Traditional Music Books

Traditional Music Books

Hey folks,

Im doing a bit of research and Im looking for the names of books relating to traditional music, either general or regional in terms of geography and instruments.

Im looking for books relating to the traditional music of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales (seperately), that are still relatively easy to either buy or are available in libraries today.

The reason Im looking for them is because I want to compile a list. The kind of books im looking need not contain just tune transcriptions, but information about the region, style, players and instruments. A good example would be ‘the northern fiddler’ by alan feldman.

Id appreciate any help I could get!

Re: Traditional Music Books

I’d take a look through the two "Shaskeen" books, "Through the Half Door" and "The Crossroads Dance", edited by David Taylor.Many of the tunes are accompanied by a short history of the tune. Also the obvious ones like the various "O’Neill’s" collections. And I seem to recall a book by (I think) Tomas O’Canain( spelling is a bit doubtful). Depending on where you live a chat to Fintan Vallely(Ulster) and/or Mick Moloney(US?), and Dave Bulmer(Northern England) .Each have an encyclopaedic knowledge of history,tunes, and musicians. And of course each one of them are top grade musos.

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When’s your thesis due ?
Sorry, maybe just making an assumption there.
There was a young musician working in my barn-dance band for a while, and doing a music degree at the City. I remember looking through her thesis and thinking "I know all of this, why haven’t I got a degree ?".

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I don’t know of any books quite at The Northern Fiddler level. That’s a very special book!

Books about Irish music in general, with a lot of history, theory, etc are

Traditional Music In Ireland by Tomas O Canainn

Folk Music and Dances of Ireland by Breandan Breathnach

You’ll find a lot of theoretical stuff such as the idea of "inflection" and the concept of "note frequency" to determine tonal centre etc.

Perhaps the best "hands-on" book to really understand Irish dance music, which deconstructs a lot of techniques and goes into the art of variation etc is

The Dance Music of Willie Clancy by Pat Mitchell

It contains an in-depth analysis of Willie’s style and transciptions of many Willie tunes.

The "preface" includes the classic:

"Undue modesty should not deter us from drawing attention to some unique features of this work. It is the first collection of Irish pipe music ever to be published; it is the most extensive report on the repertoire of an Irish traditional musician; and the analysis of the music and of the playing techniques presented is the first undertaken in this field."

The Dance Music of Willie Clancy was then followed up by:

The Piping of Patsy Touhey by Pat Mitchell and Jackie Small

which is a similar type of book but the stylistic information has less connexion to how the vast majority of pipers play nowadays.

Re: Traditional Music Books

Why not indeed? 🙂 go for it!

The thesis is being corrected at the min. the list isn’t for my benefit, more for the benifit of people or institutions who know very little about traditional music in their area.

I have a list of some myself but I just want to expand it for future use!

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And thank you richard and tony!

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I’d be really interested in the list you end up with. Is it likely to be available on line?

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This is just preliminary, I thought it might be a good idea. When I gather a decent enough list representing as many styles and regions as possible id be more than happy to put it up on line, at least here anyway.

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Narrative singing in Ireland; Hugh Shields
Irish musical studies. Giullen& white
The man and his music; anthology of Breandan Breathnac
Bowing styles in Irish fiddle; lythe
Irish minstrels and musicians. O’Neil,

bagpipes; Cheape
highland bagpipes; cannon
music and society in lowland Scotland; Johnson
Traditional Gaelic bagpiping; Gibson
The highland pipe .1750-1950; Donaldson
Dance to the piper; Shears.

But really any study of the music needs to encompass the history of the lands. So comprehensive study of Scottish and Irish History forms the bedrock upon which the aforementioned books will build. Though of course some do touch on that, In particular Donaldsons study is highly regarded and Gibsons is as well. Tune books I have in quantity.

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"The Scribe — The Life and Works of James O’Neill," by Caoimhin MacAoidh. Book about the person who helped Francis O’Neill transcribe tunes for the O’Neill collection.

I can’t remember the exact title, but there is a nice book about Junior Crehan put out by his family. I think it is called "Martin ‘Junior’ Crehan."

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In particular the online tune books from Ceol Sean’s collection offer very interesting tunes and settings and offer interesting insights.
Also A compleat theory of the Highland Bagpipe by Joseph MacDonald 1760/1763.

Re: Traditional Music Books

Hidden Ulster by Padraigin Ni hUallichain is a fantastic insight into the singing and music tradition of the northern collective of Ireland.
Between the Jigs and the Rells by Caoimhin Mac Aoidh has a nice Donegal slant to the tradition.
Telephone or email Nicholas Carolan at the Irish Traditional Music Archive , explain what you need and he wil tell you exactly what to get.
In Wales contact Trac http://www.trac-cymru.org/
England the English Folk Dance and Traditional Music Society (google them)
Scotland contact Department of Scottish Studies in Edinborough Uni (trad music archive)
Good luck

Re: Traditional Music Books

A very good starting point would be the bibliography provided by ‘The Companion to Irish Traditional Music’.

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin’s book, ‘The Hidden Ulster’, only concentrates on the song tradition of Northern Louth, South Armagh and Southwest Down.

