Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 13

Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 13
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periodical Publisher
Clementi & Co., London, 1809
periodical Editor
Edward Bunting
periodical Title
Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland
volume Number
issue Content
4to all others . The attention of this people to mu-sical instruments, I find, said he, worthy of corn-inendation, in which their skill is beyond comparison, superior to that of any nation I have seen. For inthese, the modulation is not slow and solemn, as in the instruments of Britain to which we are accustomed, but the sounds are rapid and precipitate, yet, at the same time, sweet and pleasing. It is wonderful how, in suchprecipitate rapidity of the fingers, the musical propor-tions are preserved, and by their art faultless through-out: in the midst of their complicated modulations, and most intricate arrangement of notes, by a rapidity sosweet, a regularity so irregular, a concord so discordant,the melody is rendered harmonious and perfect, whether the chords of the diatesseron (the fourth), or diapente(the fifth) are struck together; yet they always begin in a soft mood, and end in the same, that all may be per-fected in the sweetness of delicious sounds. They enteron, and again leave their modulations with so niuch sub tiety; and the tinklings of the small strings sport with so much freedom under the deep notes of the bass,delight with so much delicacy, and sooth so softly, that the excellence of their art seems to lie in concealing it.Concealed, it pleases; but detected, shames.This description so perfectly answers to the airs nowpublished, that it strengthens the conclusion, that theyhave not suffered in the descesst, but have come down tous in the very forms in which n e wish now to transmitthem to those who shall succeed usIn Cambrensis we find also the following passage: Itis to be observed, however, that Scotland and Wales; theCC latter, in order to disseminate the art; the former, in consequence of intercourse and affinity; strive with rival skill to emulate Ireland in music. Ireland, in-deed, employs and delights iii only two instruments,the Harp and the Tabor 1:; Scotland in three, theCCHarp, Tabor, and Chorus ; and Wales, in the Harp,the Pipes, and the Chorus. The Irish prefer strings of brass wire to those made of thongs j.It is a cotroboratioss of the accuracy of Cambrensis,that upwards of two centuries before he wrote (aboutA. D. 942) the same instruments had been given to theWelsh, as appears by the institutions of king Ilowel Dha(Howel the Good). Every chief bard to whom theprince shall grant an office, the prince shall providehim an instrument; a harp to one, a crwt/e to another,and Pzpes to a third; and when they die, the instru-ment ought to revert to the prince f We have inthis a certainty of the Pipes being a very old instrumentin Wales, and almost a certainty that neither the Irish orScottish Highianders had them in 1 1S , when Cambrensiswrote. Morfydds Pipes in Wales, we are told, werespoken of even in the seventh century.Carnbrensis con-tinues: In the opinion of many at this day, Scotlandhas not only equalled, but even far excels her mistress, Ireland, in musical skill; wherefore they seek there also the fountain, as it were, of the art * .In Ireland, bishops, abbots, and holy men are ac-In muowis SOLUM (a) irsstrsrneniis cornmenilalilern inuenic genus istius diligentias,s, iss quifus rss onsni natisne, quails i 7 sdirnus, incornparafiliier instructs est. Nsn cairn in isis, sicut in BRITAacSeTCIS, qssilus aosneti sunsus, instrssmentis tarda ci ssssrssa est rnodulatio, serum seineat pr eceps, suavis tarneis et jucanda ,Sonsritas .IIirssns quorl in tan (a tam Pra?cipiti disiitorurn rapacitate, snusica sertitur propertis, et erie peronznia indemni, inter crispatos rnsduiss, organaque ssssiltipliei!cr intricata, tans snarl velocitate, tasss thspami pants/c; tans discordi csncsrdid, cs sssnacedditsir et csssspletssr rnelsdia. Sen diatesserssse, se a aa:p nte clsordre conescient, aesssper (assess ui [ Hi. Jlslli inripiunt ci in idern redennt, atcuncta suljueundw sonoritatis duleedine compleant sir. Tans assltzliter sssolulsa intrant ; at exeunt ; swque sub ni/ass gross uris clssrdce sonitu, grscilissnst tinni/us licentius ludussi, latentius, deleetanf, lasieiusque dernulcent sit pars artis soa,sisoa rideatnr ar/ens relare; taos quasiSi latest, prosil ; feral ars deprensa. [ Cambrensi Topog. Hib. distinct III. C. 2.j Gibson, bishop of London, translator of Camslens Britannia, relates the following anecdote of a harper: Near Ballyshanison were, slot many years ago, dug up two pieces of gold, discovered by a method very remarkable. The bishop of Derry happening to be at dinner, there camean Iris/s harper and sung an old song to the Harp. His lordship not understanding In-h was at a loss to know the meaning of the song, but, upon enquiry, he found the substance of it to be this: that in such a place (naming the very spot a nsan of a gigantic stature lay buried, and that over his breast and back were plates of pure gold, and on his fingers rings of gold, so large that rn ordinary man could creep through themthe place was so exactly described, that two persons thece present were tesupted to go in jssest of the galden pri which the harpers song hadpointed Out to them, After they had dug for souse tinse they found two thin pieces of gold. [ The form and size of these are represented its Sir I. %Vares Antiquities of Ireland.] This discovery encouraged then s next nsornitag to search for the remainder, but they could meet with nothing more. Two holes Ira the middle of the piece seem to have been made for the snore convenient tying it to the arm or some hart of the body.[ Camd.Brit. Ed. i7 tt, p. 141!.]This incident reminds us of the tradition, that in the reign of Brien Boirorrnhe, a Young lady of great beauty, adorned with jewels and its costlydress, undertook stjourney from one end of the kingdom to the other, front the north of Ireland to Tsrne Chad/hut in the south, with a wand onlyin her hand, at the top of which was a ring of exceeding great value. Such an impression had the laws and government uf that sssssssarch made usathe minds of the people, that no attempt was made upon her honour, nor was she robbed of her clothes or jewels. [ Warners lust, of Ireland,In Trevisas translation of Higdens Polychrossicon of the thirteenth century, in describing ancient Irish manners, we dud this obsersationScotland, the daughter of Ireland, use Harp, Tymbre (Timbrel), and Tabor. Netheless, Irishmen be cunning its two issansser instrusneists ofmusic, in Harp and Tysnbre, that is armed with wire and strings of hrass, in which inuraiments, thu they play hastily and swiftly, they makeright merry harmony and melody with i/sep/se (those) tunes, and warbles, and notes, and begin with fe nsn!ls, and play secretly under dim soundunder the great strings, and turn again unto the same, so that the greater part of the craft hsisleth the craft, as it woud seem as though the craft so hid, shoud be ashamed, if it were take. It has been alleged mite risers was tile drones of a bagpipe, also, that it was a kinsl of double trumpet.See figure of the Harp, Plates I. II. anti III. rabr>r IT. No. 7. Crwth IV. N t . C. Leges Wahlicte.Notandussm Vera, qusdScsiia Is Gseallia hae Prsjsagatisssis us cssnmeatis.ssis IS a/jhnuta/is ga/ia IJiI ernians in snodulis aimula imitarj sai/unter(sm) This ex lssessisas shears, at least, that the author slid not waite under a partial bias towardt Ireland.
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