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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:50 pm 
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Something I've always pondered...there were no recording devices back then...did Carolan write music notation? Did he have a travelling partner who did? If he composed the tune on his deathbed, how was it "recorded?"...I know yee may not know the answer, it's just something that has always "confused" me...anyone else ever ponder such things?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:19 am 
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Wikipedia has a fairly good summary, which would at least get you going on this.

Now, bear in mind that the following is taken directly from Wikipedia, as the article exists today, 2nd January 2019. So, it has whatever bias and perspective the various contributors may have put on it. If anyone takes issue with it, take it up with Wikipedia, not me. :o

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Most of Carolan's compositions were not published or even written down in his lifetime. They survived in the repertoires of fiddlers, pipers, and the last of the old Irish harper/singers. They were collected and published during the late 18th century and beyond, largely beginning with the work of Edward Bunting and his assistants in 1792.[7]

A small sampling of Carolan's music was published during his lifetime. One of the first such publications was in Neale's A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes ..., Dublin, 1724.[8]

The definitive work containing all 214 of Carolan's tunes as identified by Donal O'Sullivan (1893–1973) is the 1958 edition (2001 reprint) of Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper.[9] Partial lyrics (and all known sources of lyrics) are mentioned in the text description of each piece, but are not matched to the written music. O'Sullivan does not include any of the handful of alleged Carolan songs that he considers to be erroneous, such as: "Dermott O'Doud", "Planxty Miss Burke", and "The Snowy-Breasted Pearl".[10]

A comprehensive edition of Carolan's Songs & Airs containing new arrangements for harp of all 214 airs, along with an additional 12 airs from the Appendix of the 2001 edition[11] was published by Caitríona Rowsome in 2011.[12] This book includes an instance of each of Carolan's undisputed surviving lyrics and metrically sets the lyrics note-for-note to the sheet music airs. Each of the 226 harp settings in this book are played by the author on a neo-Irish harp (book and 4-CD set). This is the first time that all of Carolan's lyrics have been set to the airs and has been welcomed as "a task that has needed doing for many years".[13] The 4-CD recording is of harp music without vocals, but the book includes the sheet music for interested singers. Some English translations are also attempted, despite the author not being a translation scholar.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:26 pm 
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Thanks Ben! Someone must have had a really good ear to get his Farewell to music...only had one shot t get it...lol...amazing how his music survived at all!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:46 pm 
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The Farewell has got to be his most poignant piece ever.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:41 pm 
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It certainly is :) That's what perplexes me...that there must have been some musical genius hanging outside the door, learned this difficult tune by ear, then notates it for history...I would love to know how that happened...I would love to be able to time travel and follow Carolan around for a bit.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:58 pm 
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I think it is a very shaky notion that O'Carolan's Farewell was not composed over some period of time. This would have served as his Memoriam and a musical epitaph. I should think he would very much want it to live after him. The Granard Belfast Harper's Festival of 1792 had an old harper, 96 years old, variously known as Denis O'Hempsey, or Denis Hampson, in attendance. He was no great fan of his contemporary, O'Carolan, and would not play any of his compositions. This, of course, is not to the point, but what is, is that he alluded to a formal mnemonic system current with the old harpers to record and transmit their compositions. This is not really all that remarkable in pre-literate cultures for the transmission of complex cultural intellectual works. The MacCrimmon bagpiping family used just such a system to pass on pibroch, and it is speculated that this system was an adaptation and extension of an older system out of the harping tradition.

Bob

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:00 pm 
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This is the first version I ever heard of it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS70FKVfy-Q

Patrick Ball on the wire harp. Enchanting. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:08 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
...he alluded to a formal mnemonic system current with the old harpers to record and transmit their compositions. This is not really all that remarkable in pre-literate cultures for the transmission of complex cultural intellectual works. The MacCrimmon bagpiping family used just such a system to pass on pibroch, and it is speculated that this system was an adaptation and extension of an older system out of the harping tradition.

Canntaireachd, it's called, and it's not lost yet but still in use among GHB players today. I know one fellow for sure who uses it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:39 am 
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Quote:
I would love to be able to time travel and follow Carolan around for a bit.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:06 am 
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Wow! Thanks for that Mr. G! Deffo going to pick up this book!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:12 pm 
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For a more historical perpective you might seek out a copy of Annals of the Irish Harpers by Charlotte Milligan Fox, I found my copy, published 1911, in a used book shop. Try your local library or Inter-library Loan Service. It was out of print when I found mine, but it may now haven been scanned digital or otherwise republished. It gives an account of the Granard Festivals and Bunting's part in the 1792 Festival.

Bob

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:43 pm 
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Thank you Bob! I'm really enjoying the new to me :) , info! I will look for it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:57 pm 
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This is a very interesting issue. The John and William Neal collection, as alluded to by Ben, has some Carolan tunes in it. There's a version of the O'Rourkes' Feast with variations. There's another tune, I can't remember which one, which is attributed to Signor Carolini. I assume this is in reference to Carolan's esteem* for Corelli. There are different versions of some of his tunes, as one might expect, although not as different as most tunes of that era with unknown composers. The O'Sullivan book is generally the referent authority, but those differ some from the Neal collection, which was AFAIK the only one published during Carolan's life. Unfortunately when I had the Neal book on ILL, I had to pay to make copies, so I didn't copy most of the Carolan tunes in it.

In reference to the original question, Carolan did have a bit of a system for the staff, in which the buttons of his coat served as the bars and the spaces between the buttons the spaces.

*I've also read that he held Corelli somewhat in disdain. Carolan's Concerto was written either as an homage or a parody of a Corelli piece that Carolan had heard performed.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:38 pm 
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chas wrote:
*I've also read that he held Corelli somewhat in disdain. Carolan's Concerto was written either as an homage or a parody of a Corelli piece that Carolan had heard performed.

Judging by my reaction to it, I vote that the piece was no compliment.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:47 am 
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Chas, I read a slightly different version of O'Carolans interaction with Diabelli's music. Someone played an excerpt of a concerto by Diabelli for him, presumably on a spinet or a virginal, but with the kicker that some 'clinkers' in the chord progression were inserted. It is also possible that whoever performed the piece for him 'flubbed' it up. Sylvia Marlowe remarked that Diabelli can be challenging on an early harpsichord.

Bob

Edit: oops, Corelli :love: Or to paraphrase from the play 'Oslo', 'Iceberg, Roseberg. . .what's the difference!' :tomato:

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Last edited by an seanduine on Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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