Listening to Paddy Canny

Thursday 2 June 2022 at 6:00pm (AEST) | Melbourne Conservatorium of Music / Online

The subject of Helen O’Shea’s new work, No Better Boy: Listening to Paddy Canny is an iconic fiddle player from the rural West of Ireland, whose life spanned the War of Independence, the new nation state’s slow emergence from poverty and isolation, and the rise of a national music culture. The book reveals how Paddy’s musical practice developed alongside critical developments in sound technology and consequent changes in listening practice and musical models.

This lecture demonstrates the author’s adoption of creative non-fiction techniques to meet the twin challenges of writing a life story with virtually no written sources, and of producing musical analyses accessible to readers with and without formal music education.

Helen O’Shea is the author of The Making of Irish Traditional Music, an influential critique of Ireland’s national music culture informed by her doctoral research in sociology at Victoria University and Trinity College, Dublin and her research background in history, gender studies, and literature. Her current project has additionally drawn on her earlier experience as an oral historian for the National Library of Australia, where the Helen O’Shea Collection will be accessible online in the coming months.