A piece of my mind
This is the first time I have ever written a letter to a thing like this. At first I wasn’t going to bother. But I am so angry and annoyed I decided I had to.
Last Sunday after Mass, I was talking to a young lad in my piping class. It is a great privilege for me to be able to pass on the tradition. He asked me if i had ever heard of a tune, which he named. Now, I had never heard of it. As I have been playing this fifty years I was surprised. So I asked him where had he got it. On his computer he said. I was amazed. And is there much Irish music on the computer. And who on earth puts it there, I asked him. He told me there are people all over the world playing Irish music. And there are places where you can get tunes. As well as that there are places where people have discussions about the music.
Now, I am an old man. I have been playing music all that time. I am proud I have been able to do some small part to keep alive our beautiful music. I have seen much sorrow in our native land which we have withstood bravely, But I never thought I would live so long to have this last indignity thrust upon us: That we have people who are not Irish, have never been to Ireland a lot of them, playing our national music.
I tell you honestly. What you are doing is wrong and you must stop.
Now you may think that I am against people who are not Irish. That is not true. I see in Ireland today a thing I thought I would never see. Many people coming from all over the world to live here. I am glad to see them. There were millions of our own people who had to leave. They got rough treatment a lot of them. It is Ireland’s turn to be generous and treat all people decently.
No. That is not the reason why you must stop playing our music. The reason is that you can’t play it.
It is what it is: Irish music. It is the innermost thoughts of our people handed down through the generations. If you have not withstood the hammer blows of tyranny the music will mean nothing to you.
Not only that. the music is part of the country itself. Its crags and mosses. the barking of Irish dogs and lowing of Irish cattle have shaped and formed it. As I say to my pupils when they cannot get the lilt right of a jig ‘Picture in your mind’s eye now children, the fog drifting through the gorse and heather of Binn Earagail’. Because they are born with this and walk to school each day through it they grasp the point and play beautifully.
As well as that the music is only one thread in the shawl that is our culture. You cannot play our music unless you have the beautiful Irish language. It is obvious. The fact that I even have to discuss this with you, not in beautiful, rich, subtle gaeilge, but in this sub germanic doggerel of a language, English shows that you have no hope of ever playing Irish music.
I took some time on your ‘site’ as you call it to see what it is you talk about. Accompaniment? New instruments? Do you not even know that? There are five instruments in Irish music. Fiddle, pipes, flute, whistle and harp (the bodhran to, I suppose, but not too much of that. And I do not include the accordian. I do not care of it traditional or not. It sounds horrible.
The player should know the name of the tune, in Irish, what it is in English is not important. He should have the history of the tune the stories associated with it and its origination. Unless he has them he cannot play the tune. The instruments should be played on thier own, one tune at a time. On a rare occasion is it permissible for instruments to play together.
So there you have it. That is everything you need to know, so there is no more need of discussions. Stop yer nonsense!