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!
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.
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.
Johann Pachelbel wrote one of the most popular pieces of classical music, commonly called “Canon in D Major” or simply “Pachelbel’s Canon.” It is unclear when he wrote it, but suggested dates range from 1680 to 1706.
Here, Pachelbel’s recognizable bass pattern meets the traditional tune “Danny Boy,” or “Londonderry Air.”
I hope you enjoy my lyre arrangement, played in C instead of D Major, combining these timeless and beautiful elements!
“Be Thou My Vision” is a popular traditional hymn, especially in the United Kingdom. The melody is an Irish folk tune called “Slane,” which dates back to the 6th or 8th century. Here is my arrangement of this beautiful hymn played on lyre.
In this tutorial I teach the melody and several harmony options by ear. I tell you all the notes and chords, and demonstrate the melody and each harmony part separately. Though I’m playing a lyre, you can use this arrangement for other instruments, including zither, small harp, piano, or keyboard. You can also use the melody tutorial for any C tuned melody instrument.
Click the following link to download a .zip file of the entire tutorial. When you unzip the file, you will find 13 mp3 files. “Be Thou My Vision” Tutorial
If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I hope you enjoy this arrangement and tutorial, and the lovely sound of this lyre!
“Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes” is a poem
written by English playwright Ben Johnson. First published in 1616, it is addressed “To Celia.” Johnson’s poem has been published in many poetry collections, as well as song books. The tune may have been a folk song, or may have been written to specifically set the poem to music–no one knows. We may never know who wrote the tune, or who Celia was, but we have a classic song in any case.
I first played this song as a young violinist (no, you don’t want to hear that!) and then on recorder (much better!) Here it is on zither, in a contemplative arrangement.