The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan - why is it that whilst he was responsible for around 200+ tunes, the vast majority of trad musicians seem to know only a handful of tunes from the same list of maybe 20?

I am prompted to ask this question because I have been discovering his wider work recently and been finding absolute gems of tunes that nobody seems to be playing.

The "list of 20" is only an approximation, but how many of you regularly play anything of his that is NOT :-

Planxty Irwin
Fanny Poer
Carolan’s Concerto
Carolan’s Welcome (AKA 171)
Bridget Cruise (3)
Si Bheag Si Mhor
Carolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady
Carolan’s Draught
Carolan’s receipt (AKA Dr John Stafford)
Carolan’s Farewell to Music
Hewlett
Eleanor Plunkett
George Brabazon (2)
Lord Inchiquin
Squire Wood’s Lamentation
Miss MacDermott (AKA The Princess Royal)
Blind Mary
Lament For Owen Roe O’Neill
Morgan Magan
Loftus Jones

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Me

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Probably one reason is that his tunes are not jigs and reels and so there are not that many ‘gaps’ in a typical session when there wold be the chance to play one.

Also the "20" is probably self reinforcing in the sense that traditional musicians are supposedly passing tunes to each other ‘by ear’ (not me I have loads of books too) and so for a new tune to gain currency i would have to be played and then passed on

On a personal note, I am not always in the right mood for Carolan’s tunes - to me he has a kind of primitive element to some of his style and if I am in a ‘baroque mood’ would probably prefer Vivaldi or the ultimate J.S.Bach. But the good thing is that the 20 - well about 10 of them anyhow - are familiar and not too fast

There is an interesting tension between playing Carolan tunes like classical music and playing them like traditional music, There is a version of O’Carolan’s Draught on Dublin Banjos by Johnny Keenan and Tony Sullivan which perhaps explains what I am on about better than my words

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Hewlett isn’t a Carolan tune is it?

Anyway, before O’Riada few, if any, traditional musician would play Carolan. The limited number you quote will all have been lifted from the same batch of recordings. There are a few more in circulation though, Henry McDermott Roe, Madame Maxwell for example would, to me, seem more popular than some on your list.

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It would be interesting to see how many of these tunes appear on early Chieftains recordings?

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Partly answering my own question:
Fanny Poer – Chieftains 3, Chieftains 5
Carolan’s Concerto – Chieftains 3
Si Bheag Si Mhor – Chieftains 5
George Brabazon – Chieftains 2
Lord Inchiquin – Chieftains 3
Miss MacDermott - Bonapart’s Retreat(?)
Morgan Magan – Chieftains 4

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Thanks for the replys so far!

gam,
You can be a little more verbose if you like 🙂

Edgar,
All your points are very well made and enlightening, your observation about how the tunes get picked up and passed on amongst what I presume are primarily session musicians is food for thought. The "tension" you describe about how to treat the tunes ie Classical Vs Trad is also something I would agree with. I’m of the opinion that trad should be dusting them off and claiming them back mind!

Prof,
Well, I’m no expert but yup, Hewlett is one of his - at least this mob seem to think so….

http://youtu.be/HbbaM7N6WJ0


And I particularly appreciate your comments about Henry McDermott Roe & Madame Maxwell being "visible". That gives me 2 more to investigate! I dare say that there might be some variation from my list of 20. I would also suppose that I might get a bigger list if I talked to a harper.

Thanks again for the responses so far - much appreciated!

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What, by the way, is that strange affection with calling Fanny Power Fanny Poer ? It’s been all over the internet the past few years and it doesn’t make sense to me.

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I have always thought of Hewlett as outside the canon but I can’t really remember based on what. Bunting doesn’t ascribe it to him anyway (but then again, Planxty Erwin [sic] on the same page isn’t ascribed to him either). O’Neill doesn’t list it among the Carolan tunes. I don’t have O’Suilleabhain to check.

Both Planxty and Chieftains 4 list it as a ‘possible’ but no definite.

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Ceoltóirí Laighean’s recording doesn’t mention Carolan in connection to Hewlett either.

