Broderip & Wilkinson, the Compositions of Carolan

One of the source books used by Donal O’Sullivan for his Carolan in 1958 is the enthusiastically titled A Favourite Collection of the so much admired old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard. Set for the harpsichord, violin, and German-flute, published by John Lee in Dublin. There is no date on this book, and O’Sullivan suggests 1780.

I have never actually seen a copy of this John Lee edition used by Donal O’Sullivan; I assume it is this one at the National Library of Ireland (though the catalogue says it is lacking its title page). On my Sources page at earlygaelicharp.info I listed other editions or reprints of this book, of which there seem to be rather a lot. None of them are dated and no-one seems to know which was first, or who was responsible for assembling and editing the collection. My understanding is that at this time there was no copyright in Ireland, so as soon as a book was published, other publishers could rattle off their own editions.

Southampton University Library uploaded a large combined album of sheet music to archive.org three and a half years ago, but I never saw it up until now. Buried in the middle of a whole load of piano scores is the Broderip & Wilkinson edition of our book. They seem to have been active from around 1799 to 1808; The NLI catalogue suggests this edition was published c.1804.

There are “issues” with this edition. Perhaps most pressingly, Broderip and Wilkinson don’t give the tune names, only numbers. Even more irritatingly, they have changed the order of the tunes so they don’t even match the numbering scheme I have been using based on the Hime edition.

I will go into my Carolan Tunes Collation Spreadsheet and add a column for the B&W numbers, so that you can navigate your way around the facsimile.

Carolan’s original harp bass

Carolan’s tunes had no base to them originally, as we have been informed by the late Keane Fitzgerald, a native of Ireland, and a good judge of music, who had often seen and heard old Carolan perform. It was only after his decease, in 1738, that his tunes were collected and set for the harpsichord, violin, and German flute, with a base, Dublin, folio, by his son, who published them in London by subscription, in 1747.

Abraham Rees, The Cyclopaedia; or, universal dictionary of arts, sciences and literature. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1819. Volume 17, (unpaginated, under ‘Harp’)

“Traditional Music in Ireland”

I remember Ben Bagby taking a text describing African mbira players, and using it to get an inspiring description of what medieval harp music might be like. (‘Imagining the early medieval harp’, in A Performer’s guide to medieval music, ed. Ross Duffin, Indiana University Press, 2000, p.340-3)

So today I done the same with this text from Tomás Ó Canainn, Traditional music in Ireland, Routlege and Kegan Paul, London, 1978, p.87-90

The square brackets are where I have removed all the pipe-specific words and terms. In our minds we can insert harp references, so that we can try to read this as a guide to how to play Irish harp. Continue reading “Traditional Music in Ireland”

Examples of Irish Melody

In my book Progressive Lessons, I included a full size full colour facsimile of Edward Bunting’s loose sheet titled “Examples of Irish Melody”. These settings of the three beginners’ tunes are interestingly different from the ones we have from Denis O’Hampsey and Patrick Quin, and I have been using them more and more in my teaching.

It is very interesting to work through these settings with complete beginners in my classes, as well as discussing the implications with my established students. It really feels like a proper system for playing the Irish harp in the old Gaelic tradition is starting to emerge.

Continue reading Examples of Irish Melody

The Cambridge 48 – an early 17th century composition

“But Cambridge forty-eight, for many years, was the greatest peal that was rang or invented” (Tintinnalogia p.2)

In Duckworth’s Tintinnalogia, published in 1668, he gives the full text of “three old peals on five bells, which (though rejected in these days yet) in former times were much in use” (p.15-17). I am interested in these three as rare testimony of the state of change ringing in its true infancy in the early to mid 17th century.

Continue reading The Cambridge 48 – an early 17th century composition