Library Dissertation Showcase

BLOOD AND THUNDER: a study of Northern Ireland’s Marching Flute Bands, and their development from the Troubles to present day. How have external factors influenced the music and practices of flute bands in Northern Ireland?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

In Northern Ireland, marching flute bands have been used within patriarchal parades and are frequently associated with violence and paramilitarism (Dougan, 2013). Found within loyalist communities, the genre of flute band known as Blood and Thunder (henceforth referred to at B&T bands) are often attributed to the recent rapid revival of band numbers (Ramsey, 2011a, 88). The instrumentation of these bands consists of the B♭ flute, snare drum and bass drum (Casserly, 2013, 143; Bands Parade, 2013). Hall suggests that there are approximately 650 active bands within the Protestant communities of Northern Ireland (Hall, 2014, 4). The music they perform is described as a percussive variation on traditional or popular songs (Ramsey, 2011a, 88; MacDonald, 2010, 24), with their rhythmic drumming patterns and extravagant performance style setting them apart from other marching flute bands in the region (Ramsey, 2011a, 89).

The purpose of this study is to establish how the external factors of politics, identity and society have influenced the music and practices of Blood & Thunder bands, from their emergence in the 1970s during the Troubles, to the present day. Although the impact of B&T bands is felt across all communities, this study is focused on Protestant communities and the place of these bands within them.

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