Danish born Svend Kjeldsen is a bodhrán-player and percussionist, ethnomusicologist and psychologist. From a young age, he played classical violin and Scandinavian musics on the fiddle, then turning to Irish traditional music, adding the bodhrán and subsequently other frame drums and percussion to his instrumentarium.
Svend has performed with Riverdance, and toured as a musician in Europe for more than twenty years. Among others, he recorded with the bands ErrisLannan and Humdingers and also played with Moving Cloud with whom, in collaboration with Dónal Lunny, he recorded/ produced three albums. He has written several musical pieces such as “An Phléasc Mhór” (2000), “Mask Lab” (2002), “Did the Rum Do Daddy” (2005), “The Red Swan” (2007) and “Anahorish – my place of clear water” (2008). Svend has taught bodhrán electives and performance studies at the Irish World Academy and for more than twenty years, he has presented bodhrán workshops all over Europe, taught at different music institutions, at various Irish summer schools, and adjudicated at the World Bodhrán Championships. He has refined his bodhrán tuition method based on konnakkol/solkattu in the Karnatak tradition, authored textbooks for bodhrán playing, as well as prototyping instruments in cooperation with drummaker Norbert Eckermann.
As a writer Svend has published articles about migrating musicians, economic strategies and cultural politics, topics within organology, regional and local music traditions, lilting, the origins of bodhrán and bones, contemporary bodhrán playing techniques, tradition and innovation in Irish music, trends on the European-Celtic music scene, and more. In 1989, Svend founded Roots Music Agency, a company that played a key role in the Scandinavian music industry, providing tour- and event production, management, and cultural consultancy. Before immigrating to Ireland, he served as board member of the “Danish Folk Music Association (FMS)” and the “Danish Musicians Union (DMF)”.
Svend has done research on the bodhrán, on lilting and on British-Irish music. He has taken Masters in both Irish traditional music performance and ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick, where his current doctoral research is on the Irish of Manchester: “Mancunian Irish: Musical Hybridization and Cultural Intimacy.” Svend is presently living in Galway and is engaged in the vibrant music scene in the city.
“The bands intense groove, born of individual virtuosity and a deep love for the music, is driven by bodhrán and percussion wizard Svend Kjeldsen. Not only does he have the deep understanding of what a tune is about and where it’s headed that’s required of all rhythm players, but he’s also capable of extraordinary solo work, as on his tribute to Joe Heaney’s lilting “Did the Rum Do Daddy”…”Sing Out!, Vol.49, #3.
Kjeldsen, S.: ‘Lilting: The Tacit Knowledge in Irish Traditional Music’ (MA, UL, 2000)
Kjeldsen, S.: ‘The Coleman Handstrikers’ (MA, UL, 2000)
Kjeldsen, S.: ‘Bodhrán Playing in Ensembles, The Creative Spacing Process’ (MA, UL, 2010)
Kjeldsen, S.: ‘Mick Conneely: The British Galway Fiddler’ (MA, UL, 2010)
PhD-Project: AbstractMancunian Irish: Musical Hybridization and Cultural Intimacy Identity, Ethnicity, Cultural Intimacy and Musical Fusion among Second-generation Irish in Manchester
This PhD project investigates the music and life of British-Irish second-generation music makers in Manchester, Great Britain. Their lives and music performance practices are understood in their social and cultural context within the perspective of the British-Irish Diaspora. Manchester as the proposed geographical base for the analytical work is recognized as an urban entity within a capitalist class society influenced by a diversity of ethnic groups, minorities, and subcultures, which together provide a breeding ground for possible social problems, racism, and status-conflicts.
The complex, multi-layered and intertwined processes of identity-production among second generation Irish are investigated based on three main sociocultural processes, i.e. nested identities, ethnicity, and the concepts cultural intimacy and social poetics. The study intends to document how these processes are embedded in concrete music performance practices, which make up the processes of change in Irish traditional music, as they take place within the urban geography of Manchester. Manchester will be investigated, not only as a power centre for recycling existing musical ideas in the Irish traditional music idiom, but also as a fertile environment for producing new thought and music performance practices that have significant consequences for their sonic environments. In that respect, the study employs concepts such as music fusion and music hybridization. A general, hypothetical research strategy is established with the aim of investigating the existence of an Urban Manchester repertoire of rural traditional Irish music, – one or more Urban Manchester accents, an emerging Mancunian Irish idiom, and the development of a Mancunian Irish world music.
It is the intention to investigate if this Irish urban modernity offers opposition and countercultural potential against the British national culture. If that is the case, it then becomes essential to investigate if this invented Irish urban modernity can be understood as an effort to break down or dilute the sense of cultural intimacy, thereby weakening of its concomitant embarrassment and maybe even allow an escape- or a release from the cultural intimacy. This may generate space for the release of a creative presentation of the self, i.e. display of social poetics, in both individual and collective musical settings. Such a may simultaneously express rebelliousness as a love of national independence.