Lc Music Essays Examples

 Leaving Cert Music

THE  HARP
The word "harp" comes from Anglo-Saxon, Old German, and Old Norse words whose root means "to pluck". By the 13th century the term was being applied specifically to the triangular harp. The earliest Gaelic term for a wire-strung instrument was cruit. The harp isn't peculiar to Ireland but it has existed here for over 1000 years and is our national emblem. Evidence from the 12th Century of a Harp engraved on the wall of Ardmore Cathedral, Co. Waterford, confirm how long the instrument has been here, but little is known of the music that was played at that time. The earliest surviving harp from Ireland, the Brian Boru Harp, is on display in Trinity College is one of Ireland's national treasures and is the harp from which the national symbol of Ireland is copied.
In the Middle ages (up to the 15th Century), the Harper was an important person in Irish society. No Gaelic monarch or high noble of the period would venture far outside the castle walls without his entourage. This entourage included an entertainment committee, consisting of a bard (known as a file) who composed elaborate Gaelic verse, a vocalist (reacaire) who read or sang the poems, and a harper (cruitire) who provided musical accompaniment. Tunes that they composed in honour of their patrons were called Planxties. These times were truly a Golden Age for harpers; they were viewed as indispensable by their lords and patrons, and treated as highly valued members of the household. Some harps were magnificently carved, and studded with precious gems.
In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I issued a proclamation to hang Irish harpists and destroy their instruments to prevent insurrection. In the 17th Century, the period of the Penal laws, where Irish culture in general was oppressed, the Harp went into further decline. Oliver Cromwell took the persecution of harpers to new extremes. In the 1650s, Cromwell ordered all harps and organs throughout Ireland to be destroyed. In Dublin alone, the authorities seized 500 harps and burned them. Harpers in cities large and small were forbidden to congregate. By the late 18th century it was clear that traditional Irish harpers were nearly extinct. Because harp music had always been handed down orally, very little of it has been preserved. The most important attempt to save the music was made in 1792. In order to encourage and preserve the old harping tradition, a festival was held in Belfast and newspaper advertisements invited all Irish harpers to come and play for cash prizes. Only ten harpers, ranging in age from fifteen to ninety seven, could be found.
A nineteen year old Armagh church organist named Edward Bunting was hired to notate the music. Though much music has been lost we owe Denis Hempson one of the old Harpers, and Edward Bunting a debt of gratitude for preserving for us the last remnants of this once proud tradition. Bunting became the first archivist of Irish folk tunes, and he made it his life's work to travel the length and breadth of Ireland collecting old traditional tunes that were on the verge of disappearing forever. In 1840, the publication of his landmark book The Ancient Music of Ireland saved hundreds of classic Irish airs from extinction. Bunting had so much enthusiasm during the festival that he continued to collect traditional tunes throughout his life, publishing three collections, in 1797, 1809, and 1840. Bunting collected not only the music, but much lore and technical information from the harpers. All of the surviving O'Carolan melodies date to these works.
Little is known of the old style of playing. It is known players used long fingernails wheras today they use the pads of the fingers. The old Irish Harp had wire strings and the players had to use a complicated system of damping because of the long lasting resonance. 

This is some Irish music notes I made up, hope they are a help :) I have written out some of the essay questions although not all of them but there is a lot done.


Irish Music



Traditional Features                                         Non traditional features


Solo                                                                            Group performances


No harmony                                                               Harmony


Ornamentation                                                           Accompaniment


Flattened 7th                                                        Non traditional instruments


Wide range                                                                Noted music


Monophonic                                                               Homophonic


No dynamics                                                              Fusions


Not expressive                                                          Syncopated rhythm


Repeat final note                                                       Dynamics


Traditional instruments                                             No ornamentation


Aural tradition – passed down by ear


Modal keys and gapped scales


Form dictates what way the dances go



Traditional Instruments                                       Non traditional instruments


Fiddle                                                                         Guitar


Flute                                                                            Mandolin


Tin whistle                                                                  Piano/keyboard


Uilleann pipes                                                            Synthesiser


Concertina                                                                 Bouzouki


Melodeon/button accordion                                        Drums


Harp                                                                            Harpsichord


Piano accordion                                                        Orchestral instruments


Harmonica                                                                 Ethnic instruments


Bodhrán


Bones


Spoon


Tenor banjo



Musicians:
Harp                            - Derek Bell, Laoise Kelly, Máire Ní Chathasaigh.


