Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Hey y’all,
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here, but I’m happy to see the discussion section is still alive and kicking! I have a bit of a difficulty that I would love y’all’s input for.
I was asked to play for a memorial service/funeral, and they won’t give me any other suggestions other than "something beautiful". Not real helpful. I’ll be opening the service, to get everyone’s attention and quiet down to get things started, and I need ideas for tunes, songs that sound nice played instrumentally, etc.
I’ve already got: Sweet Journeys, The South Wind, the melody to the song ‘Wally Wally’ (it also goes with several hymns), possibly Be Thou My Vision.
I’ll be playing on a silver flute (I know, I know, I’m sorry, but it projects much better than my Irish one and this thing is outside, and I can do more with it).
Any input is very welcome!

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Give a listen to Matt Molloy’s rendition of ‘The Parting of Friends’. As gaelge "Scariunt na gCompanie". https://thesession.org/tunes/2555

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Here’s a reel that is beautiful when played slowly. I like it for this kind of service because the A part is somewhat happy and carefree, going to a B part that is more melancholy.

Da Slockit Light

https://thesession.org/tunes/1863

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Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

I’d add my two cents in support of Ailin’s and dfost’s choices, and Far Away which you already play. And I would never, really never, apologize for playing a silver ( or any other color) concert flute. Lovely things they are and I wish I could play one.

A couple of choices that are "sappy" in some places but quite appropriate for many settings might be the songs (I’m approximating the titles here) " When You and I Were Young Maggie" and "Homeward Bound". I’ve played both in similar settings to yours and this old man could barely get through them for the tears in his eyes.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

The air ‘An feochán’ would be beautiful!

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

I played "The Wild Geese" for my Da’s funeral; I think it would sound nice on the flute also.

In fact, here is a version done by The Chieftains that includes a flute part:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsY41uW4lt0&spfreload=10


I learned it from a harper, but the Chieftains setting is the same tune.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Thank y’all so much for your suggestions, this has been so helpful!
I had forgotten about the Carolan tunes, so many of them are just right for this type of event.
Ross Faison, thanks for your kind words regarding the silver flute, I guess my comment excusing it was because I remember it getting knocked quite a lot on this board when I was here last for not being ‘traditional’, I love it dearly though.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

My Dad was a sea captain. I played "Cape Cleare" at his funeral.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

I’ve played hundreds of funerals over the last 40 years.

Most have been on Highland pipes, but loads have been on uilleann pipes. When I’m doing uilleann pipes I’ll switch to whistle from time to time.

Since you’re throwing in y’alls I’m assuming this funeral will be in the USA.

I’m usually hired to do uilleann pipes because it’s an Irish person or Irish-American person who has passed.

About tunes, the music that most Americans think of as "Irish music" is the Tin Pan Alley stuff written in New York, Irish Eyes are Smiling and all that stuff. It’s quite amazing how many of those tunes there are. You could play that stuff for an hour and all the Americans would love it.

Then there’s the Irish Folk Music, much of it written in the 1950s 1960s etc like Fields Of Athenry. It’s what many other Americans think of as "Irish music", all those old Clancy Brothers songs and so forth.

A third body of music is the Sean Nos Airs. These tend to be recognised by people who are actually raised in Ireland, especially older people.

So what I do is cycle through these three streams of "Irish music" to try to appeal to as wide a spectrum of the attendees as I can.

BTW if your Irish flute doesn’t project as well as your silver flute there’s something amiss. You might not have a great Irish flute, or you may not have spent enough "face time" to get your embouchure accustomed to the Irish flute. I would suggest, if possible, laying aside the Boehm flute for a while and really getting your embouchure dialed in on the Irish flute. If you do spend a few weeks exclusively on the Irish flute, and if your Irish flute is a good one, you’ll find you get as much or more projection out of your Irish flute than you do your silver flute!

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Richard, when I die you’re welcome to play at the party after the funeral. But you are so not hired to play for the part for appealing to the attendees…

Just kidding! I’m confident you would give me a good sendoff. Seriously, Richard, you’re grand.

Becky-o, sorry for distracting attention away from your discussion. To which I should add, I was serious about the hymn I posted above. I don’t know if you’re looking for Irish music exclusively; but if not "His Eye is on the Sparrow" is a tune which almost always moves me. Or any number of instrumental pieces which are fitting, if not "Irish".

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Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

At a gig this evening, the trio I’m in played Willie Hunter’s tune ‘Leaving Lerwick Harbour’, which struck me as a piece you might like to consider for your purpose - if you need any more suggestions. There’s a setting of it on the Tune Library page at www.rudemex.co.uk, where you could also find an arrangement of ‘Da Slockit Light’ (Tom Anderson) as mentioned above - which I think would also be a good choice for such a time.

I wrote a piece called ‘The Heather Dale’ for my brother’s funeral a year ago which has not yet been added to the tunes page but, if it might be of interest, get in touch via the rudemex website and I’d be happy to send the dots.

I hope you find something that you feel fits the occasion.

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Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

The "Hills of New Zealand" is my current favourite- a "recent" composition by Joanie Madden.

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I played the Coolin on a Bb whistle at the end of the eulogy at my Gran’s funeral last month, and it seemed to go down well (It did leave several of my cousins in tears, but lots of people approached me afterwards to say how much they loved the tune). That was personal though, as she had long stated her desire to have that air played at her funeral.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

This one’s beautiful and according to Kenneth MacKenzie, Cape Breton, is a staple at funerals in Inverness County and beyond.
Mó Mhàthair :My Mother
https://youtu.be/RH-I6sQhvr8

Incidentally, the following piece ‘Moladh Maureen Nic Coinnich’ (In praise of Maureen MacKenzie) was written for Kenneth ‘s own mother.
https://youtu.be/RcD1OUbQarg

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

This is something that has concerned me of late because of the death of a close family member. The following tunes from the Scottish and Irish traditions would seem to be appropriate. They are all slow, haunting but strong melodies:

Lament for Limerick / Lochaber No More
Niel Gow’s Lament for his Second Wife
Leaving Lerwick Harbour
Hector the Hero
Lament for Ian Dixon (for Northumbrian smallpipes)
Da Slockit Licht
(btw, in contrast to some of the earlier posts, this tune is NOT a reel. It was composed by the Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson as a lament after he reflected on how one of the rural districts of Shetland had become depopulated during his lifetime).

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

I always wanted The Parting Glass and Amazing Grace played at my funeral/memorial service/wake, preferably on the pipes but the flute would also work.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Had no idea ‘Moladh Maureen Nic Coinnich’ was written for Kenneth’s mother….nice guy, and great musician. Playing that tune a lot in this house right now. Here is Hailee Lefort playing that tune, followed by ‘The Last March’ by John Morris Rankin…another contender. There is a story that Howie MacDonald found the tune stored on the keyboard after John Morris died…. last thing perhaps he composed.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq9O-FGdzAw

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

"In Memory of Herbie MacLeod" is another good one. Jerry Holland is a great source for wedding and funeral tunes.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Agree with Borderer, Da Slockit Light is a slow air: don’t anyone EVER dare to play it as a reel or march! And I understood that Tom Anderson wrote it soon after his own wife died.
"Lonesome Eyes" by Jerry Holland is another beauty, as are many of Phil Cunningham’s slow airs.

Re: Tunes for a memorial service/funeral

Lament for Limerick — very moving.

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