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"Fanny Poer "- presumably this is spelling is repeating one of several ‘old’ alternative spellings on the assumption that it is somehow ‘correct” . It has a hint of "Ye Olde.." about it. I rather like the way that in the olden days they spelt things how they felt they wanted to - a tradition that has been revived with mobile phone SMS, twitter, and some posts to music websites 🙂

Oh yes, and I have a friend who makes a joke in poor taste (or with cutting edge wit, depending on your perspective) about the title everytime this tune is played, again…and again…and again…. 🙂

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Hewlett is in the Ossian Publications "Complete Collection of much admired…of Carolan… etc " which shows "Music origination by Routledge & Keegan Paul by permission". The bibliography has Routledge and Keegan Paul as publishers of the two volume work by "D.J. O’Sullivan". Is the latter what the Prof is referring to ?

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Hi Prof,

It might well be Power, but I thought Poer was the original spelling. As mentioned, I am deffo NOT an expert so I could well be wrong. Tune titles for Carolan seem to change over time in some instances. Planxty Irwin (or indeed Erwin) seems to have been known as "Colonel John Irwin" as well. There seems also to have been a fashion at some point for adding "Planxty" to the front of some of them that were not described as such in Carolan’s own lifetime.

Tunes attributed to Carolan are a thorny subject as well, but Hewlett is listed in O’Sullivan and is described as plausible with regard to it being written by him.

There also seems to be a trend to give names to the 10 previously unnamed tunes - 180 being known to some as Planxty Maggie Brown. Again, I can’t comment on the validity of that title - but it does serve to make life confusing ! - and its a cracking little tune as well !

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I don’t know Edgar, Bunting again spells it as ‘Fanny Power’ and that’s likely the oldest publication of the tune. The Irish version is usually spelled as ‘de Paor’.

Yes, David, that’s the one. But it would be interesting to see what DO’S has to say about the tune, especially in the light of the quite ambiguous attributions I quoted above (which, I expect, would have not been ambiguous if O’S attributed the tune as a definite O’C).

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X posted.

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I thought that the surname "Power" was the anglicisation of the Norman surname " de Poer".

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"There also seems to be a trend to give names to the 10 previously unnamed tunes - 180 being known to some as Planxty Maggie Brown. Again, I can’t comment on the validity of that title - but it does serve to make life confusing ! - and its a cracking little tune as well !"

It’s had that, or a related name, for a long time (see in comments for https://thesession.org/tunes/1149)

FWIW I can report it as tune I play as regularly/irregularly as almost all the 20 listed. I thought it was Scottish.

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Planxty Brown (I never knew a bout the Maggie part of the name) is usually quoted as an (originally) Scottish tune. O’Neill did list it among the Carolan tunes in MoI. Don’t know which is right.

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You have a point there in the OP. I have the Donal O Sullivan book, but in my "book" (the book I take to gigs and play out of, which has "lead sheets" in case I’m thrown together with "legit" musicians at a gig) I only have the ones you list, and not all of those.

I guess, like any other genre of music, there are favourite and less-favourite tunes.

Anyhow in my book is also O Flinn #128.

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Its called Maggie Brown in that well known Scottish publication "Allan’s Irish Fiddler"

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"What, by the way, is that strange affection with calling Fanny Power Fanny Poer ?"

Frances (Fanny) Trench née Power (c1716 - 1793) was the daughter of David and Elizabeth (née Keating) Power of Corheen, Co Galway (both had tunes composed in their honour by Carolan). Their ancestry can be traced back to one "Robert le Poer (or le Puher)" who was Marhall to English King Henry II, and was granted lands in Waterford (including the city) in 1177.
It seems David Power spelled his surname as such, but, it seems, such was the "esteem" of the landed gentry of that ilk that many used the "Poer" spelling to show the connection with the earlier ancestry. The various spellings are commonly switched about.

Tracing the landed gentry is fairly easy, due to their feeling of importance in society.

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Fair enough. It doesn’t really explain why this has started affecting the tune title in recent years. Which going back to Bunting (as far as I can see) has always been given as ‘Power’.

it must be that Olde Worlde feel some people prefer, as suggested above. They probably class it as an ‘Aire’ too.

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I am not much of an O’Carolan scholar - I confess to not playing many of the tunes out of the 20 (although I’d very likely recognise all of them to hear, and might be able to play along). There is one tune I play that is not on the list though - Henry McDermott Roe. This, at least, is the name I was given for it; Allan’s Irish fiddler contains a different tune with that name. The one I play is a 3/4 tune in G, beginning:
D | G2 GA BA | G2 E2 D2 | …

"to me he has a kind of primitive element to some of his style and if I am in a ‘baroque mood’ would probably prefer Vivaldi or the ultimate J.S.Bach."

