A variety of topics related to Irish music ranging from history to current events to technique to technology will be featured at the O’Flaherty Retreat. Our enrichment classes serve to make Irish music more a part of who we are as we strengthen our ties to this tradition. See SCHEDULE for the times and days of these classes.
American Influences in the Accompaniment of Irish Music — Kevin Corbett
This presentation examines the unique influence American music has had on the the treatment of and approaches towards accompaniment in the wider Irish Traditional Music context. Travelling across the decades it will focus on chord choices, rhythmic styles and other tools in the accompanist’s arsenal and is not instrument specific.
Getting Your Rhythmic House in Order — Cara Wildman & Jim DeWan
Every great accompanist knows that the key to great accompaniment is listening to the person you’re accompanying. When there are two accompanists, though, they must listen not only to the tune, but, to each other as well. By playing off of each other as well as off of the main melody, the sound produced by the rhythm section becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Come for the strategies for musical communication between drummers and stringed accompaniment and stay for the laughs!
How to Practice Effectively — Lexi Boatright
Do you ever feel like your playing has hit a wall? Can you imagine how you want your tune to sound but you just can’t make your fingers do it? Have you ever wondered why it’s worth it to understand music theory fundamentals or how that knowledge could be applied to actual music making? Join Lexi in learning practice techniques to tackle common frustrations in learning Irish music. We will discuss how to identify what is the root cause of a problem, how to triage technical difficulties and prioritize your practice time, and tools to make that tricky section feel effortless. Every problem can be solved if you know what tool to use! This class is suitable to every instrument.
Irish Music Accompaniment and the Transformation of Irish Music: 1962-1975 — Brian Miller
From the art music-inspired experimentation of Seán Ó Riada through the folk boom-fueled introduction of bouzoukis and DADGAD-tuned guitars, the ’60s and early ’70s were a time of new instruments and approaches to Irish music accompaniment. Some became staples of performances and sessions while others have since faded away. We will look back at and listen to this fascinating era and consider the thinking behind the innovations.
Loving and Lamenting in the Irish Tradition — Nuala Kennedy
In this class we will listen to some of our most famous and beautiful love songs, and discuss what it is that makes them so powerful. On the flip side, as songwriter Nick Cave wrote: “Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable.” We will also explore some laments from the Irish tradition which speak to our experience of loss. Please feel free to share with our group some of your own favorite songs on this theme!
Music Theory for Traditional Musicians — Baron Collins-Hill
Music Theory is a huge topic, but as an Irish traditional musician, there is only so much that you really need to know. Over the course of the hour, Baron will break down what you need to know, why, and some historical context for some of the music theory traditions found in Irish traditional music. Time will be spent exploring both melodic and harmonic (chordal) theory and traditions. No experience necessary, and open to all instruments, dancers, and singers.
New York’s Legendary Irish Fiddlers — Brian Conway
Brian will share a selection of recordings archived by the Burns library at Boston College. The music is part of the Joe Lamont Collection and will feature selections from Andy McGann, Paddy Reynolds, Larry Redican, Martin Wynne, Louis Quinn, Paddy Killoran and Lad O’ Beirne. Brian will offer his thoughts and lead a discussion on these musical greats who called New York their home.
The Rhythm of Rolls — Katie Geringer
Ornamentation is used to create and accentuate rhythm and can also provide variation and contribute to one’s individual and unique sound. Using reference recordings, we’ll examine a variety of roll examples and make note of the rhythm they create, plus any use of pitch and emphasis that combine to create a particular sound. We’ll try out each example together in hopes that you’ll find some you like and can add to your arsenal of ornaments for varied, rhythmic playing.
Steps & Tunes: A Session for Dancers and Musicians — Maldon Meehan
This is a great opportunity for musicians and dancers to get together and play in a fun and supportive environment. Everyone is welcome here, from experienced dancers and musicians to curious beginners. We encourage everyone to join in and try something new! All too often, musicians only get to play for dancers, but there is a symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines that is really special. This session provides a wonderful opportunity for us to explore that relationship and create something truly magical. So come on in, have some fun, and let’s make some beautiful music together!
The Story of the Irish Harp — Gráinne Hambly
The harp is the emblem of Ireland, and in fact it was inscribed on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in 2019. This presentation tells the story of our national instrument, taking us on a journey from the earliest days of the magical harp featured in Irish mythology, through the history of the bards, the story of Carolan, to the decline, preservation and eventual revival of the Irish harp. It is illustrated with PowerPoint slides and musical examples, with plenty of opportunity for informal Q&A.
Telling Stories through Ballads — John Doyle
Telling stories through songs is definitively Irish, and John Doyle will explore this wonderful tradition through examples and discussion.
What’s in a Name? — Niamh Ní Charra
A presentation on the stories, traditions and conventions behind the naming of tunes in traditional Irish music.