Grattan Flood - A History of Irish Music, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 10

Grattan Flood - A History of Irish Music, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 10
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periodical Publisher
Browne and Nolan Ltd, Dublin 1913
periodical Editor
periodical Title
Grattan Flood - A History of Irish Music
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sweeter ti-ian the warblings of a melodious harp; suchpeace and concord reigned among them that no musiccould delight them more ti-ian the sound of each othersvoice. In the same ancient tract there is mentionmade of music, in the Visioit of Cahir Mor, King ofIreland. However, passing over the ages that may beregarded as quasi.fabujoi s, we come to the close ofthe third century, when we are on fairly solid historicalground. At this early period the number of Irishminstrels was very great; and there is a record of ninedifferent musical instruments in use.Heccataeus, the great geographer quoted by Diodorus,is the first who mentions the name Celt, and he describesthe Celts of Ireland, five hundred years before Christ,- as singing songs in praise of Apollo, and playing melodiously on the harp. The Galatians, who spoke Celticin the time of St. Jerome, sang sweetly.There is scarcely any room for doubt that the pre-Christian inhabitants of Ireland had the use of letters,the ogham scale, and the ogham music tablature. TheBressay inscription furnishes an early example of musicscoring; and it is quite apparent that the inscriberregarded the oghani and the quaint tablatui-e employedas one and the samein fact, three of the mystic strokesare identical with three musical signs,*Inasmuch, therefore, as there are genuine oghaminscriptions dating from the third century, we are forcedto believe that the music tablature also co-existed at thesame early period. Not a little remarkable is it thatthe very name of ogham writing, namely, Beihluisn ,or Birch Alder tree, is derivable from a tree or branch;* See OgI-tam Readings, ournaz .R.S.A,, 1857, p. 328.ANCIENT IRISH MUSIC. 5and the Irish letterssixteen in numberare perfectlyunique of their kind. Moreover, the trees were calledafter the letters, and not, as some have alleged, theletters after the trees.The music pupils in pre-Christian Irish schools hadtheir music staves; and OCurry describes for us theHeadless Staves of the Poets, i.e., squared staves, usedfor walking (or purpose of defence), when closed, andfor writing on, when open, in the shape of fans. And,regarding the advanced state of our ancient bardicpoetry, Constantine Nigra writes : The first certainexamples of rhyme are found on Celtic soil and amongstCeltic nations, in songs made by poets, who are eitherof Celtic origin themselves or had long resided amongthe Celtic races. . . . Final assonance, or rhyme, canhave been derived solely from the laws of Celticphilology.Archbishop Healy tells us that St. Patrick taughtthe sons of the bards how to chant the Psalms of David,and sing together the sweet music of the Churchshymns. He adds: They might keep their harps andsing the songs of Erins heroic youth, as in the days ofold. But the great saint taught them how to tune theirharps to loftier strains than those of the banquet hall orthe battle march. *Apropos of the Psalms of David, Biblical commentatorsagree that the music of the Apostolic age was derived* As regards the absurd theory that St. Patrick introduced lettersinto Ireland, it is only necessary to quote Colgan, the venerablehagiologh-t. who tells us that Dubhthach MacLu air, Arch.Poet ofIreland, had taught St.- Fiacc of Sletty, and had sent him a littlebefore into Connaught to present SOIJZe of his poems to the princes ifflint country. St. Patrick may posribly have introduced the Romanletters, but it must be borne in mind that the pre Patrician Irish hadtheir Irish alphabet centuries previously.4rHISTORY OF IRISH MUStC.S
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Grattan Flood, Wm. H.
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Grattan Flood - A History of Irish Music

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