I think it is unfair to compare O’Carolan to Vivaldi, Bach or any of the baroque masters. Whilst the influences of baroque music can undoubtedly be heard in O’Carolan’s music, he is in a separate class. Whilst the baroque composers of Germany and Italy were concerned with polyphony and musical texture, O’Carolan’s music - what we know of it, at least - is purely melodic; he had a gift for writing very strong melodies that could stand alone. Bach and Vivaldi were, of course, very capable of writing good tunes as well, but music that is purely melodic, or dominated by a single melody line, makes up a relatively small part of their overall work.

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Perhaps the reason is to make it appear less as a possible track by the Spice Girls.
However, O’Sullivan’s source for the tunes dedicated (it seems) to Fanny’s parents, is cited as "A Favourite Collection of the so much admired old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard. Set for the harpsichord, violin, and German-flute", by John Lee (Dublin 1780), where they appear as "David Poer, Esq" and "Mrs Poer" (of course, the tune ‘Carolan’s Concerto). This might have been to save ink, after wasting so much on the title of the book.

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Among the Carolan tunes I play regularly are Bumper Squire Jones, Dr John Hart, James Betagh, and Lady Athenry. Also Thomas Leixlip the Proud, which I believe is not one of his, although it should be, if you know what I mean. All splendid tunes and a pleasure to play.

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The Laments are great fun - although I know that looks a bit odd, now I’ve written that down! In particular, of course, Squire Wood’s lamentation on the refusal of his halfpence, which Carolan wrote to mark the boycott of Wood’s copper coinage in the 1720s.

I play Carolan a lot, although to be honest, the more I play, I realise how much better the music sounds when played very simply. With so much great tunes to choose from (and some downright weird ones too), there’s no excuse really for not playing a few more from outside of that "top twenty" above.

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"So much great tunes" - sheesh, I can’t even write any more!!

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I couldn’t agree more, Mark, about playing them simply. Some folk just can’t resist adding all sorts of harmonies where they don’t really fit, and merely obfuscate the man’s genius.

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Yes - and some of them also have a great rhythmic charm, which particularly needs very simple treatment. For example, John Kelly (no 72 in the Sullivan book) and Sir Arthur Shaen - both tunes which actually sound better the more simply they’re played.

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I don’t see anything wrong Peter, in people calling tunes variations on the name and there’s nothing necessarily wrong or pretentious about the use of older forms of a name, in particular.

If I recall correctly, you live in a townland called Kilfarboy? Maybe from from Cill Fear Buí - but variously known in the past as Kilferboy, Kyllnafearbugy or Kellynafearbrigy or Kyllnafearvay. All sound like reasonable versions to me and not in the slightest pretentious!

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"…Henry McDermott Roe…is the name I was given for it; Allan’s Irish fiddler contains a different tune with that name…"

Having done some research (i.e. searched the tunes section 🙂) https://thesession.org/tunes/5085 , that *is* the correct name. According to *Davy Rogers in the comments, it is one of 3 tunes O’Carolan composed with the same name. Mystery solved.

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I play more Carolan tunes for English Country dances than we do for sessions.

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I have two opinions about Carolan tunes:

1. They are best played on harp or hammered dulcimer.

2. Although melodic and pretty, they don’t sustain my interest. A little goes a long way. I play them when others do, but seldom alone., I have a large repertoire of songs and airs that I have far more affection for than anything O’Carolan wrote, and they are more in the style of ITM, which was not O’Carolan’s genre. He did his own thing.

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"1. They are best played on harp or hammered dulcimer."

That would not be entirely suprising, since they were composed on a harp. The hammered dulcimer is similar inasmuch as it has a string (2 or 3, in fact) to every note. But they also lend themselves well to mandolin family instruments and to fingerpicked guitar.

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I thought that Blind Mary was only doubtfully Carolan’s.

Whilst perhaps your list of 20 or so represents the Carolan tunes mostly played these says, there must be dozens, or hundreds, of composers of his time who rarely, if ever, get a look in. Unlike Carolan, who, thanks to us sessioneers, gets a pretty good airing. I wouldn’t mind betting that She Begs For More (oops…) is played far more times than Beethoven’s Fifth!

