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Cinzia Yates (formerly Chinzia Curtis)


Position: Postgraduate student Email:

Cinzia Yates has been a Manx musician, dancer and occasional ceili caller for over twenty years. Playing the whistle and Manx dancing from an early age, Cinzia is no stranger to the performance and teaching of Manx traditional music and has played and sung across the world at Interceltic Festivals and other events.

Before beginning her PhD thesis, Cinzia worked for the Manx Heritage Foundation as Music Resource Coordinator, to create the Manx Music Database. This position developed into the Manx Music Development Officer as part of a team working to create new music resources and promote traditional Music and Dance on and off the Isle of Man. Cinzia was also the director of the Manx inter-Celtic festival Yn Chruinnaght, acted on the Shennaghys Jiu festival committee and acted as delegate and pavilion manager for the Isle of Man at the Festival Interceltique Lorient

While finishing her PhD Cinzia is also currently acting as Research Development Officer for the Arts & Humanities in the Research and Commercial Division of Cardiff University.


PhD Research
Canon as Process in Manx Traditional Music

Cinzia is currently concentrating on her PhD Thesis, loosely titled 'Canon as Process in Manx Traditional Music'.

The main focus of Cinzia's research is why and how the corpus of Manx secular music appears to change so drastically during the 19th century, and how we now use this corpus to perform a Manx identity; how we come to have Manx ‘folk’ music.

There are a few manuscripts from the early 19th century that imply that Manx musicians playing music found all over the British Isles and Europe. It was a mixture of popular song and the modern ‘classical’ corpus. However, this was not reflected in the main collecting event of the later 19th century culminating in the publication of Manx National Songs (1896).

The particular focus of this study is the change of repertoire as a development of a canon; the processes by which a Manx ‘folk' canon has crystallized. In this context the term is used in the biblical sense; the canon as a repository and representation of a discipline or ideology. Much has been written on the classical music canon centred on Beethoven while the literary canon can be seen to orbit Shakespeare. However, these canons are huge and complex. Try and look directly at them and they disappear, and it is the vast and nebulous nature of canons that make them so difficult.

By looking at Manx manuscripts historically, in conjunction with ethnographic research into the way in which modern Manx musicians make choices about repertoire, this research exposes the mechanics and implications of canon formation. Sessions and performances, both on and off the island have been recorded, as well as interviews and questionnaires to find out from the musicians how they feel about a Manx canon, not just the music most written about by academia. Canon forming processes can be viewed directly on the Isle of Man and happen every Saturday night in the Whitehouse, Peel.

It is possible that the collection by Clague and Gill reflects an oral canon of music, whilst the manuscript collections reflect a literate canon. It is well recognised that literacy is essential to oral transmission. The application of an ideology of Manxness has meant which tunes are Manx and which are not has been decided, in disregard of what Manx people may have actually played. Manx folk dance has further precipitated the central canon by requiring a common repertoire for ceilis and dance groups.

Many musicologists feel that study should move away from canons, others that they need defending. However, by finding a way to look directly at the development of Manx music not only the working of the development of a concept of performable Manxness is discovered, but canons can be demystified and understood. Manx music can provide a window into the workings of a culture and reveal that canon is in fact a process, not a rule.

Cinzia's research

Supervisor: Dr John Morgan O’Connell


2010 Review Essay 'Play it like it is' and ‘Driving the Bow’. Ethnomusicology 54/4, Fall 2010 

2007 Leaflet Kiaull as Rinkey: your guide to Manx music and dance today. (Manx Heritage Foundation: Isle of Man)

‘Celtic’ Dance on the Isle of Man’ 21st Century Celts: Proceedings of the inaugural conference of the Celtic Education Research Network. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge).

‘The Manx Music Database’ in Centred on Mann, ed. Peter Davey and Breesha Maddrell (Centre for Manx Studies, University of Liverpool: Isle of Man)

‘A Case Study In Traditional Music Teaching On The Isle Of Man. The teaching methods of Mike Boulton, his effect on Manx traditional music and the lessons we can learn in Ireland.’ Crosbhealach an Cheoil: Education and Traditional Music (Journal of Musicology in Ireland: Ireland)

Conference contributions

September 2010 ' Talented Artists or Hardworking Craftsmen? Perceptions of Talent in the Semi-Professional Popular Music Scene in Cardiff' Experience, Engagement, Meaning. Biennial conference of IASPM-UK/Ireland.

April 2008 'Celtic Canons: Craft and craftsmen in Manx traditional music' British Forum for Ethnomusicology Annual Conference, The School of Music, Cardiff University

October 2006 ‘…while the others did some capers’: the Manx Traditional Dance revival 1929 – 1960’ Centre for Manx Studies (CMS), University of Liverpool – invited seminar

August 2006 ‘Celtic’ Dance on the Isle of Man’ 21st Century Celts, Inaugural conference of the Celtic Education Research Network (Institute of Cornish Studies, Exeter/University of Colorado, Boulder), Truro, Cornwall.

June 2006 ‘Manx Dance: A new perspective’ CMS postgraduate seminar day.

May 2006 ‘Manx Music Database’ poster presentation for CMS colloquium, Liverpool.

Dec 2005 ‘A case study in Traditional Music Teaching on the Isle of Man. The teaching methods of Mike Boulton, his effect on Manx traditional music and the lessons we can learn.’ CMS seminar series.

July 2005 ‘Manx Music Resource Coordinator’ Ian O’Leary Memorial Lecture, Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival, Isle of Man.

April 2004 ‘The development of Manx Music Resources: an ethnomusicologist’s perspective’ CMS music seminar day.

April 2003 ‘A Case Study In Traditional Music Teaching On The Isle Of Man. The teaching methods of Mike Boulton, his effect on Manx traditional music and the lessons we can learn in Ireland.’ Crossroads Conference, Derry, Ireland.

Teaching experience
2008-2010 Co-tutor (lectures, tutorials & marking): Music in Cross Cultural Perspective, BMus Yr 2, Cardiff University

2009 'Music as a Lifestyle' Music in Human Life, BMus Yr 1, Cardiff University

2009 'Music & Economy; the Irish Session' Music in Human Life, BMus Yr 1, Cardiff University

2009 'Music and Canon' MA Ethnomusicology, Music and Discourse Module, Cardiff University

2008 'Databasing for Ethnomusicologists' MA Ethnomusicology and Yr 3 Ethnomusicology Project BMus, Cardiff University

2006 Lecture: ‘Organisation for Research’, Research Skills module, MA in Manx Studies.

2006 Lecture: ‘A Manx Music Database’, Music in Society in the Isle of Man module, MA in Manx Studies.

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