Lark in the Clear Air

 Contemplative Melodies from Ireland

(You may listen to 30 seconds of each song on the "Listen/Buy CDs" page.)

    1. Dawning of the Day (6:55)
    2. Treasure of My Heart (6:00)
    3. Lark in the Clear Air (5:50)
    4. Carolan's Ramble to Cashel (7:47)
    5. Over the Hills/Ned of the Hill (5:53)
    6. Dew on the Grass (7:25)
    7. Banks of Sullane (7:12)

    Total Time (47:37)


In   Lark in the Clear Air: Contemplative Melodies from Ireland,  I have integrated my own spirit and musical voice into my deep love of Celtic music.  This traditional music, which has passed through the hearts and hands of musicians for hundreds of years, parts the veil between us and the world of long ago.  When rendered on the piano, it becomes harp-like, with a haunting lyricism of melody, and a mystical shimmer of harmony.  


This is a recording of lesser known traditional music, but music which fits my quiet and reflective musical style.  In most cases, lyrics were added to an ancient air which already existed.  I was more interested in the music itself, rather than the lyrics, though I did get musical ideas for interpretation from the titles.  Many of the songs are nature based.  Several even include creative transcriptions of bird calls.   Because of the wealth of music from the Celtic regions of the world, for this recording,  I chose to focus solely on the traditional music of Ireland.   Future recordings will feature music from other Celtic lands.

 

The Dawning of the Day   is an old Irish air, attributed to the 17th Century blind harpish, Thomas Connellan. His name for the tune was “The Golden Star.” The song also goes by the Gaelic name Fainne Geal an Lae, (The Bright Ring of the Day). The melody of this song was used by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh for his poem, “On Raglan Road.”


Treasure of My Heart   is a lovely slow air. Its Irish name is A Stor Mo Chroi, also translates as “O Love of my Heart.” The tune is a variation of Bruach na Carraige Baine (At the Edge of the White Rock).


Lark in the Clear Air   is best known today as a tender love song, with lyrics written by Samuel Ferguson of Belfast around 1850. His tune was based on an ancient air. This arrangement, incorporates my creative transcription of an Irish lark's bird call.

Dear thoughts are in my mind, and my soul soars enchanted.
As I hear the sweet lark sing in the clear air of the day.
For a tender, beaming smile to my hope has been granted,
And tomorrow she shall hear all my fond heart would say.

I shall tell her all my love, all my soul's adoration,
And I think she will hear me, and will not say me nay.
It is this that gives my soul all its joyous elation,
As I hear the sweet lark sing in the clear air of the day.


Carolan's Ramble to Cashel   is a tune by the late 17th Century blind Irish harper, Turlough o'Carolan.  For almost fifty years, Carolan journeyed from one end of the country to the other, composing and performing his tunes.  He typically composed the tune first - as he rode from place to place - then added words later.  Many of the tunes attributed to Carolan are older traditional melodies that he improved or lengthened.  There are many places in Ireland called "Cashel."   This piece perhaps refers to one in County Roscommon.

 

Over the Hills / Ned of the Hill Medley.    De Bharr na gCnoc  (Over the Hills) is a lovey, rarely recorded slow air.   Eamonn an Chnoic  (Ned of the Hill) is a popular tune with traditional Irish musicians.

 

The Dew on the Grass.   This tune was first collected in the early 19th century.   Very little is known about it, and it is rarely performed or recorded.   At the time of this recording, I had not yet heard any recordings.    I found the sheet music in a book of penny whistle music by Robin Williamson.


The Banks of Sullane.    The River Sullane flows by the town of Macroom, County Clare. It is another song that I was unable to find backgound information on.

 

Recorded in January, 2011 at Dead Aunt Thelma's Recording Studio, Portland, OR, on a Steinway B Grand Piano. Sound engineer: Mike Moore. Design by the Design Studio at Disc Makers.

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