One last nod to St. Patrick’s Day and the theme of Irish music–at least, for now.
Here is a medley played on zither, alto recorder (called treble in the UK and elsewhere), and lyre. It contains “Star of the County Down,” which is a traditional Irish tune, and “Carolan’s Dream,” written by Turlough O’Carolan.
I call this “I Dream of County Carolan,” as a way of bringing the titles together. There is really no such county in Ireland. 🙂
“Star of the County Down” is played on zither. “Carolan’s Dream” begins with recorder and is then played on lyre. This is great for relaxation, stress relief, and meditation.
I hope you enjoy this, and feel free to download and share the mp3 above!
I wrote this song in 2002 as part of my Senior Graduation Project, a CD of 12 songs in 4 languages. My original version had lyrics in German and English, with guitar, pennywhistle, and hand percussion accompaniment.
Here’s an instrumental version on zither. Look out, it goes by quickly!
Also, check out my dream of writing a round (a musical round, that is), here.
This melody is the setting to a poem
by William Butler Yeats, first published in 1889. It’s Irish title is “Gort na Saileán.”
In 1909 Herbert Hughes set the poem to the traditional tune “The Maids of Mourne Shore.” Though other composers have set it to different music, this is perhaps the best known melody, and “Down by the Salley Gardens” is still a popular song today.
I hope you enjoy hearing it on zither, arranged for 15 strings.
If you want to learn this tune, please feel free to contact me
for a free tutorial, and don’t forget to download the performance mp3 above.
Another traditional Irish tune on zither, this one is called “The South Wind.” I arranged it for a small zither with 15 strings, tuned in C. I hope you enjoy, and if you’d like a free tutorial to learn this tune by ear, just contact me!
Here is a beautiful, traditional Irish air, played on zither (also called a lap harp or plucked psaltery).
The melody was first published in 1775. In 1808, the poet Thomas Moore wrote the lyrics that give this tune its well-known title.
As the story goes, his young wife was afraid of losing her looks (Can you say vanity?), and he wrote the lyrics to reassure her that, even if all her “endearing young charms” faded, he would still love her.
The melody is also used for the alma mater of Harvard University, “Fair Harvard.” You can hear this below, and I hope you enjoy my zither arrangement as well!
Here are 3 Irish/Celtic tunes played in succession. The first one is original, called “O’Carolan’s Lyre.”
Turlough O’Carolan was a blind Irish harper, who lived from 1670-1738. About 300 of his tunes are still in existance today. I’ve always wondered whether O’Carolan was totally blind. And either way, how did he travel from place to place? Did he stay in one place for a while and compose music for food, room and board, and/or pay? We may never know. We do know that he played the harp, and most likely it was a wire strung harp. If you haven’t heard one, it has a bright ringing sound, much brighter and more sustained than the nylon or gut strung harps we’re used to hearing.
I’m no O’Carolan, and what I’m playing here is not a harp, but a lyre. That’s where the first tune gets its name. I wrote “O’Carolan’s Lyre” as a tribute to this well-known, but still mysterious blind harper of the 17th and early 18th century.
The tunes that follow were composed by O’Carolan. They are “Brian Boru’s March” and “Planxty Eleanor Plunkett.” Each of these 3 pieces has an A section and a B section. I play them in the form AABB.