‘Between the Jigs and Reels’ doesn’t have ‘a nice Donegal slant to the tradition’, but is entirely devoted to the county’s fiddle music.

Other books of relevance include:

PJ Curtis’s ‘Notes from the Heart’ - almost entirely devoted to Clare;

Helen Brennan - ‘The Story of Irish Dance’;

Christy McNamara and Peter Woods - ‘The Living Note’;.

Bernard O’Flaherty’s ‘Trip to Sligo’;

and,

Fintan Vallely and Charlie Piggott - ‘Blooming Meadows’, which has plenty on local styles.

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Re: Traditional Music Books

FtT said, "Bernard O’Flaherty’s ‘Trip to Sligo’"

I think it’s Bernard Flaherty - might make it easier to search for.

Re: Traditional Music Books

Mea culpa,

It is, of course, just Flaherty (that’ll teach me not to check my bookshelves!).

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Re: Traditional Music Books

Thanks folks, i recognise a lot of these, particualry the ones relating to ulster.

Trip to Sligo is like the holy grail to me, I love the arrangements, and the biographies of all the players, gives it a real sense of place.

Re: Traditional Music Books

The three-volume Petrie Collection (19th century and long out of print) can be downloaded in pdf format (free) from,
http://imslp.org/wiki/The_Complete_Collection_of_Irish_Music_(Petrie,_George). A good broadband connection is essential.
Volume I starts with 9 pages of a closely printed Introduction by the good Dr Petrie - I regret I have not had time to read through it, but doubtless it contains useful information.

The three-volume Roche Collection of Traditional Irish Music (published over the period 1909-1927) likewise has useful Forewords and Prefaces discussing the playing of the music and its relationship to dancing. I don’t know whether it is still in print - a single-volume compilation was published in 1982 by Ossian Publications ISBN 0 946005 05 02 and ISBN 0 946005 06 0. I believe it can still be found on Amazon.

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I have just checked out the Roche Collection on Amazon (both .com and .co.uk), and it is still available - but at a price!
As they say, if you want to know how much, then you probably can’t afford it 🙂

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Stone Mad for Music, the Sliabh Luachra Story by Donal Hickey.

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I can lend you the Roche compilation if your in the UK, or can pay the postage

Re: Traditional Music Books

Oh- I was just thinking Ireland…

For Scottish music there’s a book called "Ranting Pipe and Trembling String" about Scottish piping and fiddling. I can’t remember the author.

The most comprehensive review of the historical evidence of bagpiping in general, as well as an amazingly in-depth review of Scottish piping in particular, is

The Bagpipe: The History of a Musical Instrument
by Francis Collinson

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Thanks everyone. Here’s some articles which ive found useful about various elements traditional and folk music over the past year, and folks here might be interested in reading (you can probably find a lot of them on google scholar)

Collecting In Kerry
Dorson, R (1953)

Fieldwork in common places: An ethnographer’s experiences in Tory Island
ó laoire, L. (2003)

It’s New Strung and Shan’t be heard’: Nationalism in the Irish Harp Tradtion
Lanier, S.C. (1999)

The Concertina as an Emblem of the Folk Revival in the British Isles
Eydmann, S. (1995)

The Northern Fiddler Project
Feldman A. (2002)

The Social Context of Irish Folk Instruments
Thomas F. Johnston (1995)

What can we learn about the piobaireachd?
Cannon, R. (1995)

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Hidden Fermanagh by Cyril Maguire. Lots of rare tunes, info about tunes and musicians and local history, plus lots more!
No-one seems to have mentioned O’Neill - ‘Irish Music and Musicians’, ‘Waifs and Strays of Irish Music’ ‘Irish Folk Music-a Fascinating Hobby’. All great companions to O’Neill’s vast collections of tunes. ‘Irish Music and Musicians’ I would particularly recommend.

Re: Traditional Music Books

It has been drawn to my attention by member Mixolydian that my posting above of the link to the Petrie Collection contains a subtle error. The final parenthesis ")" is actually part of the link. If you highlight the entire link, including the closing parenthesis, and then hit CTRL-C you should be able to paste the correct link into your browser’s address bar and call up the website with no trouble. If, however, you just click on the link as posted you won’t be able to access that page. The correct link is: http://imslp.org/wiki/The_Complete_Collection_of_Irish_Music_(Petrie,_George)

Also on the IMSLP database is the complete Bunting’s "Ancient Music of Ireland" Collection. The link is: http://imslp.org/wiki/The_Ancient_Music_of_Ireland_(Bunting,_Edward)
Again, be aware of that closing parenthesis in the link!

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There’s something odd going on. The final parenthesis is NOT highlighted as it should have been when I posted those links just now - so it wasn’t my error. Caveat quis eo utitur.

Re: Traditional Music Books

Quod erat demonstrandum !!! 😉

Re: Traditional Music Books

Hmm .. more research needed 🙁

Re: Traditional Music Books

It seems like the imslp site doesn’t like brackets.

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Re: Traditional Music Books

No, its this site not including the ) in the link, either when it inserts into the database or when it makes up the page - have a look at the page source. The brackets work fine if pasted into the the address bar.

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It didn’t … 🙁

(Full marks to Bronstein for coming up with that workaround)