Call to the Dance


n Experience of the Socio-Cultural World of Traditional Breton Music and Dance

Desi Wilkinson


190 pp.

18 illustrations

SKU: 9378-1-20-1-16-1-10-2-16-3 Categories: ,


Over the course of the 40 years between 1970 and 2010 Brittany has experienced an intense revival of activity in the area of vernacular traditional music performance and social dancing. Circle dancing there is arguably the most popularly enjoyed community based dance form in Western Europe. In its most traditional form the music and singing which drive the dance are immediate and arresting in their raw appeal. Addressing both scholarly and musical constituencies, Irish musician and academic Desi Wilkinson opens a nuanced window, informed by his own experience, into this vibrant socio-musical reality. The book deals with issues of local identity as expressed through the aesthetic medium of music and dance and includes access to field recordings of selected singers and musicians. Directly related to these recordings are basic transcriptions of both text and music that, taken together, give readers a good template from which to develop some understanding of its aesthetic features. The Pan-Breton selection to be found here is the cohort of round dance music forms that are most representative of the Breton tradition in the 2010s. A description of what has emerged as the most iconic dance form, the suite gavotte montagne, is included. The notional world of contemporary popular Celticism (Celtitude) is tied to folk music performance and Wilkinson examines the particularity of its Breton and francophone construction.


Desi Wilkinson:

Desi Wilkinson is a leading exponent of the traditional Irish flute and a fine traditional singer. He has recorded five albums with the internationally renowned group Cran, two solo albums–the Three Piece Flute and Shady Woods –and a host of other recording collaborations that reflect his eclectic musical interests. Originally from Belfast, Wilkinson has worked and toured with many of the best-known musicians and groups on the Irish folk music scene. From 1992 to 1994 he lived in Brittany, learning, playing and studying Breton music. He speaks French fluently and has combined musical and research interests throughout his career, completing an MA in ethnomusicology at Queens University Belfast in 1991 and a doctorate at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick in 1999. He worked as a full-time lecturer at the International Centre for Music studies (ICMuS), Newcastle University U.K. for ten years (2005-2015) and his work has been published in academic journals and book chapters. He is currently traditional musician in residence at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, where he continues to combine music-making with academic pursuits.