We recently have been visited by a new member who plays the flute. She’s pretty much only played the silver concert flute so far, but has bought a simple system, 6-hole flute as well. This got me thinking about how beginners/new converts to Irish music don’t always know what their new instrument is capable of, given that they put in the hours for practice, of course! (Hint, hint, Ms. McA!) So today, for our newest member, I present a number of fine players of the flute in the Irish tradition:
First up, Katherine Mcevoy. I fell in love with her playing because of her collaboration with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh on the album Comb Your Hair and Curl It.
Of course, no flute player list is complete without Matt Malloy, former member of the The Bothy Band, Planxty, and The Chieftains. He is widely considered the man at the apex of Irish flute playing. Here is just one of I am sure many hundreds of examples of his playing to be found on YouTube. He’s playing at a fairly moderate tempo here, and you can really see what all his digits are up to:
Here’s Harry Bradley, who I first heard on an album with fiddler Paul O’shaughnessy called …Born For Sport. Looove his easy style and his variations.
Tara Diamond. From Northern Ireland, here playing a couple Flings with her husband, Dermot. Lovely stuff.
Patsy Hanley. Playing one of my favorite jigs. I’ll let you guess which one.
And there are SOOOO many more amazing flute players out there. This list is a little random, but a good discussion of fine fluters can be found at https://thesession.org/discussions/26557
You can look forward to spotlights on other Irish trad instruments as well, so keep coming back!
I was listening to an album by Kevin Crawford called In Good Company today, and this one jig stood out to me, and it turns out it’s because my musician friends play it at sessions. It’s called Strike the Gay Harp, and I love it. It has three parts, in the key of D. Here a link to a recording of my friends playing it, and a few videos from YouTube for your viewing and listening pleasure. Tell me what you think of it! I’ll post a vid of me playing it soon! But first–
My friends playing Strike the Gay Harp.
Our good friend Naka came and taught us a tune called Rose in the Heather, a jig in D. Here are just three of the many versions I found on the YouTube. You can do so much with this tune, and it sounds lovely slow or fast. Enjoy!
With the Kesh–!!
Hi folks! I am pleased to announce that the LVISS is hosting a dance workshop on June 28th, during the regular session time! In short, we’ll be demonstrating fiddle and dance styles, and having a dance workshop to teach you the dances themselves! Very basic overview, but should be loads of fun! Brought to you by the LVISS and The CT Cultural Heritage Society. More info below and on the workshops page.
FIDDLE M.A.D.! Irish Fiddle Music and Dance Workshop
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28TH, 5:30 – 8:30 PM (Please pre-register)
DeCice Hall, 1365 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA 01040
Courtney Jay TCRG
Join the Lower Valley Irish Slow Session and our special guests Dan Foster and Courtney Jay TCRG as they introduce various styles of Irish fiddle music and Irish dance, and provide a chance for you to “get your feet wet” by teaching you to dance along! Solo step dance and group dance styles will be covered. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing. This is primarily a dance workshop–no music will be taught, only shared! There will be a $10.00 suggested donation.
Bring a snack to share if you like, as there will be a short break. Liquid refreshments will be provided.
Space is limited, so please pre-register by sending your name and number of guests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Foster is a specialist performer and tutor of Irish and Scottish fiddle music, who honed his playing style under master musicians in Ireland before emigrating to New England from his home in the British Isles. http://www.danfosterfiddle.com/
Courtney Jay TCRG is a champion Irish step-dancer who established her own Irish dance academy “Scoil Rince Luimni” in 2014 after studying under dancing masters in the Munster region. http://www.irishdancect.com/
I love this tune. It’s pretty twisty and odd, but once you listen to/play it a bunch of times it really grows on you. More about it on thesession.org
I recently learned two reels from my fiddle teacher, both called Tommy Coen’s reels.
According to “The Fiddler’s Companion:”
Coen was born in Urrachree, East Co. Galway, but moved with his family to Salthill, just west of Galway City, in the late 1920s. He started out as an accordion player, but later switched to the fiddle and it is for his skill on the latter instrument he is remembered. Coen worked as a conductor on Connemara buses and is said to have been inspired by the local scenery when composing his tunes. Flute player Mike McHale was overheard to tell a story about Coen during a concert at the East Durham Irish Arts Festival in 2000 (communicated by Mike Hogan). McHale was a boy who had picked up the tin whistle, and was entertaining himself by noodling around with it during his bus ride on his way home from school. Hearing him, the vehicle’s conductor approached him a asked, “Can you play that thing?” McHale answered, “A couple of tunes, Sir.” “Well then” said the conductor, “My name is Tommy Coen, will you come to the back of the bus, I have a fiddle under the seat.” Later, according to his student Séamus Walshe (Taylors Hill, Galway), when Coen’s health failed he returned to accordion playing, “putting his fiddle playing into the box. I think he wrote a total of about six tunes.
In this video, I know the first as Tommy Coen’s (or Sean Ryan’s,) and the second as Tommy Coen’s #2. I learned them both in G minor–not sure what key the video has them in. Really nice playing here, though. Enjoy!
By way of making up for not having the tune on the website yet, here a couple of versions of the tunes that we learned at the last session that I found on YouTube.
The Toureendarby–(incidentally, this is an interesting YouTube channel. You can actually watch these lads grow up before your eyes if you watch all their videos. Definitely worth checking out.)
A Finnish Polka, and more, by Steve and Terry!