Fiddle                         - Frankie Gavin, Tommy Peoples, Paddy Glackin


Flute                            - Matt Molloy, Seamus Tansey


Whistle                       - Mary Bergin, Geraldine Cotter, Paddy Maloney


Uilleann Pipes           - Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Pady Maloney


Bodhrán                     - Kevin Conneff, Mel Mercier


Sean Nós


Solo                                                    Free rhythm   


Unaccompanied                                No dynamics


In irish                                                 Glottal stop


Ornamentation                                   Modal tonality


Melismas                                           Nasal tone


Glissando/sliding                              Regional Differences


Examples:   Úna Bhán


                        Anach Cuain


                        An Droimeann Donn Dílis


                        Caoine na dTír Mhuire


Regional Differences


Donegal

Scottish influence

Narrow range

Wider range

Regular rhythm

Nasal tone

Vibrato, pronounced nasal quality

Least Ornamenation

Lots of ornamentation, very melismatic

Rhythmic variation

Singers: Lillis Ó Laoire,

Salí Gallagher

Singers: Róisín Elsafty, Seosamh Ó hÉanaí

Singers: Iarla O’Lionair, Séamus Begley



Irish Dance Music



Type

Time

Rhythm

Tempo

Info

Example

Jig:

Double

   Single

   Slip jig

6

8

6

8

9

8

Fast and lively

Most native, some English,

Most from 18th & 19th century

The Ten penny Bit

Smash the Windows

Hardiman the fiddler

Reel

4   or   2

4         2

Fast and flowing

Most common,

Scottish origin

Bonnie Kate

Cooley’s reel

Hornpipe

4

4

Slower than reel

English origin, strong accent on 1st and 3rd  beats

The harvest home

Rights of man

Polka

2

4

Fast

, set dancing in sliabh Luachra

Britches full of stitches

Kerry polka

Slide

12  or  6

 8        8

Fast

 A fast single jig

Denis Murphy’s slide



Song Tradition


  • Sean-nós
  • Ballads (old and new)
  • Macaronic songs (in 2 languages)
  • Anglo-Irish songs


Type of songs


Type

Features

Examples

Love songs

Expressive, often sad

Úna Bhan

She moved through the fair

Laments

About loss, death, eviction, emigration of friend, longing for better times

Anach Chuain

An Mhaighéan Mhara

Drinking songs

Lively rhythm, celebratory, social events

Whiskey in the jar

Preab san Ól

Níl sé ‘na Lá

Working songs

For tasks like working in the fields, kitchen, forge, steady rhythm to match the work

Ding dong Dédero

Amhrán na Cuiginne

Lullabies

Gentle rockinig rhythm, sleep songs,

Deirin Dé

Dún o Shúile

Religious songs

Sorrowful, grief, focus on religious topics, usually slow, not common due to penal laws

Wexford Carol

Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire

Humorous songs

Light hearted, lively rhythm,

The holy ground

An Poc ar Buille

Dandling songs

For small children, bouncy rhythm, repeats words and melody

Dílín Ó Deamhas

Patriotic songs

Ashling – dream/visions song,

Rebel/nationalist and famine songs

Boolavogue

Four Green Fields

Táimse im’ Chodladh

Macronic

Alternates between English and irish, Some patriotic in the irish parts

Siúil a Rúin

One day for Recreation

Ballads

A narrative lyric song, often on political or social life, love, alcohol, emigration,the sea

The Foggy Dew

Finnegan’s Wake

The Croppy Boy

The Fields of Athenry

Anglo-Irish songs

Composed by irish in English language, many are ballads as well

The Last Rose of Summer

The Mountains of Mourne


Essay Topics



All Essay topics and the years they have appeared.


 




Sean Nós


The Term sean nós is used to describe unaccompanied solo singing, usually I the irish language in which the words and the music are of equal importance.


Sean nós is a singing style developed over the centuries in Irish speaking and Gaelic speaking . It has been passed on from generation to generation. The style is deeply rooted in the rhythms of the Gaelic language and in the metres and rhythms of Gaelic poetry.


Songs are sung with free rhythm, the singer speeds up or slows down to suit the words which may sometimes sound distorted. Dynamics are not used. The singer ornaments the tune to convey emotion. No two performances of a song by the same singer will be identical.


