Mystical and Contemplative

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Amergin
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Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Amergin »

This might be perhaps an odd question, but what are some pieces of Irish (but also Scottish, particularly Scottish Gaelic/Western Isles/Highlands) music that you feel possess either a mystical or contemplative quality? I ask because I have a great interest in general esotericism and/or mysticism and also a love of art and music which possess mystical or contemplative qualities, be it a Gothic cathedral, a Chinese landscape painting, or music which possess those qualities. For examples of the latter, I am particularly fond of the Chinese guqin, of Japanese Zen shakuhachi, Iranian tanbur/tar/setar music, Indian classical music, and various sorts of Western plainchant and polyphony.

As one might guess by my merely being on this forum, I have a great love of the traditional music of the so-called "Celtic fringe" and particularly that of Ireland and Scotland. Thus it is no surprise that I would be interested in the previously mentioned mystical or contemplative music that exists in Irish and Scottish traditional music (and Welsh, Breton, Cornish, etc.) Two books which touch on this interest (one of which I've read, the other I mean to) are "Music and the Celtic Otherworld" by Karen Ralls-MacLeod and "The Otherworld: Music & Song from Irish Tradition." I've heard a variety of airs, Sean Nos songs, and pibrochs that I personally felt to be mystical and/or contemplative in nature and am looking for more.

So are there any tunes that you feel fit the bill and could recommend to me? As of now I am learning the low whistle and pennywhistle, so music that is particularly suited to those instruments interests me even more. I appreciate any input I can get on what admittedly might be a bit of an odd question.
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by s1m0n »

The gaelic air that provides the tune of Morning has Broken springs to mind, and it works on whistle.
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis
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Amergin
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Amergin »

Perhaps rather than simply ask a question which is sufficiently vague and maybe a bit subjective, I can add some examples of stuff I already like and am looking for more of:

--This performance of An raibh tú ag an gcarraig?/The mother's delight by Martin Dowling

--John McSherry playing the May Morning Dew

--Cadineadh Eoin Rua from an album by Norin Ni Riain

--A fiddle pibroch tune titled Lament for the Unborn by Bonnie Rideout

--Lament for Mr. P.J. Ross performed by Melinda Crawford

--This tune from the soundtrack to the film "The Secret of Roan Inish" entitled Fiona's Walk

I suppose the above gives perhaps a bit of the gist of what I am seeking. I am not sure if any of the tunes are really traditional or not, but Talbert St. Claire's album "Tears Of The Forest - Mystical Journey" seems to be up my alley in this regard as well.

Thanks in advance for any further help.
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by s1m0n »

Davy Spillane's low whistle & pipes playing Illyrian Dawn on Andy Irvine's East Wind CD ought to appeal to you, then. It's the spookiest whistle track I know.
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by An Draighean »

Amergin wrote:... what are some pieces of Irish (but also Scottish, particularly Scottish Gaelic/Western Isles/Highlands) music that you feel possess either a mystical or contemplative quality?
Most any slow air on pipes, especially flat sets. Some of my favorites:

The Green Fields of Canada, as played by Mick O'Brien on a B set.

Port Na BPucai, as played by Ronan Browne on either a B or Bb set (forget which).

The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow, as played by David Power on his Eighteen Moloney flat set.

An Bonnán Buí, as played by Brian Mac Namara on his C set.

Róisín Dubh, as played by many but especially as sung by Seosamh Ó hÉanaí.

The Wild Geese, as played (on harp) by Eilís Lavelle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXjKdJAolJk
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by plunk111 »

I like "Song of the Books" and "Cape Clear" in this category. Lots of Carolan stuff fits, too.

Pat
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by ytliek »

Enya
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Amergin
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Amergin »

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll look into them. Speaking of Seosamh Ó hÉanaí, I am a fan of this one and this one so of course am interested in anything similar.
Enya
Can't say I've ever been a fan of Enya, but she certainly seems popular so there must be some appeal.
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by ytliek »

Amergin wrote:Can't say I've ever been a fan of Enya, but she certainly seems popular so there must be some appeal.
Mystical and Contemplative
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by benhall.1 »

ytliek wrote:
Amergin wrote:Can't say I've ever been a fan of Enya, but she certainly seems popular so there must be some appeal.
Mystical and Contemplative
I must admit, I just find her stuff mushy. Still, horses for course and all. Yvonne Casey fits the bill for me, especially in person, but this will do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqJjrF6Q2g0
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Mladen »

Some great recommendations here :)

Allow me chime in with Ger Fahy and his lovely tune called "Magh Seola".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oIing0ocLc

Is it too late to mention Loreena McKennitt? Her music probably epitomises the qualities you mentioned.
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by benhall.1 »

Mladen wrote:Some great recommendations here :)

Allow me chime in with Ger Fahy and his lovely tune called "Magh Seola".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oIing0ocLc

Is it too late to mention Loreena McKennitt? Her music probably epitomises the qualities you mentioned.
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Er ... OK then. I'll bite. :o

I don't see those things as contemplative. They come across to me as being merely saccharine. Too cloyingly and knowingly folksy, with way too much in the way of electronic effects for me.

There! That's got that out of my system! :)
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by s1m0n »

Mladen wrote: Is it too late to mention Loreena McKennitt? Her music probably epitomises the qualities you mentioned.
Or too early. Personally, I'd file McKennitt under "schmaltz", which is about as far from mystical as it gets. But, if that's the sort of thing you like...
And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Mladen »

benhall.1 wrote: Er ... OK then. I'll bite. :o

I don't see those things as contemplative. They come across to me as being merely saccharine. Too cloyingly and knowingly folksy, with way too much in the way of electronic effects for me.

There! That's got that out of my system! :)
Well, seeing as Enya was mentioned (with tongue in cheek, I hope), I could not fail to mention Ms McKennitt :lol:
Contemplative... perhaps not, but if Gregorian chanting, coquettish dashes of near eastern influences, and lots of reverb don't qualify as mystical, I don't know what does :P
Or were you referring to Fahy's tune?
s1m0n wrote: Or too early. Personally, I'd file McKennitt under "schmaltz", which is about as far from mystical as it gets. But, if that's the sort of thing you like...
Seeing as we are in the Irish Trad forum, I can see why you would say that. In fact I agree with Ben's designation (too cloyingly and knowingly folksy). However, having said all of this, I do have to say I enjoy her music, not necessarily for the commercial qualities advertised and perceived as aethereal/new-age/Celtic-mystique kind of thing (or by you as schmaltz), but for the music itself.

Back on topic:
Farewell to Glasgow, based on an air called Fagail Glaschu. Not sure if this fits the bill completely, but it works great for low whistle.
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Amergin
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Re: Mystical and Contemplative

Post by Amergin »

Thanks for the further recommendations.

While the John McSherry performance I mentioned has electronics in it, to my ears it was used well, whereas I must agree with other posters that I am not so much into Enya or anything that feels too modern (despite the low whistle being a modern instrument) or worse New Age in the more negative sense of the word. I suppose what one person finds mystical and/or contemplative might not necessarily hold true for someone else, but in my case while I am open to listening to anything, I am more seeking for stuff that is at once mystical/contemplative, traditional, and as close to what one might call "high art" as possible (Ceol Mor categorically fulfills this role but for me other forms of music, like Sean Nos song, do as well.)

For me Turlough O' Carolan certainly fulfills the role when performed properly. Say for example Dearbhail Finnegan playing Bridget's Cruise:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubySaWX-jzI

Or Máire Ní Chathasaigh performing O'Carolan's Farewell to Music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs-J-Io8_q0
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