O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 51

O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 51
Favourite | Share | Feedback


periodical Publisher
Regan Printing House, Chicago, 1913
periodical Editor
periodical Title
O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians
volume Number
issue Content
Irish Folk .1VlusicA Precious Heritage loTCHAPTER XIRISH FOLK MUSICA PRECIOUS HERITAGEA voice beside the dim, enchanted river,Out of the twilight where the brooking treesHear the Shannons druid water chant foreverTales of dead kings and bards and shan chies;A girls young voice out of the twilight singingOld songs beside the legendary streamaA girls clear voice, oer the wan waters ringing,Beats with its wild wings at the Gates of Dream.The nagger leaves, whereon shy dewdrops glisten,Are swaying, swaying gently to the. sound;The meadow-sweet and spearmint, as they listen,Breathe wistfully their wizard balm around;And there, alone with her lone heart and heaven.Thrush-like she sings, and lets her voice go free;Her soul, of all its hidden longing shriven,Soars on wild wings with her wild melody.Sweet in its plaintive Irish modulations,Her fresh young v)ice tuned to old sorrows seems,The passionate cry of countless generationsKeenes in her breast as there she sings and dreams.No more, sad voice; for now the dawn is breakingThrough the long night, through Irelands night of tears.New songs wake in the morning of her awakingFrom the enchantment of eight hundred years.Dr. Todhunter.Wit AT charm there is in the name? What memories does it not awaken? Whatfeelings does it not arouse in the breasts of the Sons and daughters of Erin.whose hearts beat true to the cherished institutions of their race, since humanemotions found expression in musical tones? Folk Music is the music of thesong that lives in the hearts and voices of the peopleto use the words of thegreat Dominican, Father Tom Burkethe national songs you will bear fromthe husbandman in the field following the piow; from the old woman singingto the infant on her knee; from the milkmaid coming from the milking; from theshoemaker at his work, or the blacksmith at the forge while he is shoeing thehorse; or as Dr. Joyce expresses it: the peoples pastimes, occupations, and dailylife were mixed up with tunes and songs. The women sang at the spinningwheel; plowmen whistled tunes to soothe their horses; girls sang their gentlermilking songs which the cows enjoyed. Parents and nurses put their childrento sleep with their charming melodies, laborers beguiled their work with songsof various kinds to which their fellow workmen listened with quiet enjoyment,mind at the last scene of all, the friends of the dead gave vent to their sorrow in aheartrending cOoine or lament.The Folk Music and songs of a nation are treasured, because they were con-ceived as a melodious poetic expression of the sentiments and feelings of thepeople. Genuine expression of a nations soul in tuneful melody cannot be pro-duced to order, for the strains which live are the offspring of inspiration or thespontaneous flow of thought in timely accord with the general social conditionsof the people.Folk l usic then is the true national melody handed down traditionally forcenturies with surprising fidelity, until in the more ciivlized and cultured timeit has been interpreted into musical notation. Irish music has been admiredwherever its melting strains have been heard, and it has been said that theIrishmans whole life is set to song. He is crooned to sleep in his cradle byimmemorial lullabies, and the weird wail of the caoine follows him to the grave,for as Ida Haggerty Snell says : Music seems to be a part of mans nature bywhich he expresses thoughts that otherwise could not be revealed.Music was held in much repute in the ancient world as a curative agent,Lady \Vilde says in her quaint work.. incient Cures, Charms, and Usages ofIreland besides being the inspiration that gave force to life, stimulating or sooth-ing as the moment required, for music above all the arts has a subtle power overthe nervous system, and is able to interpret and direct, all the sudden, swiftand varied phases of human emotion. it can stir the soul to its inmost depthstill the tears fall in silent sorrow or fill the brain with a passionate enthusiasmwhich is a prophecy of victory.The Irish from the earliest times have shown their belief in the mysticinfluence of music upon life, and their legends record how the musician couldsooth the wounded and calm the dying.Practically all Irish music may be classed as Folk Music, for original com-position distinctively Irish in character, we are told ceased on the death ofPiper Jackson. and Parson Sterling late in the eighteenth century.In the world of modern music Irish composersmany of themhave won(listmnction since that time, but the songs and ballads of the people continuedto he sung to the old traditional strains, and few indeed were the musicianswho would care to play any tunes but the haunting melodies of the olden days.OCarolan alone of all the bards was the exception who, influenced largelyby the music of Geminiani departed from the purely Irish style in composition.In conceding that he has produced some airs of surpassing ten(lerness an(l ofpurely Irish structure, we may ask; who sings or plays them, and why are theyneglected while a thousand folk airs and tunes, of unknown paternity are inpromiscuous circulation?The Italian peasant while working in the vineyard, Father Burke tells us,has no music except two or three high notes of a most melancholy character.I he peasants of Tuscany and of Campagna, -hen after their (lays work theymeet in the summer evenings to have a (lance, have no music but the beating of atambourine. But go to Ireland listen to the old -oman as she rocks in herchair, and pulls clown the hank of flax for the spinning; listen to the girl comingrom the held with the pail of milk on her head, and what do you hear? Themost magnihcent melody of music. Go to the country merrymakings, and youwill be sure to find the old fiddler or old white haired piper, an infinite source ofthe brightest and most sparkling music.Yever was there a nation which ha(l such a wealth of Folk Musicaninfinite varietytefl(ler love songs, witty ballads, deeply emotional poems set tohaunting melodies as Ireland and the Irish.musicians have been found to question the assertion that IriTh Folk\Iusic is on the whole the finest that exists : it ranges with wonderful ease overthe whole gamut of human emotions from the cradle to the battlefield, and is100
issue Number
page Number
periodical Author
O'Neill, Capt. Francis
issue Publication Date

O'Neill - Irish Minstrels and Musicians

Related Keywords