When I started my Old Irish Harp Transcription project, one of my aims was to move away from what had been happening before, where people focussed in on particularly interesting, curious or unusual tunes, and studied them intensively while kind of ignoring the broad context of other tunes in the manuscripts.
However, now that I have pretty much gone through all of the “ordinary” harp tune transcriptions I am just left with those unusual ones. I did consider ignoring them but I think there is value in dealing with them. But I think I have to do them a bit differently.
So, for this tune we will discuss four aspects of it. First, we will look at its position in the manuscript, which raises some important questions about Bunting’s collecting process. Then, because it is one of the most studied old Irish harp tunes, we will briefly consider what other people have written about it. Thirdly, we will talk a little about parallels in other traditions. And finally we will think about it in the context of a pentatonic modes analysis.
Continue reading Féachain Gléis
The Coolin, or the Lady of the Desert, has been discussed a lot by Irish harp scholars over the years, most recently by Siobhán Armstrong in her PhD thesis (Middlesex 2020). However it is an incredibly muddled subject. I am not sure if we have one tune or two; I am not sure if the titles are connected or garbled; the live transcription notation from a harper looks like it has been heavily over-written and edited, so that we cannot see the initial live transcription dots; and in general this is the kind of problem notation that I have been silently skipping over in my Old Irish Harp Transcriptions Project.
However we should try to begin untangling some of these threads, and try to say something useful about all this.
Continue reading Coolin, or Lady of the Desert
In Edward Bunting’s transcription pamphlets from the 1790s, there is a page which has a whole load of dots and titles that I don’t understand. On this post we will look at this page and see if we can make any sense out of any of it.
Continue reading Mystery Dots
In the 1790s, Edward Bunting made a notation of a tune titled “Dawn of Day”, apparently as a live transcription from the playing of the old Irish harp tradition-bearer Denis O’Hampsey.
In this post we will have a look at the live transcription notation and try to say something useful about it.
Continue reading Dawn of Day
In one of Edward Bunting’s little collecting pamphlets from the 1790s, there is a two-page opening containing a live transcription notation and expanded neater version, or the tune of John Jones. You can see the two pages online. They are Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 164/162/171/f80v and page 165/163/172/f81r
Continue reading John Jones
Some time in the 1790s, Edward Bunting made what looks like a live transcription of the tune of True love is a tormenting pain, from the playing of the elderly Irish harper and tradition-bearer, Denis O’Hampsey.
The page with the live transcription notation on is now Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 p.160/158/167/f78v.
In this post we will look briefly at the live transcription notation, to see what it can tell us about traditional Irish harp performance style and idiom.
Continue reading True love is a tormenting pain
In the 1790s, Edward Bunting made a transcription of the tune of Cad 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.
Continue reading Cad é sin do’n té sin nach mbaineann sin dó
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.
Continue reading Codladh an Óigfhir
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.
Continue reading Lady Letty Burke
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.
Continue reading Uilleacán Dubh O