Shared Imaginations: Celtic and Corsican Encounters in the Soundscape of the Soul

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This article sets out to exlore the numerous links—both tangible and symbolic—that might be seen to exist between Corsicans and Celts, both from a historical perspective and in their present position as peoples ‘on the fringe’ of modern-day nationhood, and within this framework to offer an account of musical activity in Corsica. I begin by examining the terms of the debate regarding a possible earlier Celtic presence in Corsica. I then consider direct encounters between Celts and Corsican in more recent times, before delving into more archetypal and ideological realms. A number of themes and issues raised in this first section of my discussion form a necessary backdrop for the second half of the chapter, which focuses on the practice of, and attitudes towards, traditional music in Corsica in the 20th century. In particular I examine the ways in which the unfolding of political events and the evolution of political consciousness in recent decades has informed musical practice at a variety of levels. My intention here is not to suggest any direct kinship between Corsican and Celtic musics in terms of the musical material itself but rather to explore broader resonances at the level of function, structure and representation. In the course of the discussion I also reflect on my own ‘Celtic’ status and on my recent peregrinations as a latter-day ‘Celt’ in Corsica. I conclude by offering some thoughts on the similarities and differences in the perception of identity and its enactment at a musical level in Corsica and the Celtic lands today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCeltic Modern
Subtitle of host publicationMusic at the Global Fringe
EditorsMartin Stokes, Philip V Bohlman
Place of PublicationLanham, MA
PublisherScarecrow Press
Number of pages46
ISBN (Print)0-8108-4780-9 (hardcover), 0-8108-4781-7 (pbk)
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Publication series

NameEuropea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities
PublisherScarecrow Press


  • Corsica
  • Celts
  • Riacquistu
  • Canta u Populu Corsu
  • Music and identity


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