For those of you that don't know me, I'm Enda Seery a traditional Irish musician from Co. Westmeath, Ireland. I'm currently on the Masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance course at the Irish World Academy, University of Limerick. I have been on an extended Xmas holiday for the past while and I have been composing alot. I thought I would give some views on composing traditional Irish music.

For me, anyone can compose music, but to be a composer you must immerse yourself in your chosen genre of music. Of course for me, thats traditional Irish. Even the oldest of tunes have to have had a composer. When I compose I always keep the tune very much in the traditional idiom. That's what I was brought up on listening and learning from great musicians like John Joe Gannon and Davy Joe Fallon here in Co. Westmeath. People have said that my tunes don't sound like 'new tunes' but that this is a good thing. I'm flattered by these comments but that's what I want to achieve when composing: keep the tune traditional whilst having a nice flow and rhythm to the tune.

I would like to say that I have no problem with some of the more modern, contemporary compositions but are they traditional? I don't think so. But's its a sort of a grey area for another day's discussion. All I will say is for me, our traditional Irish music is a dance music, meant to be danced to and listened to with our ears and feet.

Composers I like are people like Paddy O'Brien(Tipperary), Sean Ryan(Fiddle) Charlie Lennon, Vincent Broderick, Richard Dwyer etc... composers and musicians who concentrate(d) on the traditional flow and melody of the tune.

How, when, where do I compose? Well it can happen at anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Sometimes some notes or a particular melody will just come into my head and I will hum the melody and record it onto my phone or dictaphone. I never write down the notes first. I will compose the tune and later write it down for my own records and teaching purposes. Tunes have come into my head whilst driving, in bed, teaching a class, even at mass! The key is try and keep the melody and record it as quickly as possible. I compose alot at home where my instruments are close at hand. I also love walking around the beautiful coutryside in Co. Westmeath where a particular melody of a jig, reel, hornpipe, slow air, polka etc... might come to me.

I agree with the late Ed Reavy who said he needed to be in a particular good mood to compose. Ultimately though, one needs to be listening to and playing music all the time. My first album 'The Winding Clock' featured seven of own compositions, 5 jigs, 1 reel and 1 slow air but I can tell you that my next album release will have many more, around 15-16 new compositions, about half of the album. Albums cost money so bear with me! Also I am currently compiling my compositions for a future publication and collection, entitled 'Tunes of the Streams': Irish Traditional Music Compositions by Enda Seery. Streams is a reference to my home village of Streamstown.

Feel free to check out my website for info on my music. Let's keep the tradition going strong!


The youtube video here is my hornpipe 'Langton's of Kilkenny' which achieved 3rd place in the 'Newly Composed Dance Tunes' competition at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2011.

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Comment by Chris McEwen on January 29, 2020 at 3:29

Hey Enda, I have been learning traditional Irish tunes on fiddle since 1994. Finally, once in 2018, and now three times since new year's 2020, I have found myself needing to compose tunes. A reel, a jig, and two hornpipes. I wonder if I might send them to you for your thoughts on their musical merit. (No holds barred.) I don't want to put my own friends in the position of delivering a difficult evaluation!

Comment by Baxter Labatos on January 17, 2012 at 20:29

I hope to read more posst form you Enda :) keep em comming.


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