I've been promising Stephanie Ann for a long time to do a post like this. I've finally put away my bashfulness, and written it. I only hope it does The World Turn'd Upside Down justice. When St. Patrick's Day comes around each year, many people think of leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows, dressing in green, and drinking. The Irish have a very rich culture, and generally Irish Americans are very proud of their heritage. All things Celtic have exploded in popularity in the last few decades. One thing that has gained popularity is Celtic, and especially Irish, music. In honor of Lá Fhéile Pádraig (St. Patrick's Day), I've attempted to record a few tunes. I'd like to discuss some peculiarities about each of the tunes.
An T-athair Jack Walsh
One of the notorieties of traditional tunes among those familiar with them is the lack of a set name for many tunes. Many traditional tunes still played today were composed in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, the music was passed on "by ear." Musicians would learn a tune from other musicians. Learning traditional music through sheet music wasn't a common as it is now. As a tune spread through different regions, it might pick up several names. In modern times, some tunes are renamed after a musician who makes the tune popular. The jig "An T-athair Jack Walsh" (pronounced "an 'ta-her") is a tune with several names. These names are mostly the same, though, and differ mainly because of translation. The name I've given is translated from Irish as "Father Jack Walsh," as in a priest. One other common name is "Tatter Jack Walsh," an Anglicized version of the Irish name. I've recorded this tune on the flute.
The Rakes of Invercairn
The Rakes of Invercairn is an old tune that isn't very commonly heard. I discovered it through a piper named Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn. He was featured on a BBC show called "Seinn Liom (play with me). He gives a very lovely history of the music in beautiful Irish with English subtitles. Anybody interested in this music should definitely see this! Tiernan describes where he found the tune, and that it probably hadn't been heard in about 100-200 years! Not only does he give a lovely history lesson, but also plays the tune much better than I do.
Thanks Andy! Please leave some comments!
Some past St. Patrick's Day Posts:
-Movies for St. Patrick's Day
-Irish Potato Candy Recipe
-David Kincaid at Godfrey Daniels