Home > Uncategorized > Music and Song In Eumaeus and Ithaca

Music and Song In Eumaeus and Ithaca

Monday, November 9, 2009; 03:48 am Leave a comment Go to comments

Performance: 7777

Opera: 666666666

Song: 66666666666666666666677777

Music: 77777

Composer: 666666666677

Instrument(s): 7

Again, above is the statistical breakdown for Eumaeus and Ithaca.  Ithaca was particularly lacking in music and song, perhaps due in part to the mechanical, scientific tone of the episode.

Of course, the notable break to this is the second appearance of musical notation on pages 566-67 of the song “Jew’s Daughter” (the first appearance of notation occurs at 9.500, page 162).  Ultimately, this is the most complete vision we get of music, as it is as close to performance itself—both in the sense that Stephen is performing it, and in the sense that the music is a blueprint for the song to be recreated and performed.

In Ithaca, nearly a quarter of the mentions of song and music occur when Bloom reenters his house and sees Molly’s piano and sheet music (17.1302-10).  Although I’ve previously established the domestic space as one where distinctively Irish music exists, the picture presented in this scene runs in sharp contrast.  First of all, the Cadby (the piano), was, according to the Gifford, manufactured in England.  The performer mentioned, Madam Antoinette Sterling, was an American, and the musical term, ritirando, was Italian (Gifford 587).  According to my previous ideas on this topic, Bloom’s house should have been “more Irish,” but then again, the household, and the marriage as a whole is at that moment more or less foreign to Bloom, who even considers not going back into his house after parting ways with Stephen.

At 16.362-63, while in the cabman’s shelter, Bloom and Stephen briefly touch on an interesting discussion related to sound and identity: “Sounds are impostures, Stephen said after a pause of some little time, like names.”  Again, going back to the “musemathematics” concept, Stephen views songs as imitations, which is particularly interesting that his later performance receives the accompanying notation.

For a performance of the Rover (16.653) the partial lyrics for which are on pages 543-44 of the Gifford, here’s the link to a version by the Dubliners (named after the book) and the Pogues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au30c9ZMIPg Oddly enough, I’d seen this video before I started the book, and can remember hearing this song when I was younger.

Bloom continues to view (or at least consider) everything through an economic lens.  At the end of Eumaeus he considers basically taking on Boylan’s role as promoter of concerts where Stephen would perform.  He states: “. . . it often turned in uncommonly handy to be handed a cheque at a muchneeded moment when every little helped” (16.1845-47).  While part of his goal is to break up the monotony of the Dublin music scene, his main goal seems to be the exploitation of talent for a financial gain, hence the fact that he has to continually reassure Stephen that: “. . . he would have heaps of time to practise literature in his spare moments . . .” (16.1860-61).  This of course implies that writing is somehow a more refined art, and perhaps what Stephen, or artists in general, should pursue.  However, as this is just one of the many cases during the two episodes in which Bloom’s mind entertains some odd fantasy, it’s hard to say anything definitive about his statements.

I also stumbled across this website if anyone’s curious: http://www.james-joyce-music.com/ulysses.html and while it doesn’t seem particularly scholarly, it does have clips of some of the more frequently mentioned songs in Ulysses.

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  1. Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 04:24 am at 4:24 am

    I realize that this is your Monday post, but you brought up something that I would like to contest: “Although I’ve previously established the domestic space as one where distinctively Irish music exists, the picture presented in this scene runs in sharp contrast. First of all, the Cadby (the piano), was, according to the Gifford, manufactured in England. The performer mentioned, Madam Antoinette Sterling, was an American, and the musical term, ritirando, was Italian (Gifford 587). According to my previous ideas on this topic, Bloom’s house should have been “more Irish,””

    While on one level the diversity of musicality represents the chaos in Bloom’s domestic life, Joyce is actually using the national disparity to further his vision of Ireland as a mixed country. The domestic becomes international, and the exotic becomes the domestic. If the Blooms musical life was more Irish they would come closer to the myopic Citizen’s green muffler idea of Ireland. By bringing the two extremes together we get more of the Joycean moderation that seems to be the underpinning of the novel.

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