My article ‘Medieval Gaelic harp setup’ is published in the current volume of Early Music Performer. (no. 40, Spring 2017, p.16-25)
A few different things I have been reading recently have come together in some vague and half-baked ideas on performance issues.
I came across Jonathan Basile’s Library of Babel a while back. This online project has created (in virtual form) the “universal library” imagined by Borges, containing in this case, every possible page of 26 letters. Of course, that means that it does indeed contain this blog post – at least the beginning of it.
I have been reading The other classical musics edited by Michael Church (Boydell 2015). When I first saw this book, in Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford, I thought I wouldn’t like it; I thought the idea of “classical music” as a general concept was too problematical. I kept thinking about the issues though, and later I had another look in Topping’s bookshop here. So I realised I had to get it and read it.
I often hear the opinion that decoration on a new harp is a kind of decadent luxury, unnecessary, a bit of an affectation. And when decoration is applied to a replica harp, it is often somewhat simplified, or sketchy, or partial.
After I finished the Trinity College harp neck decoration sheet, I thought again about the issues surrounding this type of art, considering the sketchy and approximate versions of this scheme that we have seen up to now even on the best copies of the harp.
I was asked recently to do a book review for a scholarly journal. However I really don’t think much at all of the book in question, and I hesitate to criticise others’ work too roundly, so I will likely turn down this request. If only I had the literary skills of Thomas de Quincey: Continue reading Reviewing a book you don’t like
I am preparing for Wednesday’s concert here in St Andrews. I am going to play a programme of “Ceòl Rígh Innse Gall”, my speculative re-imaginings of medieval West-Highland ceremonial music. This project is still very much a work-in-progress, and I am still thinking hard about how this music should work, and what sources of inspiration and musical material to raid.
Some years ago, I got the CD of Willie Ruff’s ‘realisation for the ear’ of the planetary tones from Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi of 1619. Just recently I noticed that his web page has been updated with a very interesting Youtube interview where he discusses this project. Well worth a listen: Continue reading The Harmony of the World