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Beginning - 04 May 2024

Of love and lamentation: ancient harp music from Ireland

Description

Some of the most enchanting aspects of Irish music are its heartfelt laments and love airs. Many are centuries old but still have the power to speak to the deepest parts of our modern souls. In this course you will discover two such laments and an air. All three are taken from the very first printed collection of Irish music, published in the heart of Dublin in 1724.

We will explore my reconstructions of these, including historical playing techniques used by the old Irish harpers, working also on finer points of phrasing and dynamics. Along the way we will discover the stories and anecdotes behind the music.

EARLY-BIRD DISCOUNT: enroll now for €99 and save 24% off the full price of €130. Offer ends 20 April, 2024.

Course Duration

6 Sessions

Level

Post-beginner+

Class Time

2:00–3:15 pm Irish time

Tutor(s)

Price

€99.00

Saturday | 2:00–3:15 pm Irish time

04 May

Session 1

Da mihi manum [‘give me your hand’] (1 of 2)

Said to have been composed in the early 17th century by the harper, Ruairí Dall Ó Cathaín, you will learn the story behind this beautiful melody in the memoirs of the later harper, Arthur O'Neill. We will compare the 1724 setting with earlier and later versions found in Scottish sources, and will discover, when we play it, why it was called an ‘arcanum' or mystery item.

11 May

Session 2

Da Mihi Manum ['give me your hand'] (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now we may also work on fleshing out the melody, adding a historically plausible, simple 'lower hand’. We will decide the relative importance of the notes in each phrase, understanding why we might accentuate some rather than others, finally playing with both hands together. 

18 May

Session 3

Lord Galway (1 of 2)

This moving Jacobite lament was composed for a Viscount Galway, who fought on the side of James III, as he tried to win the throne of England. It has been tentatively attributed to the famous 18th-century Irish harper, Turlough Carolan. The beauty of this composition will help you to develop the sensitivity of your touch on the strings, and to enjoy the resonance of your harp. We will work from the 1724 source – John and William Neals' Colection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes, which I have reconstructed for early Irish harp for you along historically informed lines.

01 Jun

Session 4

Lord Galway (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now we may also work on fleshing out the melody, adding a historically plausible, simple 'lower hand’. We will decide the relative importance of the notes in each phrase, understanding why we might accentuate some rather than others, finally playing with both hands together.

08 Jun

Session 5

Patrick Sarsfield (1 of 2)

The subject of this anonymous elegy is the Earl of Lucan, the military hero on the Jacobite side in the Williamite wars of the 1690s. One of the thousands of ‘wild geese’ forced to leave Ireland for ever when the war was lost, Sarsfield died fighting for the French in 1693. Taking our inspiration from the words, we will work on phrasing and dynamics to create the right atmosphere for a lament for a hero. We will explore the Neals' printed version, making historically informed choices to create a plausible version for our harps.

15 Jun

Session 6

Patrick Sarsfield (2 of 2)

We will recap the work of the previous session. Now we may also work on fleshing out the melody, adding a historically plausible, simple 'lower hand’. We will decide the relative importance of the notes in each phrase, understanding why we might accentuate some rather than others, finally playing with both hands together.

What to Expect

In this course, students will

  • explore the music, history and context of three pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  • learn about historical sources for early Irish harp repertory, and compare different versions of the same tune
  • learn plausible historical accompaniment and ornamentation for Irish harp melodies, based on the latest research into performance practice in the old, pre-1800 tradition
  • have demonstrated, and learn, appropriate posture, hand position, and playing techniques for the early Irish harp
  • develop critical thinking skills around historical (both printed and hand-written manuscript) vs. more modern sources of Irish harp music

Technical Requirements

  • A laptop, desktop or tablet computer; we do not recommend using a phone to participate
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Access to a printer for downloadable course materials
  • Access to the Zoom platform; further information to help you get set up for participating over Zoom will be sent after you have registered

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