Speaking on 10th July, 1849, the Irish harper Patrick Byrne explained to the antiquarian John Bell, the system for tuning the early Irish harp. After starting at na comhluighe, and using a cycle of 5ths to set the middle octave of the harp, he says
Then you sound the G on the violin & B & D, and the octave above which is G which makes a common chord
Continue reading a common chord
I am working on the pìobaireachd or ceòl mór, Cogadh no Sith, for this coming Wednesday’s lunchtime concert in St Andrews.
My idea is that this grand geometrical composition can stand as a kind of proxy for the lost medieval Gaelic harp repertory, which would have been played on the Queen Mary harp in the great hall at Finlaggan in the 15th Century for the Lords of the Isles.
Continue reading Cogadh no Sith – War or Peace
Yesterday I was at the Birnam Hotel in Dunkeld, to address the Pìobaireachd Society‘s annual conference on the subject of “clàrsach ceòl mór”.
I was delighted and honoured to be asked by the Society to give this presentation on my work.
Continue reading Pìobaireachd Society conference
I am listening to last night’s BBC broadcast of The Well-Tuned Piano by La Monte Young. This fascinating five hour performance has prompted many thoughts and half-baked ideas on the nature of this kind of music.
Continue reading Extended compositions or performances
As I have been practicing the Fairy Queen for tomorrow’s concert, and I have the Downhill harp here this week, I thought I would do a quick Youtube of it as a record of where I am at the moment.
Continue reading The Fairy Queen
Practicing for my Carolan concert this coming Thursday lunchtime, I have got the Downhill harp back from my student who usually has it and I was reminded of how I often talk about the importance of using an appropriate instrument for different repertory. Continue reading An cruit bheag ‘s an cruit mhor
At today’s concert in All Saints Church Hall, I played Cumha Raonuill Mhic Ailein Òig on the fiddle, as part of my new programme “The contest betwixt fiddle & harp”. I was very nervous to present the fiddle in public but it seemed to go down very well.
Continue reading Playing a fiddle tune
I am going to play the replica Queen Mary harp in Kisimul Castle on Barra in the Autumn, and so I thought I should get a MacNeil of Barra tune up and running. I am finding it a great challenge to get MacNeil of Barra’s March working on the harp.
Continue reading MacNeil of Barra’s March