How old are trad tunes?

How old are trad tunes?

Could anyone offer a history of Irish traditional music, especially whether “Irish” music as we know it today existed, and if so, what tunes were popular, in North America between 1740 and 1776?

Re: How old are trad tunes?

Well, I don’t have any paperwork right here, but it’s pretty well known that the tunes started bouncing between Ireland and Scotland pretty early on. The tunes were unaccompanied, originally, so that depends on what you mean by “Irish music as we know it today” (there’s an awful lot of different kinds of Irish music today, including traditional pure-drop, country and western, jazz, New Age such as Enya, rock, and fusions of any of the above and more, including Riverdance) -- any of Andy Irvine’s bands, The Bothy Band, Planxty -- all those were pretty much trendsetting bands, especially the whole “driving percussive sections” thing. There’s been a trend recently towards the “pure-drop” in recordings. Davy Spillane and Kevin Glackin just recorded one called “Forgotten Days” that’s just the two of them, unaccompanied, and it’s being called the purest-drop album of the year by many critics.

Whether you’re of the school that the Irish gave the reel to the Scots or that the Scots gave it to the Irish (I think it’s probably the latter, although who gave the reel to the Scots, you might ask?), the actual music we play as traditional now only goes back (insofar as authentication is concerned) as far as about (I think) 14th century, and that only a very few pieces. Most of the authenticated oldest tunes we have are about 16th century, I believe, and they’re still fairly sparse, as far as I know.

If you check out the thread “Common Session Tunes”, I believe Alice posted a list from the 1700’s or so of then common session tunes; I believe those were in either London or Ireland, so Irish music in North America would have likely been a bit older still, but not by much.

You might also like to check out http://www.standingstones.com/musencyc.html for more info. If all else fails, try somebody like Phillippe Varlet or Verena Commins, both of whom have their degrees in enthomusicology, Irish in particular.

Zina

Re: How old are trad tunes?

There is a new book by a guy called Vallely (any relation to Cilian Valleley, the uillean piper who played Sunday night sessions at 11th St bar in NYC and is currently touring with Lunasa, I wonder?). The book is about Irish trad. music and apparently has a lot of history. You can check it out at www.chiffandfipple.com. It’s $50.00 and if you decide to buy it, please do through the link at chiff & fipple (to amazon.com), to support chiff & fipple, which is a great place.

Re: How old are trad tunes?

That’s probably Fintan Vallely -- I’ll go check the book out as soon as I have time…

Zina

Re: How old are trad tunes?

It depends what we include as “trad”. If we include pieces attributed to Turlough O’Carolan, for example, then they are known to date at least from C18th, perhaps earlier (some could be his adaptations of older tunes) - the tune, Tabhair Do Lamh (Give Me Your Hand), attributed to the harper, Rory Dall

Re: How old are trad tunes?

“If all else fails, try somebody like Phillippe Varlet…” LMAO, Z!

Jeff

Re: How old are trad tunes?

*pursed lips* What are you trying to say, Jeff? *giggle*

zls

Re: How old are trad tunes?

The Scots-Irish immigrated in droves in the 18th century, many settling in rural areas. That’s probably why the Appalachian area has such a unique musical legacy. Check out the film “Song-catcher” if you can. I’d love to get the sound-track; does anyone have any information?
Many Irish from the south settled in Newfoundland.
The best book I’ve found on the subject is by Gearoid O hallmhurain …published by the O"Brien press of Dublin; in case I haven’t written his Gaelic name quite accurately : ) And it’s titled (this is the easy part) A pocket history of Irish Traditional Music.

Re: How old are trad tunes?

Thanks all for your comments on the age of Irish trad tunes. I fell out of the computer world for awhile, so sorry for not thanking you earlier. Thanks for the Philippe Varely recommendations. I’ll ask him at my next lesson.