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".. composers of his time who rarely, if ever get a look in.." unless they composed tunes that are "only doubtfully Carolan’s" but get ascribed to him because they sound like his tunes. Maybe ?

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There’s plenty of evidence that The Princess Royal was *not* written by O’Carolan. It’s 50:50 as to whether it’s Irish or English in origin, for a start.

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I’ve sometimes been to this website devoted to Carolan and his music, with quite a few midis:

http://www.contemplator.com/carolan/caroltun.html

I’ve seen another that seems to have still more midis on it than the above, but at present cannot get either to play the tunes for me! So I can’t refresh my memory of some of them.

I must admit, I have had the feeling that the Carolan tunes "everybody" plays have stayed in circulation because they really were the pick of the bunch, and the others were neglected because they were found less interesting and attractive over the passage of time.

But I’ll add that the top 20 or so must also have made it through because they have had particular qualities that suit tastes and agendas of moderns - people like us! - that might be different in appreciable ways from those of their first hearers. Some of the Carolan tunes neglected after his time may have stayed in a time-warp, like any amount of other music before or since, accessed only for the purposes of (real or synthetic) nostalgia if at all, as, say, Victorian parlour songs might be today. The loss of Carolan’s songs seems significant - it suggests a surprising lack of subsequent interest in his tributes to these c17-18 gentry, once their day had gone.

Listening to some of the midis of less well-known Carolan tunes, I felt they were just not very catchy or memorable, but could imagine them sounding nice enough being played as background at some social gathering - though this is not taking into account that they may have had songs to them.

One tune I play which I *think* I’ve seen attributed to Carolan is one called The Twa Maidens - a good tune, whoever the composer.

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One of the advantages of reading music (no let’s not start that again 🙂 ) is that there is a wealth of tunes out there that don’t get recorded or played much. If you play solely by ear, the Complete Works of O’Carolan — or for that matter O’Neills Music Collection et al — would not mean much. But some of the best musicians obviously are not against raking through these volumes for material, and often ‘resurrect’ long-dormant tunes which, once recorded, become session fodder.

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I was in a Band, The Angel Band, that focused on Carolan’s work for about two thirds of our repertory. We recorded 26 tunes attributed to him. Some we got from sessions, some from other recordings, and some from wading through O’Sullivan’s:

Baptist Johnston
Bridget Cruise 1st Air
Bridget Cruise 3rd Air
Captain O Kane
Carolan’s Concerto
Carolan’s Draught
Carolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady
Carolan’s Receipt
Carolan’s Welcome (171, named by the Chieftans)
Come Under My Protection (sometimes attributed to C)
Eleanor Plunkett
Fanny Power (Poer)
Grace Nugent
Hewlitt
Kean O’Hara
Lady Wrixon
Loftus Jones
Lord Inchiquin
Mable Kelly
Maggie Brown’s Favorite Jig (180)
Maurice O Connor
Morgan Magan
Planxty Crilly
Planxty George Brabizon, 1st Air
Planxty George Brabizon, 2nd Air

Carolan was a contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Gemeniani, and other Baroque composers. He hung out with them, drank with them, and, I’m sure, traded tunes & licks with them. Carolan composed many pieces in the Baroque style. These are a little difficult to get at because the melodies come down as single lines and the way Carolan is played in Ireland—he’s still considered Ireland’s National Composer and was a "rock star" of his time— is on one or more harps in unison or perhaps accompanied by a guitar or harpsichord.

There are melodies that can be played as jigs, reels, airs, laments, all of which styles may well be imposed on the tunes by the players. We would jok, "Safe at any speed".

Maire ne Chathasaigh & Chris Newman, harp & guitar have at least 23 Carolan composition recorded. Lovely music.
Baptist Johnson
Bridget Cruise
Carolan’s Concerto
Carolan’s Draught
Colonel John Irwin
Constantine Maguire
Eleanor Plunkett
Fanny Power
George Brabazon 1st Air
Grace Nugent
Hewlett
John Drury
John O’Connor
Kean O’Hara
Lord Inchinquin
Madam Judge
Maire Dhall
Maurice O’Connor
Morgan Magan
Mr. O’Connor
Robert Jordan
Si Bheag’s Si Mhor
The Princess Royal

