Keep Calm and Carolan!

A lot has happened since last I blogged… tilly

I have been working on lots of new tracks. There’s much more music coming up and we are nearing completion of the second album – I will be tweeting and facebooking and all sorts of other verbs that once upon a time had no meaning at all as soon as there is some news to bring you …

And I am extremely, elatedly happy to announce.

that our recording of Si Bheag Si Mhor is making waves here and there:  it has been included on the award-winning Marc Gunn’s very excellent Irish and Celtic Music Podcast which you can listen to here.  If you don’t regularly listen to Marc’s podcast then you are missing a treat (not just because he has featured our music!) – you can hear a wealth of great music in these podcasts.  I strongly urge you to check out his site.

If you haven’t heard our arrangements of Si Bheag Si Mhor and Fanny Power (I know, I know – that one always raises a smirk), you can view our YouTube videos here. We hope you like this music as much as we do.

Gravel Walks Video is now available

And finally on the self-publicity hard-sell front here is a link to our brand new video Gravel Walks in the CountryGravel Walks in the Country - YouTube

If you like this music half as much as we love it then we will be happy!

By the way the video was shot in and around Haytor which is on Dartmoor in Devon (pictured left) – one of the most beautiful places on earth.

You may know that Si Bheag Si Mhor and Fanny Power are the timeless compositions of Turlough O’Carolan.  Increasingly, I am delighted to say, the body of work of this excellent tunesmith is finding its way in to the canon of Celtic music – deservedly so in my opinion.  You see, there have been (and still are) very many writers of melody over the ages some of whom have written some moving and delightful music, but to my mind few have composed so many pieces of such mysterious intrigue and beauty as Carolan.  His music is deceptively simple.  Generally his melodies have come down to us in simple form indeed – with little instruction about how they might be performed – but there is something – an knowable something – in his music that seems to suggest to musically sensitive souls how they should be played.  In some there is an intense sadness, in some a melancholy tenderness and in others a light and airy but listless joy.  He might have earned his place in the musical hall of fame by writing just one of these tunes – but to have written so many of them is genius.

Fanny Power (behave yourself) was written for the wife of one of the landed gentry and as you may know the blind Carolan enjoyed the patronage of the wealthy to make a living. She was Frances Power.  Funny how meanings change over time (which relates back to my earlier comment about language that never used to exist in the pre-computer age).

I might be overstepping the mark a bit admittedly – and if Carolan were alive today he might point a finger at me (or roughly in my direction – him being blind and all) and cackle derisively at my preposterous blithering, but I would take it with humility if he did.  I would be happy to stand corrected by the great man and I would be prepared to beg him to tell me what the secret is to writing simple tunes that conveyed so much.  It is as if the simplicity of his music was necessary so as not to cloud the subtlety.  There is such fineness to his emotive expression that from one light to another the meaning can change – the musical equivalent to a sheen or iridescence.  Ok, Mr. Carolan you can stop cackling now – I can imagine by now you would be holding your ribs in pain – I am trying to understand the extraordinary gift that must have been second nature to you.

It does seem to be the case that in the lives of a great many artists there is sorrow and tragedy and that by some human psychological contrivance the artist’s response is echoed in his or her output.  Carolan went blind after contracting smallpox at the age of 18.  Look around you today at any 18 year-olds you know and imagine what the impact of such an event would be on them – and then imagine way back then, when, as idyllic as it is sometimes portrayed on film, life was damned hard for some.  Perhaps this tragedy informed the elemental cry in his music, and perhaps the kindness shown to him was the tenderness…  There is necessity and imperative, hurt and recovery, painful memory and gratitude in the composition process and it shines through in Carolan’s works.

So, if life gets a little tough for you the best advice I can offer is to Keep Calm and Carolan!

Take care all and I’ll blog again soon

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