march like, giving the impression of the war, but also lamenting the dead.

 

…for slavery fled, oh rebel dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.

 

In this paper, we examined the impact that political events have on the culture of a country. On a more specific level, we spoke of “rebel songs” and the song which represents Easter Rising better: “The Foggy Dew”. We examined different renditions of performers and different aspects of their performance. We saw how popular and favorite this song is among the performers. Finally - is “The Foggy Dew”, a song that should be excluded from one’s repertoire because of its identity? I think that the many recordings, live performances and arrangements of the song throughout the years prove the opposite. Surely, it should not be performed in a “surrounding” that would hurt or offend, a certain kind of audience in any way. But definitely, it should not be forgotten, as it is part of the Irish History and oral tradition.