Celtic session music in fiction

Celtic session music in fiction

Howdy,

Can anyone make any suggestions or point to any fiction (or poetry, even) that includes, involves, alludes, or revoles about Celtic sessions, the music, people, or trads? It doesn’t even have to be specifically sessions, but any Irish music.

I can recall one oddball mystery by R.A. MacAvoy called "Twisting the Rope" which was a bit of a let-down after her "Tea With a Black Dragon." It featured a touring Celtic band.

Cheers!

—jdteehan

Re: Celtic session music in fiction

Firstly, I’m slightly confused … as a half-Cornish Welshman born in Plymouth, but now living on the Welsh-English border in Herefordshire … (OK, I suppose I would be. Confused, that is.)

Do you mean Celtic? Or Irish?

If you mean celtic, and assuming that includes Scots, try a suggestion of mine from a previous thread - "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson. And its sequel, Catriona, come to that.

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"Father’s Music" by Dermot Bolger

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and Banish Misfortune - I think that’s Bolger also

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"Haunted Ground" by Erin Hart.

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If you are willing to stretch your definition of "fiction" to a "collection of 31 interconnected essays":

Last Night’s Fun by Ciaran Carson

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I suppose there’s the blindingly obvious James Joyce references … Mind you, that’s in the bit where they’re already completely p*ssed, and the book gets a bit hazy round about there …

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"The New Policeman" by Kate Thompson

Avi

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This is sort of in the region.

"The Bodhran Makers" by John B Keane

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William Butler Yeats perhaps??

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The LIving Note by Peter Wood is all about this, as is the amazingly beautiful and poetic I Could Read the Sky by Timothy O’Grady.

If any of you have not read these, see if you can persuade Santa to put them in your stocking. They add a lot of context to 20th century Irish music.

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Annie Proulx wrote a novel called "Accordion Crimes", about the passage of an accordion through various hands in America; but I have not read it, and don’t know if Irish sessions feature.

I wonder what percentage of the autobiographies of famous musos is fiction.

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Thanks for the great suggestions, both here and off-list.

I always have a rough time writing stories featuring music. I’d like to see how others approach it.

Cheers!

—jdteehan

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I never finished "Accordion Crimes," too grim for my taste, there is a lot of misfortune that falls upon owners of that poor thing.
There was a science fiction story about a bar that got teleported to different planets, and there was a house band in the story that apparently played a lot of session stuff among their repetoire. I think it was called "Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar" or something like that, and I think it was written by Stephen Brust (sorry about the feeble memory).
In my mind, there is not enough fiction that features music…

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I surprised no one has mentioned "A piper in Brazil" by John Faulker. Lots of tunes and a cute plot line.

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I loved "Accordion Crimes". As Al says, misfortune befell many of the owners of the accordion; the less generous among you might say "serves ‘em right". However most of the ways in which they went to meet their maker are darkly humourous and had me in stitches.
To settle a point, no there weren’t any Irish owners/players mentioned in the book.

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The War for the Oaks by Emma Bull.

Fun fantasy novel about a rock singer who gets caught up in a fairy war. Features elves on pipes and all sorts. I think the writer is a in a folksy sort of band.

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The teleporting bar sounds like something Spider Robinson would do. He’s not a bad guitarist from what I’ve seen. Something of a filker.

The closest I’ve ever written music into a story was "Digger Don’t Take No Requests" about a busker on the moon. (LOW PORT, Meisha Merlin Press), and "Mary Call" based on the Joan Baez song back in a college lit rag.

Huh, and I sit here and realize that I forgot all about the anthology "Stars" which features stories based on the songs of Janis Ian. Okay, moving away from Celtic and trad, but still…

Cheers! and thanks again

—jdteehan

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Someone wrote a novel about Carolan, and a play was written about the Northumbrian piper Jimmy Allen.

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There’s a children’s picture book by Bob Graham, I believe it’s called "Benny." It’s about a tap dancing dog, who eventually finds his way into a family of Irish musician types. He dances with the daughter, who is a step dancer. The rest on the family plays tunes.

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Conan’s right there were no Irish players mentioned in Accordion Crimes, which is why I hesitated on that one. Nonetheless, its a great read.

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It ain’t Irish, but one of the best inclusions of music in fiction has to be Patrick O’Brian’s description of Aubrey and Maturin’s violin and cello playing in the series that started with Master and Commander. I seem to remember that at one point in the series, there was a critique from the forecastle regarding the odd (ie classical) music that emitted from the captain’s cabin. Since the music we play in sessions is more of a direct descendent of the people’s music played in the forecastle by the seamen, I found this quite amusing.

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"The Bogman" by Walter Macken is one of those depressing books about rural Irish farm life. The main character plays the melodian and the music plays a role in the plot.

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Various of the Borderlands series of urban fantasy. Elves, NASCAR, renaissance faires and British and Celtic traditional music. Morris dancing, too.

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Not ITM, but I used to enjoy Manly Wade Wellmans’ short stories about a travelling folk-singer with his silver-strung guitar ( very useful against vampires and other ghouls ).
Liked the Spider Robinsin reference earlier, too.

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Mick Maloney has a book out called "Far From the Shamrock Shore" which tells the story of Irish immagration to America through words and song. Comes along with a CD. I found a copy at my local library and was worth checking out.