Caid é sin do’n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó

In the 1790s, Edward Bunting made a transcription of the tune of Caid é sin, live from the playing of the traditional Irish harper Denis O’Hampsey.

In this blog post we will briefly go through what we know about this live transcription notation and what it might tell us about traditional Irish harp performance style.

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“…George Jackson when he was stringing my Harp…”

In the early 1900s, the Belfast carpenter William Savage and his younger brother Robert made a very decorative copy of the medieval Brian Boru (Trinity College) harp. When the harp was finished, brass wire strings were fitted by George Jackson.

George Jackson had learned harp from Patrick Murney, in a lineage going back to the 18th century Irish harpers. I recently started to wonder if some of Jackson’s strings might still be on the harp.

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Codladh an Óigfhir

In Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 49/45/054/f22r, Edward Bunting has written what looks like a live transcription notation from a traditional harper informant, of the tune of Codladh an Óigfhir.

This tune has had tons written about it, connecting it to Danny Boy, but in this blog post we are going to pretty much ignore that and concentrate on Bunting’s live transcription notation, because for this Old Irish harp Transcriptions Project what we are really interested in is not so much the tunes themselves, but what the initial live transcription notations can tell us about old Irish harp performance style and idiom.

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Lady Letty Burke

Edward Bunting made what looks like a live field transcription of the tune of Lady Letty Burke, from the harper Denis O’Hampsey in the 1790s. In this blog post we will have a look at Edward Bunting’s notations, and think about what they can tell us about the old Irish harp tradition.

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Uilleacán Dubh O

In the 1790s, Edward Bunting wrote what looks to me like a live transcription notation of the tune of Uilleacán Dubh O into one of his wee collecting pamphlets. In this post we are going to look at the manuscript page, and try to work out what it is and what we can find out about it by collating against other information.

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Burns’s March

Burns’s March is one of the first tunes taught to young harpers. In this blog post I am going to describe the live transcription notations that we have from Irish harper tradition-bearers in the late 18th and early 19th century. Then I will try and find derived works that give us contextual information and attribution tags. And finally I will look at some independent versions or variants in other sources.

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Codladh an tSionnaigh

Edward Bunting wrote both tune and text of the song Codladh an tSionnaigh into his little collecting pamphlets, some time in the 1790s. He also wrote a fragment of an instrumental variation into a different collecting pamphlet, apparently at a different place and time.

These notations are very interesting. The song tune and lyrics especially is perhaps unique in Bunting’s manuscripts. In this post we will look at what he has put in his collecting pamphlets, and collate this against other versions of the song, and try to say something useful about the tune and Bunting’s notation of it.

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Rambling Boy

The past 25 or so tunes I have written up here have mostly had some kind of attribution to the harper and singer, Charles Byrne. Checking my Tune List Spreadsheet, I think Rambling Boy is the last Byrne-attributed tune that I have not yet written up, and so this post marks the end of this Byrne series. I think Byrne is very interesting, but I don’t know how useful he is for my Harp Transcriptions project, since I think he may have been mainly singing for Bunting, not playing the harp so much.

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