Joemy Wilson has 12 that I know of:

Bridget Cruise, Fourth Air
Carolan’s Cottage
Carolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady
Carolan’s Receipt or Dr. John Stafford
Edward Corcoran
Fanny Power
James Plunkett
Morgan Magan
Planxty Crilly
Sir Festus Burke
Squire Wood’s Lamentation on the Refusal of his Halfpence
Thomas Burke

An Irish pianist, J.J. Sheridan, recorded all of Carolan’s tunes appearing in the O’Sullivan’s book,

There are about a dozen more Carolan tunes we’d play at gigs, practice and so on. The hard part was learning the melodies in the O’Sullivan keys whenever possible, friendlier keys by consensus, and then figuring out how to interpret those melodies with seven different instruments adding the "Baroque flavor" whenever we could.

I put up some of the recordings at the Banjo Hangout, heres a particularly Baroque sounding example: http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/music.asp?id=38153&musicid=15695

You may have to join to here it.

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Power vs Poer: "Never trust anyone who can’t spell a word more than one way." Mark Twain 😉

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‘Baroque’ and ‘banjo’ are two words that don’t often turn up in the same sentence. I like the end result though.

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"Carolan was a contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi, Francesco Gemeniani, and other Baroque composers. He hung out with them, drank with them, and, I’m sure, traded tunes & licks with them"

Hmm…. O’Sullivan’s book devotes quite a bit to the dubious nature of the "meeting" with Geminiani. I’m not sure where you got the story that Vivaldi was "hanging out" in Ireland.

You’ll be telling me he played the banjo next….

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Only once before skreech,

"Last night a drunk came into the bar, sat down and baroque me banjo" 🙂

On a serious note - thanks to all so far for contributing on this. I’m enjoying all of your input. I’m learning from it too.

I do wonder, as an aside, if there is a tranch of opinion that Carolan is just for harpers. There are lots of clips about that demonstrate otherwise ! and some of his tunes work very well on other instruments - banjo works very well despite the huge difference in sustain when compared to a wire strung harp.

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"Carolan composed many pieces in the Baroque style. These are a little difficult to get at because the melodies come down as single lines…"

That’s very interesting. As I said above, all that we know of his music is purely melodic. Do any manuscripts exist of fully arranged works? Presumably, he would have had to have someone else transcribe them for him.

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The banjo, particularly the 5-string, was quite the surprise to the Irish attending the O’Carolan festivals we performed at. A wire-strung harp has a sound something like a banjo with a bridge mute. I play unmuted. My instrument has fairly long sustain and I play finger style.

No arranged works came down but our violinist knows her baroque (and other styles) and that helped immensely. Carolan didn’t write anything down because he was blind. His son may have done a few, and others from memory years later.

Lots of controversy about who met whom. No matter to me. I love the music.

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Weejie, I have no idea if Vivaldi was ever in Ireland. Carolan was familiar with the Baroque players and hung out with those who may have been around. That’s my understanding. Again, though, that doesn’t change the appeal music to me.

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No one’s mentioned "One Bottle More" (which I understand may not be Carolan’s) or "Beauty in Tears"

Vivaldi never left Italy that I know of. He used his supposed delicate health as an excuse to avoid most of his priestly duties and spent his life composing, much of the music was for the so called "Orphan Schools"

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Does anyone know what proportion of O’Carolan’s tunes were songs and is there any publications of the lyrics? If not is it that they were pretty aweful 🙂

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"Beauty in Tears"

See the comments here:

https://thesession.org/tunes/997

"Vivaldi never left Italy that I know of."

Well, it’s pretty well documented that he "hung out" in Vienna at one time - and that he visited Bohemia.


"Does anyone know what proportion of O’Carolan’s tunes were songs and is there any publications of the lyrics? If not is it that they were pretty aweful"

Much is printed in O’Sullivans book. Their quality is a matter of opinion.

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"…And the others were neglected because they were found less interesting and attractive over the passage of time…"

- From my post above. I should have said just, "others", not "the others"…I don’t have enough knowledge of the less often-played tunes of Carolan to pass judgement on their merits wholesale, or to know how popular or otherwise they were through the times that came after him 🙂.

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Margaret Brown is by Nathaniel Gow if I recall correctly (I don’t always..).

