Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Burt Feintuch, Lynwood Montell, Jim Wayne Miller

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis provides an in-depth study of a traditional Irish flute player, Jack Coen. Jack, raised in the village of Woodford in County Galway, immigrated to America in 1949 at the age of twenty-four. With his large repertoire of Irish traditional dance tunes, Jack has played music at parties, dances, with the New York Ceilidhe Band, and at festivals such as the 1976 Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C. Jack teaches the flute and the tin whistle and is recognized both as a teacher and as a player.

By examining Jack Coen’s music we learn about the style, technique, and repertoire of a traditional Irish flute player. And by focusing on the performer, we observe the relationship between the stylistic features of Jacks’ music and his sense of musical aesthetics; that is, his perception of how the traditional Irish flute should sound and the way in which he aims to achieve a musical quality on the flute. From the performer we also understand more about the traditional process of transmission by discovering how the music has been learned, the different situations of performance, and the manner in which the music is taught. This understanding provides us with the knowledge of how the music has been carried on from generation to generation and by whom. In the case of Jack Coen, and the many Irish immigrant musicians who came to America before him, we see how an Irish musical tradition has functioned when transplanted to another culture.


Anthropology | Ethnomusicology | Music | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology