Accompaniment — Annmarie Acosta
This class will explore accompaniment as applied to traditional Irish Music. Students will learn to provide accompaniment that will support and compliment the melody. Chord building, chord progressions, voicing, harmonic and rhythmic variation will be covered. All instruments are welcome. All levels, no experience necessary.
Accompanying Songs on Traditional Non-accompanying Instruments — Brenda Castles
Learn how to accompany the songs on your non-accompanying instrument. Many melody players get all in a muddle when someone sings a song at the session. Do I play? Do I say quiet? Should I just play the song melody over and over or can I be more creative? What’s complementary and what’s too much?
America through the Eyes of an Immigrant Irish Musician — James Keane
James found that maintaining his standards of playing Irish traditional music in New York was a lot different compared to playing in Ireland. In this class, he will introduce participants to the music of many of the mighty musicians that he befriended in America over his 53 years here.
A Musical Vision: the Blind Tradition — Catherine McEvoy
There have been many notable blind musicians linked to the Irish Tradition and no less other folk traditions throughout the world. Catherine McEvoy will trace the influence of early blind musicians leading up to the present day. In her role as a music teacher in the only Centre for the Education of Blind and Visually Impaired Children in the south of Ireland, Catherine will be able to give you an insight into the world of the blind musician and an idea of the contribution made to the Tradition by those that have gone before while introducing you to a new generation of blind and visually impaired musicians who you may not otherwise have an opportunity to hear.
The Anglo Concertina: A Closer Look — Michael Rooney
The Anglo concertina, a member of the “free reed’ family that includes accordions and harmonicas, is considered one of the most versatile instruments found in the Irish music tradition. It is capable of playing chords, melodies and often both at the same time in the hands of an experienced player. But the real wonder of the concertina is the lovely, warm sound that is produced by bellows, buttons and reeds that fit snugly in a small package. Michael Rooney, an All-Ireland titlist on harp and concertina, demonstrates the instrument and discusses its integration into the music tradition after it was developed in the early 1800s.
An Introduction to the Music of Sliabh Luachra — Robert Ryan
The area of Sliabh Luachra, where the counties of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick are conjoined, has long been recognized as home to one of Ireland’s richest and most unique musical legacies. The area was renowned for its poets and musicians throughout the centuries, and its isolation and fierce independence have helped to forge a unique culture which remained relatively undiminished by modern influences until far into the twentieth century. This presentation will introduce some of the key musicians who helped to preserve the styles, influences, and repertoire of the older generation, and explore how a handful of exceptional teachers and performers helped preserve a link between the music of the nineteenth century, and the vibrant musical tradition that continues to thrive in Sliabh Luachra, and across the world, to this day.
Are Regional Fiddle Styles Disappearing? — Manus McGuire
Regional fiddle styles in Ireland are part of our identity, but are we in danger of overseeing their demise? Manus will address this issue using power point illustration with audio/visual links. An interactive Q&A session following the talk will provide a thought-provoking finale to the talk/ debate on the merits (or lack thereof) of intermingling our regional music styles, with a particular reference to the fiddle.
Arrangement for Session and Stage with Sean Earnest
Sean will explore the differences between accompanying melodies in the session environment versus an ensemble band. He will demonstrate how he approaches tune accompaniment in an informal session then share various techniques for increasing dynamics and creating more dramatic effects as though he were arranging for a band performance or recording. He’ll also address the effect that the “polished stage band” has had on the role of accompaniment within Irish music, especially as it pertains to the guitar and bouzouki.
Arranging Irish Songs for Performance — Pat Egan
In this class Pat will discuss ideas for arranging Irish songs for performance including how to select tempos and mood, where to include instrumental interludes and how to select the best key to accommodate the singer and the instrumentalists.
Arranging Tunes and Songs for Stage Performance and Recording — Gordon McLeod and David Mehalko
This class will focus on the principles and concepts of arranging tunes and songs for live performance or recording by a small ensemble . Examples from successful bands will be used to demonstrate the ideas and concepts.
A Tribute to the Music and Musicians of North Clare — Florence Fahy
The greatest musical influence of Flo’s life was her father Martin Fahy who passed on his rhythmic Clare style of playing to her. Along with Martin, Chris Droney and Tommy McCarthy helped Flo develop her skills and talents. In this class, Flo will recall the wonderful music of North Clare and the notable musicians who have contributed to her playing as well as to the Irish music tradition.
Audio Production for Traditional Irish Music — Jack Talty
This class will focus on the technical processes such as editing, recording, mixing, and mastering of traditional Irish music but also cover some of the creative decisions involved in ‘producing’ albums, especially as it applies to the ethos and rationale behind Jack’s label Raelach Records.
A Window into the Musical Tradition of South Leitrim — Brian McNamara
The area of South County Leitrim, in the North West of Ireland, has long been recognized as possessing a rich musical heritage. For two hundred years, music collectors, musicians and most significantly, pipers have been central to the development and maintenance of a local tradition. This presentation will reference some of the prominent collectors, musicians and pipers associated with this musically rich region. The significant role of emigrants carrying this musical tradition from the region to the U.S. will also be explored.
Backing the Tunes — Alan Murray
An open class for any accompanist looking to broaden their abilities to back tunes appropriately with emphasis on the differences between learning each tune specifically versus backing tunes “on the fly.”
The Balkan Influence on Irish Music — Paddy League
From the adaptation of the Greek bouzouki to accompany Irish dance tunes and songs, to Planxty’s arrangements of Bulgarian dances, to the experiments with Eastern European rhythms and scales that resulted in bands like East Wind and shows like Riverdance — for half a century the tremendous diversity of the Balkan Peninsula’s musical cultures has exerted a profound influence on modern Irish and Celtic music. This class will consider the broad outlines of this historical trend, suggest reasons that some Balkan instruments, rhythms, and modalities have been so readily absorbed into the Irish tradition (as well as why others haven’t) and why the influence has mostly been in one direction, from East to West. We will also take a close look at the story of one particular instrument, the three-course Greek bouzouki.
Before Instruments in Cavan – The Life of Master Lilter Seamus Fay — Darren Maloney
Known as “The Cavan Lilter”, Séamus Fay hails from Drumconnick, Cavan town, where he picked up the art of lilting from listening to his mother and grandmother, both experts in the craft, and was crowned all-Ireland lilting champion in 1959,1960, 1961 and 1969. Earle Hitchner of New York’s IRISH ECHO wrote that “Séamus Fay can put to shame Irish traditional musicians half his age by dint of his inexhaustible energy, enthusiasm, and mastery of the ancient musical art known as lilting”, and that he has earned himself the title “king of the lilters.” The renowned critic adds that “Séamus is an extraordinary lilter, bringing lift, rhythm, style and soul to this often overlooked art form within the Irish musical tradition.” Darren will explore the life and musical contribution of this gifted man.
Behind the Scenes of a Band on Tour — Joanie Madden and Mirella Murray
One of the most travelled bands of all time is the group Cherish the Ladies of whom founder and leader Joanie Madden and recent addition Mirella Murray are current members. If you love Irish music, you are probably familiar with Cherish the Ladies and their incredible musical legacy, but do you know what’s under the hood of this always-in-high-gear ensemble? Joanie and Mirella will share what it’s like behind the scenes through stories and memories that you won’t find revealed anywhere else. Hear what’s great and not so great about being on the road most of the year. A must class for extremely talented women who are desiring to perform traditional Irish music fulltime for a living in faraway places around the world with a group of other likeminded female musicians. And, of course, anyone else interested in an entertaining hour.
The Belfast Harp Competition of 1792 — Therese Honey
In 1792, a 19 year-old organist Edward Bunting was hired to record the tunes played by harpers in the Belfast Harp Competition. He continued to collect traditional tunes from harpers and other instrumentalists and published three volumes of music and oral history about the harp. This class will explore the tremendous treasure discovered through Bunting’s work.
Beyond the Favorite Five: O’Carolan Wrote Some Great Tunes! — Sue Richards
Sue Richards will discuss and perform some of the lesser-known O’Carolan music, demonstrating how O’Carolan wrote both basic jigs and hornpipes along with the more familiar airs and classical-sounding continental music. Students are welcomed to bring instruments and play along or play different versions or suggest tunes to learn. There will also be a discussion about tempo and arrangements if there is interest.
Beyond the Session: The Expanding Role of the Bodhrán — Andy Kruspe
The bodhran is an integral part of Irish traditional music. However, the versatility of this frame drum has allowed artists to use it for more than just jigs and reels. From John Cage to Jazz, this multimedia presentation will cover some of the many ways that the bodhran is being utilized outside of its original context.
The Black Family Legacy: Tracing the roots of one of Ireland’s foremost family of song, and looking to the future with the younger generation — Michael Black
The Black siblings are one of the most well-known families of song in Ireland with Mary and Frances being the most well known. But their brothers Shay, Michael and Martin are also highly regarded performers both at home and in the U.S. Now there is a younger generation of family members who are taking this tradition of singing to new heights. Aoife Scott (who finished second to Christy Moore in Hot Press 2021 Best Folk/Traditional Artist of the year, and won the Irish Post Best Folk artist of the year in 2020), Danny O’Reilly of the Coronas (who won the Hot Press Best Band/Artist of the year and finished fifth in Best Male Artist of the year), Eoghan Scott (musician, composer), and Roisin O (who finished third in the Hot Press Best Female Artist of the year), are all second generation members of the family. This family has recorded over fifty albums between them and this presentation will look back at the roots of this musical family which originated both in Dublin and Rathlin Island off the coast of Antrim. It will also feature some rare audio and video examples of the vast range of songs from this family.
The Bouzouki from Greece to Galway — Pat Broaders
Pat explores the journey of the Greek bouzouki into the realm of traditional Irish music. Like other “non-Irish” instruments that have found their way into the tradition, the bouzouki was altered to fit the needs of the music. The evolution is best heard in the music of such bands as Sweeny’s Men, De Dannan, Planxty and so on.
Color and Texture and Music — Liz Knowles
Color and texture exist in the visual world around us and developing the skills to see these qualities more fully, deepen the language used to describe them and use these observations conceptually give us an interesting and useful way to understand music, both while listening and in the act of playing. This talk will introduce you to some of the ways that having a visual reference point might give you more insight into ways to improve your technique and sound, hearing music more fully, and might give you some creative ideas for arranging and composing music.
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann: An North American Perspective — Paul Keating
Since 1972 when the first branches of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (aka CCE) were formed in North America, it has shared the aims and objectives of the largest cultural movement in Ireland and Britain to preserve, promote and foster Traditional Irish music, song, dance and the Irish language in the USA and Canada. Relying on grass roots volunteer efforts it has faced many obstacles and challenges over the decades maintaining the “Living Tradition” in many cities and towns that developed into a Continental network with Provincial status equal to Ireland’s Four Provinces and Britain. How did that happen and what has it achieved in the intervening decades and perhaps just as important where does it go in the 21st Century where emigration from Ireland is severely restricted and Irish America and Irish cultural enthusiasts will have to define its goals and objectives in a new age.
Competition Versus Playing For Yourself — Dylan Foley
Dylan Foley was the Senior All-Ireland Fiddle Champion in 2014. The last time the title went to an American was 1986 when Dylan’s mentor and teacher Brian Conway won the coveted title. Competition is a difficult path for many and it takes a winning strategy. Dylan will share his approach for preparing for competition but, not surprisingly, his process gives helpful steps for any player wanting to become better on his or her instrument. He will cover tune choices, practice methods, and discuss how to gain benefits by learning from others. There will be Q and A along with a few tunes played by Dylan.
Composing Tunes — Liz Carroll
Learn how Liz writes tunes. She will explore what makes a good tune, and how she goes about composing her own.
Dance Rhythms Derived from Early Irish Poetry — Daire Bracken
With origins at least as early as the 6th century, the 12th to the 16th centuries in Ireland saw the pinnacle of structured language in the Dán Díreach. The strictest and most complex of rules governing its composition provided Daire Bracken and Lorcán Mac Mathúna an opportunity to marry Irish Lyric and Dance in a project they entitled “Preab Meadarach”. Join Daire as he reveals how the classes of these verses, Séadnadh mór; Deachnadh bheag; and more, produce lyric fastened music and tune types in complex time signatures from within the Irish heritage.
The Dance Rhythms of Traditional Irish Music — Mark Stone and Albert Alfonso
Mark will address the proper dance rhythms and how those influence the music. There is a marked difference as to how tunes are approached in ceilis and how they are in performances. Another topic to be addressed will be “time feel” within the tune. Rhythm players need to understand where they are within the tune itself as it varies from dance style. Melody players are encouraged to attend and contribute.
De-Gnarling Old Recordings of Irish Music — Kieran O’Hare
Some of the most stunning recorded performances of Irish traditional music suffer from poor audio quality, brutally bad accompaniment, challenging historical contexts, and other factors that make them difficult for the modern listener to appreciate and unravel. But the greatest windows to the past of the music–and how to make it relevant today–exist in these recordings. Kieran will talk about how to get to the heart of Irish traditional music through listening to old, difficult, and historic recordings of Irish music.
Dissecting the Irish Session — Pete Strickler
The fundamental core of Irish Traditional Music in the 21st Century is found in the Irish Session. There are Sessions to be found all over the world, from Ireland to Iowa, Japan to Jerusalem… So, what is an Irish Session? How can I find one? What if there aren’t any Sessions near me? What tunes will they play? And how do I fit in to all this? These are some of the topics that we will discuss as we explore what makes the Irish Session so widespread and integral to our tradition.
Emigration and the Development of Traditional Irish Music in Britain — John McEvoy
The History of Ireland and Britain have been deeply intertwined from the earliest of times. In particular, emigration from Ireland to Britain has been a major feature of the historical and social landscape of both countries. What has been the impact of this history on traditional Irish music? This presentation will briefly discuss from a musical perspective the influence of emigration from Ireland on Irish music in Britain. Using musical examples, discussion will focus on some of the major figures who have influenced the development of traditional music both within Britain and Ireland, their influence on younger musicians and the role of traditional music among the Irish in Britain up to the present day.
Ensemble Playing in Traditional Irish Music — Niall Vallely
Although the solo tradition is seen as being at the core of Irish traditional music, the majority of the music tends to be played in ensembles of one sort or another – groups of various shapes and sizes, ceili bands and indeed sessions. In this class Niall will take a look through the history of ensemble playing in Irish traditional music – from the early recordings of the likes of Dan Sullivan’s Shamrock Band and the Flanagan Brothers through the heyday of the Ceili Bands and the revival of the 1960s largely created by Seán Ó Riada’s experiments with Ceoltóirí Cualann up to the present day.
Expanding the Canon of Irish Music: The Music of the Sliabh Beagh Region — Seán McElwain
Currently undertaking a research Masters in DKIT, Seán will give a lecture examining the style, repertoire and performance of traditional music in the Sliabh Beagh area during the years 1860-1970.
Exploring the Connection between Irish and Appalachian Music — Frances Cunningham
Frances Cunningham will demonstrate tunes and songs which have versions on both sides of the Atlantic. Frances grew up in the Irish Traditional Music world but also spent several years playing Old Time music with the Mike Snider String Band on the Grand Ole Opry. We will discuss the differences in rhythms and phrasing between Irish and Old Time music for a more seamless transition for the musician wishing to play both.
Finding the Tune within the Tune — Eileen Gannon
While highly rhythmic accompaniment can be great, it doesn’t always complement every type of melody player’s style. We will explore a new way of accompanying Irish music by listening for “the tune within the tune” and shaping the accompaniment around it. Think sprinkles, spotlights, and shadows!
Following the Tune — John Skelton
In this presentation, John will explore a number of tunes found in the Irish tradition, demonstrating different settings and versions and showing the probable history of certain tunes. Taking as one of his examples, a song which became a strathspey which in turn became a well-known reel and related jig,eventually crossing the Atlantic where it is still played in its older setting.
The Flute Playing Style of the Northwest of Ireland — June McCormack
In this informance, June will discuss and demonstrate the rich flute tradition in the Irish music of the Leitrim, Sligo, North Connacht area of Ireland.
Forty Years of Irish Fiddling… A Few Things I’ve Learned — Randal Bays
We’re all here this week because we love Irish traditional music, but in fact, almost all of us were born here in the US, like me. What does that mean and how does it affect our approach to the music and traditions of a place that’s not our own? If you’re serious about Irish traditional music, you will have pondered these kinds of questions at some point. I’ve been playing this music for a long time, and in this talk, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned along the way and how it affects the music I play
From Birmingham to Ballyogan — Kevin Crawford
Emigration has played a huge part in bringing to foreign lands the music of Ireland. Some of this is well documented. In America, for example, the music of Michael Coleman, James Morrison, John McKenna, Lad O’Bierne, Martin Wynne, etc., is well known through their various recordings and the information gathered by musicians and scholars down through the years. Similarly over in London the likes of Bobby Casey, Roger Sherlock, Danny Meehan, Brian Rooney, Joe Ryan, Tommy McCarthy, Brendan Mulkere, etc., were all forced to leave Ireland in search of employment but retained their identity through the music. These musicians in exile spawned a whole new generation of Irish musicians and singers who in turn have continued to play an integral part in keeping our tradition such a vibrant and living one. Various cities in the U.K. have enjoyed boom periods in Irish music. Having lived through the Irish Music ‘boom’ in Birmingham during the 1980’s, Kevin will share his sense of how special and unique the the music and musicians of Birmingham were when he left late in 1989 eventually setting up home in Beautiful Ballyogan in Co Clare.
From Cork with Love: A Musical Travelogue — Máirtín de Cógáin
The Máirtín de Cógáin Project’s album “From Cork with Love” is filled with songs, stories and tunes about the Cork of my youth. These always bring me back home to the Rebel County on Ireland’s south coast by recalling its many sights, like Cork City’s bustling small back streets, the pastoral boreens of the countryside, the River Lee’s romantic allure, the Coal Quay and Grand Parade’s rustic beauty, and even the majestic castles of my ancestors in Carrigaline itself – it’s all there. This DVD, an hour long music travelogue, uses these songs, stories and tunes to guide you through Cork and her many charms, and will show you my home the way I grew up knowing it. I invite you to come along and enjoy the journey, from Cork with love.This concept has made for a great production and gaining critical acclaim for it’s ground-breaking style of mixing music with travel. Working with director-cameraman Paschal Cassidy of Dublin-based Red Shoe Productions (Imeall & Ceol ar an Imeall, TG4) who has keen insight into music through his videography for over 20 years on the Fleadh Cheoil programs and Geantraí was a perfect partner for this project. Some of Cork’s finest folk and traditional stars are featured including John Spillane, Jimmy Crowley ‘the Voice of Cork’, Matt Cranitch and Jackie Daly, as well as Máirtín’s own father, Barry, demonstrating on how to make a proper cup of tea and giving an insight into our own ancestral Cogan’s Castle.
From Sheet Music to Learning by Ear: Making the Transition — Aislinn Gagliardi
Irish music is an aural tradition, and it can be hard to bring a tune to life from sheet music, or trust our ears in learning a new tune by ear. Through instructor examples, students will learn simple tips in developing their listening skills. From the first to last note, learn how to discern keys, tune types and more so that the next time you go to a session (perhaps a session at the retreat!) you feel confident in picking out a new tune on the fly. This workshop is hands-on, so bring your instrument and an audio recording device (no video recording by students permitted)! Part or all of a tune might be learned as time allows. Open to all instruments and levels, and students should have a basic knowledge of msuic theory.
From the Floor – A Visual Album of Irish Music and Dance — Jackie O’Reilly
Jackie O’Riley and her dance partner Rebecca McGowan recently released a first-of-its-kind “visual album” of Irish dance and music, titled From the Floor. A collection of six tracks of traditional and original steps filmed in collaboration with Chris Stevens on accordion/concertina and Nathan Gourley on fiddle, From the Floor aims to bring viewers inside the space that traditional musicians and dancers inhabit when they are making music for each other. The idea is the analog to what a musician creates when they make an album. But since the focus is dance, a visual element was used to find a way to share Jackie’s and Rebecca’s work as dancers that has some permanence, and to use film to try to highlight the smaller, subtle parts of step dance and music. The Irish Echo called it “an audacious, groundbreaking, and brilliantly realized project.” From the Floor was an official selection for the 2020 Utah Dance Film Fest, and was selected for screening at the International Council for Traditional Music’s 2020 conference. The album will be screened during the class followed by discussion.
Gaining Confidence for Singing and Performing Songs — Michael Black
Michael Black hails from a musical Dublin family and he grew up in a household where singing was a normal part of daily life. Both his parents were singers, as are his sisters and brothers (Mary, Frances, Shay and Martin). Now, the next generation of Black Family is bursting on to the scene with his nephews/nieces (Eoghan and Aoife Scott, Danny [The Coronas Band] and Rose O’Reilly) all becoming emerging stars in the music business. His three young daughters (and Shay’s daughter), ranging from 10-13yrs. of age, have all been performing (singing and dancing) since they were five or six. Michael borrows from the dictum of his brother Shay, which is, “if you can hum it you can sing it”. He will offer suggestions on how to encourage singing publicly and will talk and give examples on how to select and perform songs that will be received well by audiences. Topics include gaining confidence, choice of song, delivery, and identifying the appropriate setting for a particular song.
The Gay Caballero and The Divil — Shay Black
Unusual songs and stories from the singing of Kevin and Patty Black, the parents of the Black Family siblings. Shay will relive his recollections of growing up in a musical household and how music became a central part of the five family members’ lives (Shay, Michael, Mary, Frances and Martin). That tradition is now continued with the next generation of singers and musicians within the Black Family. He will sing some of the songs that were part of the family tradition as well as recall some of the humorous stories of growing up in this household.
Gender and Uilleann Piping — Louise Mulcahy
Louise will discuss gender in regards to uilleann piping and the possible reasons for it being a male dominated tradition.
The Genius of Finbarr Dwyer (Séamus Begley and Oisín Mac Diarmada)
A major music influence on Séamus Begley, but also on accordion-playing in general, Finbarr Dwyer stands out as a supreme interpreter of tunes. This class features a personal tribute by Séamus as he brings us through some of the tunes to which Finbarr famously brought “the kiss of life”. Séamus will also share some personal recordings of Finbarr and perform alongside Oisín, examples of Finbarr’s compositions and imaginative re-interpretations of tunes.
Getting Under Your Skin: an Overview of Bodhran Making — Rob Forkner
Rob will give an overview of the methods and techniques that go into building modern bodhrans. The presentation will cover a brief history of older versus more modern construction techniques, including shell making, an overview of different tensioning systems, and on to skin preparation and selection. Students will have a chance to see the materials that go into building a bodhran as well as drums in different stages of completion.
Growing Up Among the Giants of Traditional Irish Music — James Keane
As a witness to the trials facing the traditional musicians in the 1950s and ’60s and in Dublin, a city that had, in its recent history, been a British garrison, James will introduce his class to these wonderful people, their personalities, and the roles they played in the history of traditional Irish music.
Growing Up in the Clancy Family — Aoife Clancy
This is a presentation on growing up in the Clancy family. Aoife will share stories about her experience growing up in a family steeped in music and share stories about her father Bobby Clancy of the Clancy Brothers. She will talk about her musical influences and how her father impacted her musical career. She will combine this presentation with songs passed down from her father and uncles.
Heritage, Symbol and Performance: The Transformation of the Irish Harp — Michelle Mulcahy
This class will focus on the tradition of harping in Ireland. The harp is a significant instrument in the musical, cultural and performative world. The instrument itself has long been a poignant symbol associated with Ireland and all things Irish dating back to Ireland’s mythic and political history. Within the performance realm of the harping tradition, the performance itself offers a quality of insight into human experience, an experience relational to the cultural and sonic texture associated with the instrument but also linked to a creative voice embodied in the musical style itself.
Historic Recordings of Traditional Irish Music from the early 1900s — James Kelly
James will present a collection of historic Irish music recordings from the recent past back to the early 1900s. Each historic recording will be played in its entirety, and pertinent information will be given out as each piece is introduced. Included in this collection of music will be rare recordings of piper Patsy Touhey and fiddlers Edward Cronin, Patrick Kelly, Michael Coleman, John Doherty and Bobby Casey as well as other rare recordings. A question and answer period will take place towards the end of this presentation.
History of Accompaniment in Irish Music — Eamon O’Leary
A look (and listen) back to some of the ways accompaniment has been used in the Irish tradition.
The History of Irish Music Prior to 1900 — Damien Connolly
This class takes the audience on a journey from pre-Christian Ireland to the about year 1900. Perfect for anyone seeking to learn or reacquaint themselves with the roots of the Traditional Irish Music that we love today.
Hop Jigs! — Marla Fibish
We’ll explore this delightful form — talk about how they differ from slip jigs — play so
How to Practice — Liz Knowles
Do you find that the very idea of practicing makes you tired? Do you feel like it is a drudgery? Are you bored? Or maybe you just don’t know where to start? This workshop will cover fundamentals for designing your practice time as well as giving you some tips on how to make practice effective and efficient.
How to Work With and Play Behind Singers — John Nolan
Most instrumentalists have trouble going beyond the melody, and playing in different keys can sometimes throw them out of orbit. John can’t turn everyone into a studio musician in the space of an hour, but he plans to explore some of the “tricks of the trade” in accompanying singers that can improve your efforts. The goal is to make people a little more comfortable about working with singers without walking all over the songs.
The Humble Tin Whistle — Kevin Crawford
Its place and its potential in Irish music.
Identity and Accent in Ethnomusicology — Jimmy Crowley
This class considers identity and accent in ethnomusicology, using the ethnographical work of Jimmy Crowley on the Cork urban ballads as a reaction to the Dublin orientation of the folk scene in Ireland in the sixties and seventies.
The Immigration of Sligo Fiddlers to America — Brian Conway
A discussion of Sligo fiddlers who emigrated to New York from Ireland in the 1920s through the 1950s and the players they influenced. It will involve listening to both professional recordings as well as some wonderful private recordings belonging to Brian.
The Impact of Harps on Irish Culture Through the Ages — Therese Honey
Therese will give a brief overview of harps in Irish history, and how they, and the musicians who played them, impacted the Irish culture. The class will look at the political topics of the period when harps were banned and why, some common iconography found on coins, flags, coats of arms, etc., and how the harp, which is the national symbol of Ireland, is making a resurgence within the Irish culture today.
The Importance of Listening — Kelly Gannon
This class will demonstrate exceptional musical partnerships, discuss the difference between solo and group playing, and examine audible examples in light of the surprising lack of listening in musical performance and practice.
Interpreting Slow Airs — Aoife Granville
This class will explore the interpretation of Irish airs and how to perform them convincingly. The class will look at the connection of the airs to their respective songs and will include some participation for attendees (singing and playing). A song and air will be quickly taught by ear to demonstrate how learning the song informs the playing of the air. Phrasing and movement of the airs will be also be discussed
The Irish Balladeer- a Treasure House of Irish Culture — Danny O’Flaherty
The importance of the baladeer in keeping Irish traditional song alive is the topic of this lecture.
The Irish Catskills: Where History Looks Forward — Paul Keating
This year the Catskills Irish Arts Week in East Durham, New York will celebrate 25 years as the largest summer school devoted to Traditional Irish Music in North America. Overlaid in an Irish-American village in the Northern Catskills, the music and dance camp began very small in 1995 but has welcomed thousands of students and devotees ever since to the annual week which has been described as the “Willie Clancy School” of North America. This discussion will take a look at the origins and importance of traditional music and dance in the greater New York area and how it evolved. That evolution helped revive a dormant Irish resort area into a very significant crossroads in the USA with a real Irish village experience that drew from the historical path the Irish took to the Catskills and became a vital link fostering Irish culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
Irish Dance Terminology — Kieran Jordan
Irish dancing — is it sean-nós dancing or “old style” step? What’s the difference? Doesn’t sean-nós mean “old style”? What about a ceili? Why are there no ceili dances — only sets? Is that set dancing? What about solo sets? Solo sets are part of the step dance tradition. They can be “traditional” or original, modern sets. Why do dancers talk this way, and what is it all about?! This enrichment class will explain and illustrate the terminology and various styles of Irish dance, through history, video examples, and live demonstration.
The Irish Harp – Past and Present — Grainne Hambly
Grainne Hambly will present a lecture/recital on the history of Ireland’s national emblem, from its earliest depictions and descriptions up to the present day. Illustrated with musical examples.
Irish Influenced Lumber Camp Folk Songs of the Great Lakes — Brian Miller
Through the 1800s, a distinct tradition of singing developed in the pine woods of Atlantic Canada, Maine and the Ottawa Valley that spread westward across the Great Lakes. Men supplemented summer work on farms and sailing ships with winters in logging camps where they sang to pass the evening hours in the bunkhouses. The rich repertoires possessed by the many immigrant Irishmen in the early camps had a defining influence on this evolving musical style. Over time, those born into tight-knit logging communities in the east carried songs westward as the industry cut its way toward the edge of the prairie. Songs imported from Ireland persisted alongside new songs that told of life in the north woods. Brian Miller explains the historical context of the north woods song tradition and delves into the fascinating lives of some of the singers from that era, illustrating the talk with songs from the archives.
Irish Musical Instruments Through the Ages from the Stone Age to the New Millennium — Niamh Ni Charra
Niamh Ni Charra will take a selection of instruments found in Irish music today and discuss their development from their origins in ancient times, their context and the musical traditions linked to them. Examples will be discussed from as early as the Stone age through the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Medieval periods up to the new Millenium.
Irish Music in America — Mick Moloney
Mick Moloney, who is well-known Irish ethnomusicologist, will discuss the hsitory of Irish traditional music in America and the role of America in the ongoing evolution of Irish music.
Irish Music in Chicago — Jimmy Keane
Jimmy Keane presents an overview of traditional Irish music in Chicago featuring some of the musicians from the past and present and their influence on him and his music.
Irish Music in Chicago and the Legacy of Francis O’Neill — Seán Gavin
You really can’t discuss the impact of Chicago on the Irish music tradition without mentioning the name of Francis O’Neill, one of the most important collectors and publishers of traditional Irish music that was commonly played in the late 1800’s and early 1900s both in Ireland and in Chicago. Seán Gavin will explore O’Neill’s contribution to the tradition through a combination of visual and audio presentations and make the connection with today’s Chicago Irish music scene.
Irish Music in London in the 1960s — Kevin Burke
The 1950’s and 60’s were decades that saw vast numbers of people leaving Ireland. Many of these emigrants came to London and brought their music with them. Kevin Burke was lucky enough to have parents who loved traditional music, particularly the music of their native Sligo, and through them he met and played with many of the big figures in Irish music – Sean McGuire, Brendan McGlinchey, Bobby Casey, Roger Sherlock, Paddy Taylor and many more. Kevin will discuss the music and musicians from those times.
Irish Music in Review – A Rich Variety — June McCormack
What is traditional Irish music and what are its many forms? If you are just beginning to play the music or an advanced player wanting to go beyond jigs and reels, this class will give you a more complete understanding of what constitutes Irish music. June McCormack demonstrates the tunes that represent well the tradition and sheds some light on their rich variety.
Irish Music in San Francisco: The Legacy of Joe Cooley — Marla Fibish
Galway accordion player Joe Cooley inspired and influenced an entire generation of musicians and music-lovers in San Francisco with his powerful, clear, passionately joyful and unique way of playing Irish accordion. In his relatively brief years in the Bay Area, from the mid sixties until his final trip home in 1973, local musicians, many of whom had never played Irish music, spent time in his company, learned his tunes and absorbed his way of playing. Cooley’s legacy, to this day, influences the San Francisco sound in subtle and not so subtle ways.
Irish Music, Politics, and Labor in Chicago — Marta Cook
September 1901: Francis O’Neill is both a collector of traditional music and the General Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Emma Goldman is an anarchist political activist and writer, arriving in Chicago to surrender herself for questioning after being accused of conspiring to assassinate President McKinley. What happened next is a fascinating story of high-stakes political maneuvering involving a colorful cast of characters, under the long shadow of the 1904 Presidential election. As events worthy of a thriller unfold, opportunities arise to explore the operations of power that affect Ireland, its culture(s,) and its diaspora(s.) By telling this story and others, this multimedia presentation will explore some of the unexpected but significant ways in which political and economic currents continually influence the course of traditional music history. The presentation will be followed by a discussion. No instruments are required. Non-musicians are welcome. This presentation is based on unpublished original research. Recording will be at the presenter’s discretion.
Irish Music Stories — Audio Excerpts and Live Musical Interludes from the new IMS Podcast — Shannon Heaton
Irish Music Stories is the Podcast about traditional music and the bigger stories behind it. With pre-recorded interview clips from the show, commentary, and lives tunes and songs, Heaton takes listeners to kitchens, pubs, and dance halls where Irish music lives. Meet a band of Boston tweens who headed to the All Ireland Fleadh… go inside some of North America’s most esteemed Irish music pubs… take a journey back to Irish dance halls in the 1950s… and enjoy rich poems and stories about what Irish music means to people in the session circle and around the globe.
Irish Mythology and Folklore and Its Relevance to Irish Music — Cathie Ryan
The bond between the myths and folklore of Ireland and the music is powerful. In this hour, Cathie will explore some of the well known mythic tales, folk stories and fairylore of Ireland and discuss how their subjects, themes, and reverence of landscape have inspired and informed Irish traditional music and song.
Irish Songs for Children — Éilís Kennedy
Apart from being a useful tool in Gaelic pronunciation and rhythm, learning and subsequently teaching children’s songs is an enriching experience. Many of these songs are related to rural and marine domestic chores and activities of latter days – spinning, weaving, milking, fishing, rowing and following the patterns of the year in nature. Some are recognizable tunes which are played commonly in the Irish instrumental tradition. Éilís’ parents and grandparents have left her with a collection of Irish language songbooks specifically aimed at children and she will share with students. They are written in old Gaelic script with notation.
Irish Traditional Music in England — Colin Farrell
This class will explore the different regions, bands and musicians that have contributed to the Irish music tradition and have been a big influence on a lot of today’s musicians playing Irish music.
Irish Traditional Music: Where Has It Been? Where Is It Going? — L.E. McCullough
This seminar presents a historical timeline of Irish traditional music and examines how a 17th-century ”folk” music not only survives into the 21st century but thrives globally — even as its original host culture undergoes massive social-economic-demographic change.
Jack Coen – The Musical Journey and Legacy of the Woodford Flute Player — Patrick Ourceau
Born in Woodford, Co. Galway, Flute player Jack Coen emigrated to the New York City in 1949, where he spent the rest of his live. Honored in 1991 with a National Heritage Award for his lifetime’s contributions to America’s cultural heritage, Jack’s musical story, his influences, style and repertoire are not well known to the greater community of Traditional Irish music. Having spent much time with Jack Coen while living in NYC, Patrick will share tunes, stories and rare recordings of the musician, from Jack’s early musical experiences in Woodford and Ballynakill to his partnership with the legendary Paddy O’Brien, Larry Redican and the New York Ceili Band, and to his many years teaching the music in the Bronx.
Johnny Doran: The Travelling Piper of Ireland — Mickey Dunne
Mickey Dunne will present stories from the life of Johnny Doran, the famous uilleann piper form the travellers of Ireland. Mickey will play excerpts from recordings of Johhny Doran’s playing.
Learning Irish Language Basics — Aoife Granville
For musicians who love Irish traditional music but are fearful of mispronouncing the Gaelic names of people and places associated with the music, this class will increase your confidence when uttering the words. Don’t expect to be speaking Irish fluently, but at least you’ll get a better understanding of the basics of Irish pronunciations and some useful phrases.
The Legacy of the Travelling Pipers — Mickey Dunne
Mickey Dunne will explore the lives and playing of the great travelling pipers of Ireland through music and video recordings. From the times of Johnny and Felix Doran to the present melodies of John Rooney, Finbar Furey and Paddy Keenan, students will see and hear some of Ireland’s most interesting caretakers of the music.
Legendary Musicians of The Irish Scroll: A Conversation About the Musicians From New York and Those Who Came to Play in New York and a Few Others — Brendan Mulvihill
In this conversation, Brendan identifies the musicians who shared tunes with him and inspired the tunes he includes in his first tunebook – The Irish Scroll. He will talk about how he met them and what he learned from them. Such musicians include Johnny Cronin, Jackie Riordan, Peggy Riordan, Larry Redican, Sean McGuire, and others.
Leo Rowsome: Ireland’s King of the Pipers — Tom Creegan
The life and contribution of one one of Ireland’s most famous and influential uilleann pipers is presented by Tom Creegan who has had the good fortune to own and play a set of Leo Rowsome’s pipes that were made in the mid-50s.
The Life and Laughter of Barney McKenna — An Irish Music Legend — Gerry O’Connor
Barney McKenna of the Dubliners was most renowned as a banjo player. In fact, according to Mick Moloney, Barney was single-handedly responsible for making the GDAE-tuned tenor banjo the standard banjo in Irish music. Barney and his band remain one of the most popular ensembles ever formed in Ireland. For five decades, the Dubliners were instrumental in popularizing Irish music not only in Ireland but in the rest of Europe and in America. Barney was an audience favorite with his heartfelt singing of ballads, his lively instrumentals on banjo, and his legendary anecdotes affectionately referred to today as “Barneyisms.” Gerry O’Connor performed with Barney in the years before his death and afterwards took his place with the Dubliners. He was privileged to experience Barney up close and personal and will share some stories, some music and some insights about this extraordinary musician.
The Life and Music of Ed Reavy — Mick Moloney
Born in Barnagrove, County Cavan, Ed Reavy emigrated to Philadelphia with his family in 1912 and eventually became one of the most prominent fiddlers and composers of his time. The phenomenon of how Ed’s compositions entered into an old music tradition where oral transmission is the norm will be explored by one of the leading scholars on the Irish music tradition Mick Moloney. The presentation will feature recordings and video of Ed and other musicians playing his music.
Lilting — It’s More than Just Didley-Eye! — Eimear Arkins
Lilting is a form of Irish mouth music, also known as diddling, mouth jigging, or “portaireacht” in the Irish language. In this session, you will learn the origins of this art form and its place in the tradition today. Eimear will discuss its use as a teaching aid and offer some tips and techniques for structuring different tune types and ways to make sense of all the “nonsensical vocables.”
Living Links – How the Sligo Fiddle Style Survives Today – The James Morrison Story — Manus McGuire
Like fiddlers Michael Coleman, Paddy Sweeney and Paddy Killoran, James Morrison was born and raised in south Sligo and immigrated to the United States. His virtuoso playing on the fiddle in the Sligo style and his prolific recording achievements greatly influenced generations of fiddlers in the US and abroad. His remarkable story will be presented by Manus McGuire who also grew up in Sligo.
Listening to Learn – Learning to Listen — Harry Bradley
In this class, Harry Bradley will explore ways for listening to old piping recordings and bringing elements of them into our own playing. Central to discovering effective modes of practice is understanding, via close listening, the ways in which these great musicians laid down a solid rhythm and melody. Harry will teach how the understanding and applying of these core principles will achieve 80-90 percent of performing a given piece well. This class will inform how we can use these practices methodically to give our playing the ‘backbone’ or basis for a solid rhythm and melody.
The London Irish Music Scene in the 70s — John Carty
John Carty will recall his early learning experiences growing up in the very rich London Irish music scene during the mid 70’s, and his subsequent discovery of the Sligo fiddle masters who emigrated to the USA in the 1920s that helped him develop his fiddling style. He will play sound recordings of a cross section of musicians that were highly influential in his development as a musician, together with demonstrations and a Q and A section.
The Long Road to Glenties — Danny Diamond
In 1964, folk singer and music collector Pete Seeger (1919-2014) travelled with his family to the remote Bluestacks mountains of Co. Donegal to spend a single day in the company of elusive folk music legend John Doherty (1900-1980). Now, 50 years on, in The Long Road to Glenties, archival film footage of the meeting is revealed in this presentation by Danny Diamond. Meeting in a caravan just outside the market town of Glenties, the Seegers spent a day filming and interviewing Doherty with the help of his friend and patron Malachy McCloskey and the English folk-music collector Peter Kennedy. This film footage is a lasting memorial to the unique bond formed between two musical figures who came from such different worlds, yet had so much in common.
Looking Outside the Tradition — Mick Broderick
With regards to the role of accompaniment, we will look at how influences from other genres such as rock, pop and african music can enhance the formal arrangement of songs and tunes within the tradition.
The Making of O’Neill’s Music of Ireland: A Great Chicago (and Irish) Story — Seán Cleland
O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, containing 1,850 pieces of music, was self-published in 1903 in the City of Chicago by Francis O’Neill, who at the time of publication was the first Irish-born chief of police of the City of Chicago. These 1,850 melodies, many of which had never been heard before, were personally collected over 19 years by Chief O’Neill and his fellow musicians in the Irish Music Club of Chicago from the playing, whistling and lilting of many Irish emigres across Chicagoland. They were then transcribed by ear by Chicago police Sergeant James O’Neill (no relation). These melodies are a fantastic doorway into the Irish music of the time, and the story of their collection, identification, verification, transcription, and publication is a great Chicago and Irish story capturing an important era in both Irish social and cultural history and the story of a great American city re-building itself at the turn of the 20th Century.
Mná an Cheoil: 100 Years of Women in Irish Music — Niamh Ní Charra
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Irish women gaining the right to vote, and as Ireland observes a year-long commemoration of that momentous event, it also shines a much needed light on the contributions of women in advancing the Irish music tradition. This talk looks back at 100 years of women in Irish music and focuses on those, both known and forgotten, who have shaped the musical tradition we celebrate today. It will also look at the circumstances and social practices that led some to be discovered while others remained known only to those lucky enough to come into contact with them.
The Modal Harmonic Context of Irish Traditional Music — Roger Landes
Irish traditional tunes inhabit four “modes” or scales, only two of which correspond to the major and minor scales of the Western European Classical tradition, and two more that are found in other traditional musics but which are exploited in ways unique to Irish music. We’ll investigate how these modes are utilized in Irish traditional music, discovering the harmonic information typically embedded within Irish melodies, explore different approaches for harmonizing them and then look at possibilities for these harmonic ideas on our instruments Most importantly this workshop will provide a set of tools for understanding the modal nature of Irish traditional music and some handy shortcuts for analyzing and harmonizing melodies. While this topic is probably mostly of interest to players of chordal instruments it also provides information that is really useful for melody players.
Modal Harmony, Parts 1 & 2 — Roger Landes
This class taught by master accompanist Roger Landes will be conducted in two one-hour sessions and will give some insight into the underlying musical foundation of most Irish music. The four primary modes of Irish music will be covered: major, dorian, mixolydian, and minor. If you are interested in the makeup of tunes or how to accompany them creatively, this class should not be missed. Some understanding of music theory is advisable and players of all instruments and abilities are welcomed. Each class will focus on different material.
The Musical Athlete Versus Muscle Pain — David Doocey
A general discussion about muscle strains and aches that are common amongst musicians. This will include tips and exercises that are used to help and prevent said issues from developing.
Musicality for Dancers — Siobhan Butler
Sean-Nós Dancing has long been described as a “musical” dance form. It’s improvised nature allows dancers to arrange their dancing to accompany the tunes found within Irish music, but first dancers must have a strong understanding of Irish music and how dance can be use to compliment it. This class will discuss tune structure, variations, and music accompaniment, giving the dancers tools they can use to approach their dancing as both a dancer and a musician.
The Music and Influence of Donegal Fiddler James Byrne — Rick Cunningham
The life and musical legacy of the late James Byrne will be discussed, particularly his influence on younger generations of players with his ties to the old style of Donegal fiddling from his native Meenacross near Glencolmcille. Audio and visual examples of James’ playing will be presented, as well as those of his tunes that have become famous and mainstream session fare from recordings such as the early Altan albums.
Music in the Mountains: The Irish Catskills and Traditional Music — Brendan Dolan
The tiny upstate New York hamlets of Leeds, South Cairo and East Durham form the spine of the “Irish Catskills”, the choice vacation destination of New York’s Irish and Irish-Americans for generations in the Twentieth Century. Today East Durham is home to the Irish Arts Week which attracts top performers and students each summer to this struggling area for a week of workshops and sessions. This presentation will examine the development of this area as a distinctively Irish destination, and some of the factors that have led to its relative decline. In addition, it will examine the role of traditional music in the region as a reflection of the tastes of the Irish and Irish-Americans who created the phenomenon of the Irish Catskills. Musical examples will be included to illustrate the changing tastes of the Irish at leisure, and the talk will be accompanied by a large array of photos and memorabilia that will trace the changing face of the Irish Catskills.
The Music of East Clare — Martin Hayes
Martin will discuss and demonstrate the tunes and variations that make the music of East Clare a distinct style.
The Music of Mayo — Jerry O’Sullivan
This class will explore the contribution to the music of County Mayo by fiddler Johnny Henry (1922-1996) and box players Alan Morrisroe and Paddy Joe Tighe.
The Night Visit – Songs of Nocturnal Courtship — Eamon O’Leary
These songs range from the comical to the supernatural. Learn about, listen to (and sing?) examples from this unique repertoire of Irish song.
O’Carolan Tunes Played Slowly — Sue Richards
For those who love the music of Turlough O’Carolan, harpist of the mid-1600s and one of the most recognized composers of Irish music, this is a class just for you. Sue Richards will choose a number of O’Carolan compositions and lead them in a slow pace to permit players to learn them by ear or just enjoy them for the exceptional pieces of music they are.
The Otherworld in Irish Tradition — Dáithí Sproule
The Otherworld has been a living presence in Irish tradition from the great texts of the Old Irish period right up to the stories of the Doherty family of fiddlers in Donegal who learnt tunes from the fairies. The stories themselves have charm and sometimes horror, but behind them Dáithí sees a coherent meaning and interpretation of the world which still has a truth to communicate to us and a common ground with other serious mystical traditions.
Paddy Canny – A Man of Tradition, A Musician of Influence — Kieran Hanrahan
Kieran explores the life of renowned East Clare fiddler Paddy Canny who passed in 2008. Like many other Irish musicians from near and far, Kieran sought Paddy out to learn what he could from this master musician seeking insight into his musical style. They became friends and Kieran had the good fortune to record his music and conduct several interviews with Paddy who long shunned such attention. Come listen and learn the nuances of Paddy’s playing as presented by one of Ireland’s most notable caretakers of the tradition.
Perceptions of Authenticity and Quality in Irish Music — Isaac Alderson
As an American-born musician with no genealogical connection to Ireland, Isaac will discuss his struggle at times with his cultural identity and what effect it has had on his music. Growing up, he believed he would never be as good a player as his peers in Ireland, simply because he came from a different background. In this group class, Isaac and students will examine writings and recordings of Irish traditional music as well as from other genres and disciplines to attempt to understand how best to approach the craft of Irish music as players outside of Ireland, and discuss whether quality or authenticity in this music are innately connected to the ethnic identity of Irish people in Ireland or the diaspora.
Playing Fast vs. Playing Slow (Dan Lowery)
This class will cover subjects of tempo, groove, feel, mood and taste, as well as technical and physical concerns that must be confronted when playing at various tempos on any instrument. What’s gained and what’s lost based on the speed of delivery will be discussed.
Playing for Competitions, Ceilis and Feisanna — Patty Furlong
Patty will explore what it takes to be in a band competing at the Fleadh Cheoil Nah Eireann. Discussion will include types of instruments involved, tune selection for specific age groups and criteria for judging. Then Patty will focus on playing for ceilis and what sets are danced, appropriate tunes for specific sets and how to determine when to stop for each figure. Finally, she will cover playing for a Feis and will discuss North American Feis Commission (NAFC) critieria for timing for jigs, reels, hornpipes and slip jigs. The levels of dancing (6) in grades will be reviewed as well as the criteria for preliminary and open champiosnhips and playing for figure dancing.
Playing with Ease — Enda Scahill
Playing Irish music isn’t all about learning the notes. For many, the physical ability required to play the music is often a challenge. It’s surprising the number of injuries of those who play under stress or, more often, the inability of players to ornament or play at the right tempo due to tension in their playing style. Enda explores what he has learned about “playing with ease” to lessen the pain and stress associated with performing this most bruising of music. Irish music is not for wimps, so gear up for some tips to get your playing in shape.
The Purist Stifling the True Nature of the Irish Tradition — Cormac DeBarra
From O’Carolan taking an influence from the baroque to the music, arrangements and rhythms of bands like Planxty, the Bothy Band, Deiseal and Clannad – these are all true and complete components of a vibrant and confident Irish tradition believes Cormac DeBarra. “Gaelic Ireland took its poetic influences from Greek, Latin and French – all still contained in sean-nós song – yet when it appears in our music, some people would seek to call it diluted and compromised. The exact opposite is true. If we took in polkas and mazurkas a century ago, who has the right to close the door on external influences today? It all feeds into the exciting and creative mind of the Gael.”
The P.W. Joyce Music Collections — Liam O’Connor
This presentation will provide an overview of the music collections of P.W. Joyce (1827-1914) initiated during the mid-19th century and will also highlight their availability as an online 21st century learning resource.
Regional Whistle Styles Of Ireland — Kathleen Conneely
Kathleen will explore the differences in the regional music styles of Ireland and listen to recordings of various whistle players to show examples of this.
