Carolan’s Farewell To Music reel

By Turlough O’Carolan

Also known as Carolan’s Farewell, Farewell To Music, O’Carolan’s Farewell, O’Carolan’s Farewell To Music, O’Carolans Farewell, Slán Don Cheol.

There are 47 recordings of this tune.

Carolan’s Farewell To Music appears in 1 other tune collection.

Carolan’s Farewell To Music has been added to 8 tune sets.

Carolan's Farewell To Music has been added to 269 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: Carolan's Farewell To Music
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
E|A2 AB c2 (3cBA|G>A B/d/e/f/ g>a b/a/g/e/|
e>d B/d/e/f/ g>e e/d/B|e>d Bc Ac B/A/G/E/|A2 AB c2 c/B/A|
AA (3BAG {A}a>g (3abc'|e2 eg d2 de|cB B/A/B/c/ A3||
e|a2 ab ag ab|ag ab ac' b/a/g/e/|g2 ga ge ga|
ba gb ac' b/a/g/e/|a3 g ag ab|(3abc' (3abc' ba ge|
gf ga b/c'/a/b/ g/a/f/g/|e/f/d/e/ c/d/B/c/ A>c B/A/G/E/|A2 AB c2 c/B/A|
B2 (3BAG a>b (3abc'|e2 eg d2 de|cB B/A/B/c/ A3||
X: 2
T: Carolan's Farewell To Music
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
B,|E2 EF G2 (3GFE|D>E F/A/B/c/ d>e f/e/d/B/|
B>A F/A/B/c/ d>B B/A/F|B>A FG EG F/E/D/B,/|
E2 EF G2 G/F/E|EE FEDE e>d (3efg|
B2 Bd A2 AB|GF F/E/F/G/ E3||
B|e2 ef ed ef|ed ef e>g f/e/d/B/|
d2 de dB de|fe df e>g f/e/d/B/|
e3 d/f/ e>d ef|(3efg (3efg fe dB|
dc de f/g/e/f/ d/e/c/d/|B/c/A/B/ G/A/F/G/ E>G F/E/D/B,/|
E2 EF G2 G/F/E|F2 (3FED e>d (3efg|
B2 Bd A2 AB|GF F/E/F/G/ E3||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 3
T: Carolan's Farewell To Music
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
AB|c2 BA G2 AB|c2 BA G2 cd|e2 de c2 BA|A4 G2 de|
f2 fg e2 ef|d^cde a3 ^g|a=ged|cAB^G|A4 A2:|
e|gede g2 ga|gede g2 e2|a^gab ageg|b4 abag|
f2 fg e2 e=f|d^cde a3 ^g|a=ged cAB^G|A4 A2||

Fourteen comments

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.

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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.

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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.

E Dorian

This key allows me to play this beautiful air on my 14 key Northumbrian chanter. The A Dorian setting is a bit too high.

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Re: Carolan’s Farewell To Music

Micheal o Suilleabhain plays it on piano and with an orchestra on the soundtrack of the TV film The Treaty starring Brendan Gleeson 1991…this is a most effective backing to such an important historical event and there are echoes of Sean O Riada in O Suilleabhain`s excellent interpretation.

Re: Carolan’s Farewell To Music

This tune as written sounds to me that the correct title is Carolans Dream and not carolans Farewell To Music.

X:1 Re: Carolan’s Farewell To Music

What I have is pretty identical to what “glauber” posted 18 yrs ago but with added verbiage in the description elements of the abc’s. I post the verbiage here so as not to be redundant. I seem to recall I might have retrieved off of the fine Bill Black pages tho I can’t be certain,.. just trying to help
T:O’Carolan’s Farewell to music
C:Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738)
B:Complete Works Of Turlough O’Carolan (PB / no pub / no auth. / fleamarket find)
Z:Chris Gilb into Noteworthy; Vince Brennan into ABC,MIDI & GIF (
E|A2AB c2 (3cBA|G3/2A/2 B/2d/2e/2f/2 g3/2a/2 b/2a/2g/2e/…

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Re: Carolan’s Farewell To Music

Pat Killalea’s comment above that X:3 (which I posted 2 years ago) sounds like “Carolan’s Dream” is spot on, it IS “Carolan’s Dream”. I got it wrong, apologies! Carolan’s Dream is posted separately on thesession. Looks as though I was looking at Donal O’Sullvan’s lovely book about Carolan - “C’s Farewell to Music”, tune listed as no. 188, “C’s dream” is no. 187. At any rate, both tunes are well worth playing!

Maybe X:3 could be deleted (by Jeremy) - it’s already to be found as ‘Carolan’s Dream’ and tune virtually identical…