A fair few tunes became ascribed to Carolan by the phenomenon of Iconic Attraction™. He didn’t write them, but they sound as though he could have, and we don’t know who wrote them, so… It’s part of the ‘soup’ of tradition, an interesting phenomenon in its own right, not to be confused with fact, but somehow nourishing nevertheless.

A few off-hand -
Squire Woods’ Lamentation = Sour Plums O Galashiels
Planxty Scott = Mary Scott the Flower O Yarrow
George Brabazon = Prince Charlie’s Welcome to the Isle of Skye

In turn it is difficult to establish that these are definitively by ‘trad. Scottish’ and there are vested interests on both sides.

Did anyone else here read the novel Turlough (1996) by Brian Keenan? Carolan visited Brian and kept him sane while he was a hostage in Beirut. I kid ye not, he is still sane.

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That’s a fascinating detail about Brian Keenan and Carolan, and I hadn’t realised that the hostage and the author of "Turlough" were the same guy. I haven’t read it - it must go on my list of, "Must try to get round to, sometime…"

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When we have just melodies with no hints as to intended harmony it’s a bit of a stretch to say he composed music in the baroque style. Though maybe he did…

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I know my baroque music pretty well, but I’ve never really classed Carolan’s music as baroque, mainly because structurally the pieces don’t all fit. So I don’t play them like that. However, the strength of his music is that it can be played in many ways - he’s laid down the foundations, and people can build what they like. And that, I think, is why it is continually refreshed and why it’s survived so long.

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I heard an orchestral arrangement of the ‘concerto’ on the radio last week. They ‘baroqued’ it up a fair bit. Sounded convincing enough. Ofcourse there’s not a lot of material in the 16 bars but they made a go of it and, as far as I remember, developed it a bit further to make it stretch.

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There you go, this is what I heard:

Track Name: Carolan’s Concerto
Complete Work Name: Carolan Suite in Baroque Style
Composer: Traditional
Orchestra: Irish Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Fionnuala Hunt (director)
Album Title: Silver Apples of The Moon: Irish Chamber Orchestra
Record Label: Black Box
Record Catalogue Number: Bbm1003
Duration: 03:00

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One puzzling thing about Carolan’s Concerto — I’ve never heard anyone play the second part the way it was written (according to the ‘Complete Works’), which makes more sense musically. Everyone seems to play it the way it was recorded by Leo Rowsome.

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Rowsome pretty much had it as it was published in O’Neill’s. I don’t know what the Captain’s source for the tune was, Bunting gives a slightly different reading of the tune.

Problem is ofcourse very few of Carolan’s tunes were published during his lifetime and many only come down to us as collected from other harpers (i.e. for example through Bunting). ‘How it was written’ is at best up for discussion.

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On the matter of the songs: Tomás O’ Maille’s Amhráin Chearbhalláin, which contains most of the seventy surviving song (and a lot of others as well), can be seen here:

http://wirestrungharp.com/library/carolan_poems.html

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Good point, Gam. Actually, I play the second part as published in the "Complete Works" rather than as normally played - which means I can’t join in when people play it in a session, as my version is different from everyone else’s.

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Wow, that’s interesting. Don’t particularly like it (if it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it, is my motto).

Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

^^referring to the clip linked by Prof. Prlwytzkofski

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‘Cock Up Your Beaver’- what did that mean in the 17th/ 18th century?

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Cock = stick up, as ‘cock a snook’, stop-cock.
Beaver = top hat (possibly a collapsible one)

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Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

Many formulas for syrup glue were still being tested. Some were used in what would now be considered unconventional applications.

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Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

"Cock up your beaver" sounds like some unfortunate animal husbandry accident. On the other hand, animal husbandry is a noble profession. Until they catch you at it.

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Sometimes they were more subtle in the 18th cent than you think. ‘Cock Up Your Beaver’ simply means ‘doff your hat’, but ‘Open the Door to Three’ means what you think ‘Cock Up Your Beaver’ means.

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Thanks - this is an education. Just to derail this topic completely, my favourite lyrics don’t leave much to the imagination:

"My Man John had a thing that was long.
My Maid Mary had a thing that was hairy.
My Man John put his thing that was Long,
into my maid Mary’s thing that was Hairy."

It’s about getting together to mend a broom, of course!

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""Beauty in Tears"

See the comments here:

https://thesession.org/tunes/997

"Vivaldi never left Italy that I know of."

