I thought it would perhaps be interesting to let members contribute details of any Carolan tunes they may be in the process of learning. Since starting this group I have been finding jewel after jewel amongst his tunes and many of them now have "must learn" written beside them! There are so many smashing pieces that I'm hearing for the first time, I hardly know where to start.

I've recently put together whistle versions of Bridget Cruise (3), Mervyn Pratt and George Brabazon (2). I have also been "brushing up" a couple that I learned a while ago but have not played regularly - O'Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady and Carolan's Draught. All of these make great whistle tunes.

So, over to you............What are you learning at the moment?

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Greetings Mike,

I'm going to relearn his Concerto sometime soon!  I actually knew it and loved playing - oh my - several years ago.  this Group has motivated me to get back to it as soon as I can.  Thanks for the little push!

Hiya,

The Concerto - nothing like jumping in at the deep end. I don't mind telling you that it took me a long time to get that one sorted out, and it still has a life of its own some days! I wish you well with it.

If this group has been even a tiny part of the motivation for you "rolling your sleeves up", I am absolutely delighted.

Many thanks for your response.

Cheers,

Mike
 
Mary Margaret said:

Greetings Mike,

I'm going to relearn his Concerto sometime soon!  I actually knew it and loved playing - oh my - several years ago.  this Group has motivated me to get back to it as soon as I can.  Thanks for the little push!

Hey Mike - yes - The Concerto  never flowed quite as well as some of Carolan's other tunes but I do like working on it - sounds so very much like a harp, doesn't it? Even on fiddle which is what I play.

The leader of our little group wants to start learning Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady with me on flute and him on harp. We start tonight. We also have been playing Carolan's Concerto, but have dropped it for a while. I have a question about tempo. There seems to be a wide variety of interpretation when listening to what others have recorded. Some in our group tend to feel the faster the better, I tend to want to slow down slightly to get a little more nuance. I suppose the correct tempo would align with the style of the day, but I have heard some beautiful versions of Carolan's tunes played fairly slowly. The music we found has been notated in 6/8 time which I find really fun and it flows well. 

Hi Danna,

In response to your question on tempo. Lookimg through the book 'Carolan's Concerto is described as "Allegro" in common time and Carolan's Quarrel With The Landlady is given as "Con fuoco" in 6/8. This latter term apparently means "A musical directive to the performer to play a particular passage with vehement energy or fervid emotion". I must admit that I have my own take on speeds and trust my own judgement that if it sounds right, it will do! As you say, there are so many different "takes" on these tunes that there is no hard and fast right or wrong. I think a lot of it boils down to the instruments being played and the types and styles of ornamentation being used. So I would say just find a tempo that suits you and what you are doing the best. Your last sentence is the key - "which I find really fun and it flows well" - that sounds as though it will be perfect to me!

The truth of the matter is that we can't ask Carolan how he played it and so we will never know. So just have fun!

LOL. Thanks, I will. 

Well, a quick update then. I've now given Bridget Cruise (3), Mervyn Pratt and George Brabazon (2) a good "going over" and am moving on. I'm now engaged with Eleanor Plunkett and Squire Woods Lamentation.

 

They are both proving a bit testing at the moment and I'm not getting where I want to be with either of them. It's timing and phrasing that need more work - but I intend persisting. I've also discovered a trend with Eleanor Plunkett that, in one or two versions I've heard, its being played as a 2 part tune. The split is being made at the 6th bar and its then being performed as AA BB AA BB  I suppose you get more tune for your money at that!

 

Tell me, do any of you play it this way or just as a single part tune ? 

I play Eleanor Plunkett as AA BB x3, probably because I learnt it off of a Clannad cd rather than sheet music, and that's how they play it!  It's a particular favourite of mine, I must re-record it at some point as the one on my YouTube is not representative of how I now play it!

One of the next tune's I'm going to tackle oddly enough is 'the Concerto', girding my loins for that one!

Hiya Martin,

 

Good to hear from you again. You know, I think it might be Clannad that I heard doing it that way. I'm not sure I have enough variations up my sleeve to warrent me doing it AA BB x 3. Maybe I need to go back to that one then! To be honest I'm becoming a bit disenchanted with the whistle. Last 3 tunes I've attempted just can't compete with the intonation of a fiddle so it might be time to review what I'm doing and think again, I'm most likely missing something. Don't worry, I've not bought a bow yet ! - more like I'm struggling to get the right dynamics out of the whistle.

 

As for the Concerto, well it does seem to be popular! - take it like you would eat an elephant - one bite at a time, and be ready for it appearing to dive off in strange directions. Then again, that might well just be me! - you'll soon gaffer it, I know you will !

Cheers,

Mike
 
Martin Duffy said:

I play Eleanor Plunkett as AA BB x3, probably because I learnt it off of a Clannad cd rather than sheet music, and that's how they play it!  It's a particular favourite of mine, I must re-record it at some point as the one on my YouTube is not representative of how I now play it!

One of the next tune's I'm going to tackle oddly enough is 'the Concerto', girding my loins for that one!

Not sure I have many variations on it come to think of it - I just like to bore people to death!  It's funny that you compare your whistle intonation to that of the fiddle as I often play a tune and then try and get it sounding more like it does on a whistle or pipes! 

The concerto is soon beckoning - I've got a couple more reels I want to work on first, The Salamanco & The Morning Dew, as well as getting The Silver Spear and Maid Behind the Bar up to speed in a set.  Then it's on to the concerto!

 

I've just moved on again and am reasonably happy that I now have unnamed tune 180 "in the bag". I had loads of trouble with the second half of the "B" music and it took quite a bit of work to get it to a point where I was pleased with it. The problems were related to me playing it in G on a D whistle and there being a C sharp and and F natural in it.  It also does a fair bit of "flitiing about" between the 2 octaves. I'm glad I stuck with it though as its been good experience. Its a great little set dance style tune in 6/8 and goes with a real swing.

The last two I learned were his Farewell to Music, and O' Carolan's Draught.

Not sure where to go next, but that's where your youtube archive comes in handy!

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