The Richness of the Written and Played Note in the Musical Tradition of South Leitrim — Brian McNamara
Further to his presentation last year featuring the prominent role of pipers in the musical traditions of his home area of South County Leitrim, in the North West of Ireland, Brian will explore the role of written and oral music collections to the preservation and development of a distinct and rich musical style and repertoire that is associated with the region.
The Rhythms of Sliabh Luachra — Matt Cranitch
This presentation will consider the specific rhythmic characteristics associated with the playing of the different tune-types within the Sliabh Luachra tradition. Reference will be made to the central role played by the bowing in creating the distinctive features of this music. These various points will be illustrated by examples from the manuscripts of Pádraig O’Keeffe, the Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master, as well as by excerpts from his music and that of a number of other Sliabh Luachra players.
Safe Trad — Helping to Prevent Performance Injuries — Liz Doherty
It can be argued that musicians have a lot in common with athletes, i.e. the physical demands of long hours of practice, a high level of technical expertise required to perform at the required level, as well as issues around performance itself. Unlike athletes, however, there is little support to manage musculoskeletal problems in musicians despite a prevalence of playing-related musculoskeletal injuries (PRMDs) of up to 87%. Liz Doherty is a fiddle player and academic who have been involved in the Safe Trad research project at Ulster University to the past 10 years. She will look at some of the findings from this research about how performance-related injuries affect traditional musicians, and offer some tips on how to develop good habits that might help prevent these injuries.
Séamus Connolly Collection: A Tribute — Séamus Connolly
The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music reflects more than 14 years of collecting and organizing by master fiddle player Séamus Connolly, who began his tenure at Boston College in 1990 and was Sullivan Artist in Residence in Irish Music from 2004 to 2015. The collection links three generations of musicians and pays tribute to those in previous generations who kept the tradition alive. More than 130 contemporary musicians participated in this project by recording tracks. Originally conceived as a set of ten CDs and accompanying book, a collaboration with the Boston College Libraries led to the creation of a digital collection allowing for wider outreach, enhanced user engagement, and greater preservation opportunities, while the option of accessing the musical content in ten playlists respects the early organization. The collection consists of over 330 traditional tunes and songs, including both old recordings and contemporary performances, rare tunes and new compositions. Séamus will discuss his work on this important project and share some of the music and people it honors.
Session Etiquette — Josh Dukes
If you are considering starting a session or your sessions are driving players away instead of attracting them, come join Josh for a look at some common-sense approaches to organizing sessions. No one likes to set rules when it comes to informally sharing tunes, but not surprisingly, successful sessions depend on them. Believe it or not, there is a lot of agreement as to what is commonly referred to as “session etiquette.” Josh will dive into some of the more controversial topics surrounding sessions. Just don’t shoot the messenger.
The Shamrock City Project — Seamus Egan, Winnie Horan, and Eamon McElholm
In 1910, Solas band leader Seamus Egan’s great-great uncle Michael Conway left his home in Co. Mayo, Ireland and boarded a ship for America. He was headed to the copper mines and boxing rings of Butte, Montana, aka “Shamrock City” (named so for the influx of Irish immigrants). Six years later, at the age of 25 and in a cloud of mystery, Michael was dead at the hands of local police. This tragic story has served as the basis for an extraordinary, interactive multi-media, stage show and the 11th recording from Solas. Both the live show and the CD chronicles the struggles of the working class and immigrants of the past and today. The story is for those then and now that believe in a better life, and are willing to risk it all for a chance at something more. Join Seamus, Winnie and Eamon as they discuss the project and this exciting approach to combining storytelling and traditional music.
Sharing and Making Money from Your Music in the Digital Age: The Best New Tools and How to Use Them — Dan Gurney
The Internet has been thoroughly disrupting the traditional models of the music industry, including CD sales, touring, and fan engagement. Now, musicians are finding new ways to share their music and earn money. Join Dan, the CEO of leading live streaming platform Concert Window, as he gives an overview of the most effective and cutting edge tools for musicians, including Kickstarter, Patreon, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp, and talks about how to use each of them effectively. The class will include a presentation by Dan as well as demos and questions and answers throughout.
The Singing Traditions of Ireland — Brian Ó hAirt
The diversity of its singing traditions gives ample proof that Ireland is an island of song. From the florid sean-nós of the Irish speaking regions of the west to the gritty ballads of urban Dublin to the blending of Scottish and Irish traditions in northeastern Ulster–the songs of the people of Ireland capture the fullness of human experience. Songs of love and loss, emigration, daily labors, politics, locale, humorous happens, and more give us insight into the heart of the Irish and their way of living stretching back generations. Come discover its repertoire through exporting published collections while grasping the features of various styles by listening to prominent singers from regions across Ireland. Together we’ll discuss aspects of the tradition that make it difficult for non-natives to learn these songs, while also exploring the crucial task of tracin’ that uncovers the deeper meanings and fuller stories behind each song.
The Song Traditions of Dublin — Brendan Nolan
Brendan Nolan will share his knowledge about the song traditions of Dublin, including love songs like “The Spanish Lady” and “Easy and Slow,” music hall numbers like “The Charladies’ Ball,” and work songs like “The Dublin Jack of All Trades” and “Two Hundred Years of Brewing (The Guiness Song).” He will also discuss the famous Dublin rhymer, Michael Moran, also known as Zozimus, focusing on one of his many religious-themed songs, “The Finding of Moses.” Brendan will also have some fun with some of Dublin’s irreverent ballads like “The Night Before Larry Was Stretched” and “Sergeant William Bailey,” the hated British Army recruiting sergeant. He will also share many of his own compositions that relate his memories of growing up in Dublin, including the last horse and milk cart and a childhood visit to the dentist. Through both singing and storytelling, Brendan will give his enrichment class participants an appreciation of Dublin’s unique and rich cultural heritage.
Sligo’s Musical Legacy – A Product of Local and Global Identities — Oisin Mac Diarmada
Of the many senses of identity associated with the traditional music of Ireland, regional identity is one of the most frequently encountered. A strong element within the concept of regional style is the sense of specific local meaning. This participatory discussion examines what has been referred to as the ‘Sligo style’, in an attempt to analyze the continuing relevance of the local, within an increasingly globalised cultural arena.
Slow Airs: How to Interpret Airs from the Sean-nós Singing Tradition — Eileen Gannon
There are two kinds of slow airs, those that have no words or to which the words have been lost, and those that are part of the sean-nós singing tradition. We will learn the basic melody of one sean-nós air, discuss the translation and meaning of the words, and listen to a singer a recording of the air being sung. Then we will break down each
bit of the singer’s ornamentation and apply it to our instrument. Learning an air in this way will allow you to do it justice and play it much more convincingly.
Songs: Performance, Accompaniment and Composition — Robbie O’Connell
This class will examine all aspects of songs, singing and performing. We will cover traditional and contemporary songs, both accompanied and unaccompanied. How do you get the most out of a song and make it your own? The answers are surprisingly simple and we will explore them in depth. We will look at guitar accompaniment in regular and alternate tunings. We will show you how to find the best key for you and explore the various options for accompaniment. What makes one singer’s version of a song the definitive version? We will analyze the techniques that make a song great. We will see how introductions and links are put together and how they can dress up a song and give it a unique style. We will trace the evolution of a song from a book or a field recording to performance on stage. We will discuss how a spoken introduction can set up a song. Have you ever wanted to write a song but did not know where to begin? We will cover the stages of song writing from the initial idea to the finished song. We will discuss the tips and tricks for increasing your creativity and becoming a songwriter. Bring a recorder, a notebook and an instrument. If songs are your passion, this is the class for you.
The Story of the Aran Islands — Danny O’Flaherty
Danny O’Flaherty will recount the story of the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast as an example of the pivotal role of Irish music and song in the culture of rural Ireland.
Stringed Instrument Maintenance and Repair — Dave Cory
Dave has been repairing non-bowed stringed instruments for 15 years, proffesionaly for 10 years. He will cover as many topics as possible, including: basic setups, buzz/rattle diagnosis, d.i.y. “in a pinch” repairs, what to expect with involved repairs, etc. Since to one degree or anther, the instruments we use affect the nature of what we can play, and how easily, Dave will try also to address how differences in set-ups, string gauges, and instruments can suit ones musical taste and style. There will be literature and reference material, no tools, and no shop knowlege needed.