Melodic ornamentation used may be melismatic, where a note is replaced by a group of adjacent notes, or intervallic, where additional notes are used to fill intervals between notes in the tune. Rhythmic variation also is common where the notes may be lengthened or shortened. Sean nós singing tends to have a nasal tone quality. Glottal stopping is use which interrupts the flow of air through the wind pipe. Extra meaningless syllable are sometimes added to words and some singers slow down at the end while others speak the final line of the song.


There are three regions associated with sean nós singings; , Donegal and . These are all Gaeltacht areas and each has it’s own distinctive spoken dialect and sean nós style.  In Donegal ornamentation is not use very often and it has a very regular rhythm. Salí Gallagher is a performer of the Donegal sean nós style. In a lot of ornamentation is use and it is very florid. The songs also tend to have a narrower range. Seosamh Ó hÉanaí is a sean nós singer in . The range tends to be much wider in and many use vibrato so it is most similar to classical singing.

The Harping Tradition


The harping tradition in flourished from medieval times until the seventeenth century. It was fostered and developed among the powerful and wealthy Irish and Anglo-Irish families. Harpers were employed along with poets and orators, known as reacoirs, to provide entertainment for the families. As the families acted as patrons to the harpers, they would often have solo pieces, known as planxties, written in their honour by their harper. One famous song is Planxty Kelly. The occupation of a harper was a very prestigious one. The harping tradition was passed on, father to son, for many years and was one of very few viable career options for blind boys at the time. However, after 1600, as the great families went into decline, there was a loss of patronage and harpers were left unemployed. The harping tradition then became a nomadic one, as harpers would travel from county to county, playing for money and food.


There were two styles of harp: the Bardic harp and the Neo-Irish harp. The Bardic harp had between 29 and 31 strings made of wire, which were played with the nails. Usually around 70cm in height with a curved pillar and a hollow soundbox, the Bardic harp was the more resonant of the two. The Neo-Irish harp typically had 34 strings made of nylon or cat gut, which were played with the pads of the fingers. They were taller (about 91cm in height) than the Bardic harp, but less resonant. 


In 1792 the Belfast Harp Festival was setup with the aim of preventing the decline of the harping tradition. It consisted of eleven harpers from the age of 15 to 97, playing pieces in their own particular style. One player that was the light of the day was Denis Hempson, age 97, being the oldest player there. Edward Bunting was commissioned by the Belfast Harp Society to record the lifestyles of the harpers as well as recording and writing down the music from the festival to preserve it for future generations. This method, unlike the oral tradition which had existed up until then, did not allow for particular nuances in style and some of these were lost. There was a harping revival in the second half of the twentieth century. The role of the harp as a traditional instrument was led by Máire Ní Chathasaigh, who had solo albums such as “The New Strung Harp” and Laoise Kelly who release the album “Just Harp”


Seán Ó Riada:


Use for Irish composer

Sean O Riada (1931-1971) was born in and grew up in Bruff, Co. , where he learned to play the traditional fiddle. He studied music in University College Cork. He also learned to play piano and played it in both jazz and dance bands. He was assistant Director of music in Radio Éireann until he left for in 1955. After a further study in , where he became involved with Jazz and Greek musicians, he was appointed Musical Director of the Abby Theatre in in 1957 and also returned to work with Radio Eireann. O Riada first came to prominence in 1959 when he was commissioned by Gael Linn to write the Music for the movie ‘Mise Eire’. In 1963 O Riada took up a post lecturing in Music at , , and he continued to work there until his death in 1971.


Throughout his life O Riada was a much renowned Irish Music Composer. But he also composed Classical music. He was also a very talented Bodhran player – giving this instrument a new lease of life in Irish Music. Ó Riada was quite critical of ceilì bands and he formed a “folk orchestra” called Ceoltoirì Chulann in 1960. He wanted to create a popular audience for traditional music and give it the dignity it deserved. He hoped that his new band could revolutionize the arrangement and performance of Irish Music. There imaginative arrangements involve interweaving melodies a classical-style harmonies.


The bodhrán had been seen as a primitive rhythm instrument but once O’Riada use it in Ceoltóirí Chualann is became a mainstream traditional Irish instrument in many groups. He also wanted to revive the 18th century Irish Harp music so he played the harpsichord in order to replicate the sound. Despite not giving many concerts they had a large following. Their last performance was recorded on the album “O’Riada sa Gaiety”. When the group broke up in 1969 many of them joined The Chieftains, whose style was greatly influenced by O’Riada.


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