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Special Feature

Irish Music

Terrence Farrell   *   Guitarist

   Terrence Farrell with Guitar and Irish Harp
     

Listen to MP3 samples of Irish music played by guitarist Terrence Farrell:
   Danny Boy  Irish Folk Song
    from the CD Love Songs for Guitar
 
  Farrell's Jig  Terrence Farrell
    from the CD Travels with my Spanish Guitar
 
  Irish Lament  Terrence Farrell
    from the CD Travels with my Spanish Guitar

 


My repertoire includes a few traditional Irish songs, as well as original compositions based on my Irish heritage and inspired by my travels in Ireland. I had the great pleasure to tour Ireland for the United States State Department presenting American music and culture. In the process I was presented with an experience that will not soon be forgotten. A few of these songs are presented on this special Irish Guitar Music feature page.

Historically, the three instruments that come to mind when one thinks of Irish music are the pipes, the penny whistle and the harp. I'll confine this discussion to the harp because that is where a substantial amount of the music comes from and also, this is the music that best transcribes to the guitar. Musical "jobs" of yore in Ireland fell to the harpists. They would travel from manor house to manor house, earn their keep for a while, write a few ditties dedicated to the lord of the manor, and then, before their welcome was used up, travel to the next manor house or village faire. As it turns out many of them were blind. That probably had to do with the fact that there were very few other jobs a blind person could do in a basically agrarian and very poor society. Out of the harpist rich tradition came a wealth of enduring music. Common dedications were to those of the manor house born and of course, to whiskey!

The Irish folk song Danny Boy, also known as Londonderry Air, has become an anthem of the overseas Irish for their homeland. It appears there is some doubt about whether it is an Irish song at all. (It might have migrated from America or much worse...might actually be English!) But, most believe the melody to have first appeared in Bunting's book, "A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland". Danny Boy is apparently one of 100 songs set to the same melody. I have no idea if that is actually true, but it does seem to me that there might be a wee bit of exaggeration.

In the early 80's I toured Ireland, where I found that the Irish, like a Greek named Zorba, dance their troubles away. This was the inspiration for Farrell's Jig, written in the grand tradition of the Emerald Isle.

The Irish Lament, what can I say? The Irish part of me is as morose as anybody from the Emerald Isle (especially after a couple of whiskeys accompanied by that Irish food in a glass, Guinness). The Irish vacillate between two basic moods. One, sad and self-absorbed, probably has to do with the gray weather. The other is the twinkle in the eye and the gift of the gab. The Irish must have invented the lament; it would be lamentable if they didn't! And after a jig, a pint and another jig, one usually does have something to lament.

Terrence Farrell   

 

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