Farewell To Music
This is another piece by Turlough Carolan, who many consider Ireland’s national composer. Tradition says this is the very last song he played.
This is to be played VERY slowly (say, 40 beats per minute).
The first time i heard this, it was played on the flute, and it works very well there, as well as on whistle. The octave shifts (in measure 7, for example) express so much emotion, it’s easy to get carried away and overdo it. This is a truly beautiful tune.
I transcribed this from a low-resolution gif i found somewhere, and transposed down 1 step so i could play it on my keyless flute.
I love this song. I’ve tried playing it on my lyre, and my clarinet. I find it works well on either of these instruments.
I have long know this as O’Carolans Farewell, and a different tune as O’Carolans Farewell to Music (which I think is in the Big Yellow O’Niells under that name).
This is great tune when played well. It is poignant and moving. The tune I know as O’Carolans Farewell to Music is also a great tune, but altogether more tragic and desolate - joyless perhaps. (A bit like Brahms Tragic Overture if you know it - a great slab of music with none of the beauty of melancholy, but all of the pain.)
I’ve seen a documental about irish music. It started with a harpist playing "O’ Carolan’s farewell". She told that O’Carolan was going die soon, and he knew it. He played this tune and then he died. In this tune, O’Carolan left the baroque influences and composed it in a really irish and melancholic style.
I think this is one of the most unique pieces of Irish music, there is nothing else like it in the world, making me think this tune was a gift from the sidhe. It is an exquisite hauntingly beautiful tune and remains my favourite Carolan piece. To me the first part of the tune is a reflection on a wonderful life, in the second part you can actually feel the life slipping away with the cascading notes. The tune returns to a reflection mode indicating the life has moved on. I don’t think there will ever be a better written tune.
Carolan’s Farewell to Music
Listen to East Galway flute player Sean Moloney play this gorgeous piece on the silver flute: http://www.seanmoloney.com/musicfile/farewelltomusic.mp3
That was found on a page of his website: http://www.seanmoloney.com/music.htm
She has you by the harp strings
Máire Ní Chathasaigh’s version on The New Strung Harp (which also appears on the ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ CD (Volume 3) became an instant classic and deservedly so.
This key allows me to play this beautiful air on my 14 key Northumbrian chanter. The A Dorian setting is a bit too high.
O’Carolan’s Farewell To Music
A live version by Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill - O’Carolan’s Farewell To Music