Clementi & Co., London, 1809
Bunting - A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland
111premiums were distributed according to their respective merits; of the ten, only two surviveat this day . Those, who about twenty-two years before had heard the delicate touchesand whispering notes of DOMINICK Mu N GA N, the harper, knew the capahi1i y of theinstrument , and had sufficient reason to regret the declension of the art.The editor was appointed to note down the airs played on the occasion, and cautionedagainst adding a single note to old melodies, which would seem to have passed, in theirpresent state, through a long succession of ages. Though collected from parts distant fromeach other, and taught by different masters, the harpers always played them in the samekeys, and without variation in any essential passage or note. This circumstance seemed themore extraordinary when it was discovered that the most ancient tunes were, in this respect,the most perfect, admitting of the addition of a bass with more facility than such as were lessancient. It was remarked, that their instrunhents were tuned on one uniform system, thoughthe performers on them were ignoi ant of the principle.A principal motive in convening this feeble remnant of the bards, was to procure purercopies of tunes already in the hands of practitioners, and to perpetuate a variety of otherextremely ancient ones, of which no copies existed, and which were therefore the more likelyto be lost; these ends proposed, were partially obtained by the meeting alluded to, and havebeen since perfected through the editors labours.Conversant as he is in the compositions of the Italian and German schools, he is con-vinced that where public taste is pure, the original music of Ireland will be heard withdelight. The performer will please to reni.einber, that the old melodies of a country, and itslanguage, are analogous; that there are idiomatic delicacies in both, to enter into the spirit ofwhich, practice and strict attention to the time of each air is necessary, and that is peculiarlythe case with the earliest compositions. Geminiani, a thmous composer himself, acknow-ledged that he had blotted many a quire of paper to no purpose in attempting to compose asecond strain to the charming Scottish air, The Broom of Cowden Knows j , which, com-pared with these, is a composition of modern date.Whatever the success of this work may be, the compiler has satisfaction in reflecting, thatthe greater part of it consists of airs never published before, and that it was his lot to arre sttheir flight when on the point of vanishing for ever. Almost every one of those humbleminstrels, who were the principal repositories of them, have since paid the debt of nature,and their Harps are heard no moreThe rolls of Fame I will not now explore,Nor need I here describe in learned layHow forth the minstrel fared in days of yore,Right glad of heart, though homely in array,His waving beard and locks all hoary grey;While from his bending shoulder decent hung1-us Harp, the sole companion of his way;$yhjch to the whistling wind responsive rung,And ever, as he went, some merry lay he sung.BEATrIE.A meeting of harpers similar to this had been held in 1q84, at Granard in the county of Longford, in consequenceof premiums offered by a native of that town settled in Denmark.f Dr. Beattie on Poetry and Music.An attempt is now making in Belfast to extend the existence of the Harp, by a society of gentlemen who have raiseda liberal subscription for the purchase of instruments and the tuition of harpers.
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