Well, it’s pretty well documented that he "hung out" in Vienna at one time - and that he visited Bohemia."

Yeah I know about "Beauty in Tears" and the various incarnations. O’Neill’s as mentioned ascribes it to Carolan, though I too doubt it.

Me Bad. I knew Vivaldi went to Vienna to produce some operas and should have remembered that. I didn’t know about Bohemia, but that doesn’t surprise me. Still, I doubt that he hung out with Carolan anywhere, and that is my point.

There is no doubt that Carolan was familiar with the baroque style, though there seems to be some question if the famous contest with Geminiani (sp) ever took place. The Harp Consort put out a very "baroqued" album of Carolan. Definitely interesting, though I don’t like it much.

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A "Beaver" was an old English word for the front visor or face guard of a military helmet. It’s mentioned in Shakespeare in Hamlet.
Hamlet says to Horatio, ‘Then saw you not his face?’
‘O yes, my lord. He wore his beaver up’

So to cock up your beaver was to show your face to let your friends or foe know who you are.

Hats made from beaver fur were very popular in the US and Europe from about 1500 to 1800 but they weren’t called ‘beavers’ They were known by their individual styles, e.g. The D’Orsay, The Paris Beau, The Continental, The Regent, etc.

Tommy

Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

@Mark Harmer:

Your favourite lyrics suggest you must have been a frat boy - i.e., they are the sort that are to be recited faultlessly to one’s peers after drinking 15 pints of beer in half an hour, the forfeit for failure to do this being to have to do it over again, or maybe over and over again.

I was not involved in this particular kind of drunkenness at university, preferring other kinds that were manifestly more pleasant and less likely to cause death. Nor did I have shedloads of money. Nor did I want to wake up in middle age and realise to my utter horror that I was running Britain along with the massed alumni of the Oxbridge drinking clubs of the Seventies.

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I don’t think any hats, other than those made by native Americans, would have been popular in the US ‘from about 1500 to 1800’!

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As a rule nicholas I swallow my coffee before reading your posts but you got me with the last paragraph. 🙂 Except it was red wine.

Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

I tend to like these tunes best on solo harp, but my favorite Carolan performance ever was on harp and flute. I had the great pleasure of playing in a concert and session with Cormac and Eamonn de Barra, and they did a definitively lovely rendition of Mr. O’Connor. It had the kind of inimitable magic you can find in some of the old American “brothers duets,” but without the harmony. Hmmm, that probably won’t make any sense unless you’re a fan of the Blue Sky Boys. Anyway, it made me feel quite inadequate with my dinky fingerstyle guitar arrangements

Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

Returning to the Hewlett question, O’Sullivan believed firmly that this was one of Carolan’s compositions, though the sources available to him did not provide documentary proof:
"The MSS. attribute neither words nor air of this lively drinking-song to Carolan; but both are so characteristic that there is little doubt that it was composed by him."

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"Hats made from beaver fur were very popular in the US and Europe from about 1500"

You may be right about the military headgear, though for some reason I’m not convinced. But I do know that there was no US in 1500.

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@nicholas Running Britain…as if!

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@tompipes Thanks for explaining - didn’t know that and it makes sense.

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Of course there was no us in 1500. How old do you think WE are?

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Re: The compositions of Turlough O’Carolan

? I think he meant US, not us!

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I think he meant WE, not we.

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A very interesting discussion, I wish I had seen it early when it was more active. I agree with the comments about learning things be ear may have a lot to do with it, I have even had people in sessions speak disparagingly of something I learned from a book, simply because it was from a book. Even so, there are many good recordings of lesser known tunes, if players would extend themselves to listening to some of the good harpers (in particular Derek Bell, of course, Grainne Yeats and Janet Harbison to name a few).

From the sessions I have frequented (multiple sessions in multiple cities) even many of "the 20" listed are little known. Not long ago I obtained the JJ Sheridan recordings, as I was listening I made a list of tunes that I liked well enough to learn, there are over 40 on the list, not including those I have already learned.

Some of my favorites to play which are not on "the 20 list": Susanna Kelly, Lady Athenry, Lady Gethin, Henry McDermott Roe (1st setting). Sir Charles Coote, The Landlady (not the Quarrel)

One last point don’t ignore tunes on the 20 list because they are commonly know - a lot of very good tunes there.

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