Teaching Irish Music — Randal Bays
We’re all learners and hopefully we will all at some point be teachers, passing along what we’ve been given and keeping the music alive for generations to come. But it’s far from straightforward, not just a matter of teaching a new page out of a book once a week. What does it mean to teach Irish traditional music (especially if you’re not Irish)? What makes it different from other kinds of music, and how is it the same? How can you get those sounds to come out of your instrument, the way you first heard it and were so blown away? What’s the best way to make really strong coffee when you’re on the road? Oops… different class.
Telling Stories through Ballads — John Doyle
History is often recounted in song blending wonderful melodies and thoughtful prose to tell the stories. John Doyle shares some of his favorite Irish, Scottish and English ballads and discusses what makes them so important to traditional music and why they are relevant for today.
That Pesky D — Dale Russ
A lively topic of discussion and debate is the role and nature of accompaniment in Irish music. Strong opinions often emerge. Many of these disagreements stem from the collision of classical Western theory and preferences and what we might call “Irish Music Theory.” We’ll take a look at how the Uilleann pipes have had a significant role in both the “chordal” structure and rhythmic accent of Irish music, and how their influence is responsible for many of the odd or weird sounds in Irish music that we love or despise.
The Therapeutic Use of Irish Music — Niamh Fahy
Music therapy is the clinical use of music in a therapeutic relationship designed to address a variety of needs, physical, emotional, cognitive and social, across the life-cycle. Music therapists use music, both client preferred and spontaneous improvisations, to help clients reach non-musical goals. The tonal and modal quality of Irish music has a unique therapeutic value, in particular when addressing the emotional needs of clients. In this enrichment class, Niamh will discuss and explore the various ways in which Irish music is used in music therapy sessions, using examples from various client populations.
Tips for Playing for Dancers — Patty Furlong
Many people think that the Irish tunes they hear on CDs, concerts or at sessions are probably suitable for dancing. Some tunes maybe, but many or not. Some tunes just don’t play well for dancing or would have to be played with tempos beyond the abilities of most players. Patty shares how she decides what tunes to play for dancers and why. There are differences in the tunes she would select for a feis, a ceili and a dance performance. If you want to perform tunes for dancers, this class will give you some clear directions.
The Traditional Flute Playing of Roscommon, Connaught and Beyond — John Wynne
An overview of the key players, starting with Roscommon, Connaught the rest of Ireland, and featuring some oversees players with strong Irish connections. There will be comment and opinion on regional styles, techniques, ornamentation, individual virtuosity, and repetoire on the featured players.
Traditional Irish Music in Dublin From the 1940s On — James Kelly
In this lecture, James Kelly will present a brief history of the development of traditional Irish music in Dublin from the 1940s to the present day. During this period, the Kelly family was at the center of a thriving traditional Irish music scene which saw the transition of the music from its cultural roots into the internationally recognized music genre it is today.
Tradition Versus Innovation — Devin Shepherd
Some would have you believe that there are two categories of musician performing Irish dance music today; the “innovators,” whose music is creatively infused with influences from rock, pop, hip hop, jazz, & classical elements, and the “purists,” whose music has been passed down from generation to generation, note for note, unchanged. This is not so. There was enormous creativity in the playing of Irish musicians long before the advent of rock, pop, & jazz. Irish dance music is at heart a subtle, creative, powerful, & living tradition that has developed over many centuries as a melody-focused music. In this workshop, we will discuss this hot topic, sometimes referred to as “the war in Irish music.”
Tunes: How Do We Discover, Acquire, Absorb, and Remember Them? — Myron Bretholz
Every one of us, especially outside of Ireland, came to love and play Irish music via differing and often unconventional paths. Many of us, having grown up in Irish-American households, may have been surrounded by the music from an early age. Others of us, including Myron Bretholz, come from other ethnic backgrounds, and so may not have been exposed to the music till later in life. Using anecdotes drawn from his own experience, Myron will briefly discuss his somewhat paradoxical status within the scene, as a Jewish-American with no known Irish roots, who neither plays a melody instrument nor reads music, yet has still somehow come to be relied upon as an unofficial source for tune names and histories. He will also relate how and when he first became immersed in the music, and how that early immersion gradually became a single-minded, but light-hearted, obsession for finding out the history of tunes and their nomenclatures. Far more importantly, however, he will also solicit attendees’ stories, as well as invite attendees to play or refer to tunes that they may not have names for, or else that are obscure or ambiguous enough to perhaps stump him. He will also discuss how he attempts to collect and retain tune information, and will recommend reliable online sources for researching tunes. And, last but not least: Given the apparent randomness of multiple tunes that share one name, and multiple names for the same tune, is it even important to know tune names, or does that just make for more confusion?
Uilleann Piping in America: A Short Story — Joey Abarta
Joey will be presenting an abridged history of the uilleann pipes in America. Being an Irish-American himself, he has always been interested in this niche subject and has documented and learned a great deal about it. Irish traditional music has been greatly affected by the Irish Diaspora in America: people playing, dancing, and collecting Irish music here. Some might dare to say that it had a hand in saving the music from extinction. This is especially true for the uilleann pipes especially in the playing, performing, and making of the instrument. Joey will be touching on piping social clubs, performers of note, and the evolution of the pipes.
The Unusual Repertoire of Melodeon Player Michael J. Kennedy, 1900-1978 — Grey Larsen
Grey Larsen’s first mentor in traditional Irish music was Michael J. Kennedy, a melodeon player from the Galway-Roscommon border who immigrated to the US in 1923. Grey met him when he was a teen and Michael was in his 70s. Over the next five years Michael taught Grey his repertoire, learned during his youth in which he had never traveled more than five miles from his home. Grey would like to pass along this rare, old and very local repertoire as well as tell you more about his life. Some of the tunes are “crooked” and one, an 18/8 hop jig, especially fascinates Grey.
Using Technology for Performing and Learning in a Pandemic — Caitlin Warbelow & Chris Ranney
The day after their Broadway show closed, Caitlin Warbelow and Chris Ranney launched Tune Supply in an effort to keep trad musicians working and keep the community connected and supported during the pandemic shutdowns. They expected it would be temporary, but due to the length of the pandemic, it blossomed into a multi-faceted and self-sustaining worldwide community. The basis for Tune Supply was the ability to get high-quality performance and learning opportunities online quickly which required some serious technology and expertise. Caitlin and Chris will discuss how technology has played a role both in Tune Supply and in trad music generally during the pandemic.
The Vibrant Irish Music Scene in London in the Seventies — John Whelan
John Whelan was born to Irish parents living in Dunstable, England, and learned to play Irish music with the help of such legends as Lucy Farr, Roger Sherlock, Paddy Taylor, Mick O’Connor and Brendan Mulkaire. John will share audio and video clips of the influential players in London who contributed to his extraordinary success as a seven-time All-Ireland champion button accordion player.
The Voice as an Instrument — Liz Hanley
Explore how the voice works by doing warmups targeting different parts of the body (mouth, nasal cavity, throat, chest, head) that create various tonalities, timbres, volume control and anything you could think of that an instrument can accomplish. Accessible to anyone interested in using their voice and waking up different areas that perhaps they don’t use. No previous experience as a singer or musician is required.
What Do You Hear? — Alison Perkins
In this enrichment class, attendees will listen to recordings of traditional Irish music and then engage in a group discussion about what everyone hears. Some of the topics that may be discussed include regional and personal styles, tuning, tune choice, variations, rhythm and ornamentation. Students new to traditional music will get a chance to hear some great masters they aren’t familiar with yet, and more experienced players will have an opportunity to get into the nitty gritty details of the music. This class is designed to help everyone delve a little deeper into the music than they normally do, learn from each other, and ultimately encourage active listening.
What Makes It Irish Music — Mick Moloney
Have you ever wondered how the great Irish players make the music sound so “Irish?” How do they get that lilt to their melodies, that rhythmic something that enhances jigs and reels so well? What can American players learn to help them get close to playing Irish music as traditionally played in Ireland? Mick Moloney will help you explore some answers to the questions. You may be surprised at what it takes to play this music well.
When New York Was Irish – The Irish Trad Scene in the 1970s/1980s — Rose Conway Flanagan
The folk music revival here in the U.S. in the 1970s and ‘80s brought an upturn of interest in traditional Irish music and an influx of “revivalist” players to the New York music circles. These players from that “long ago” era of Irish music have continued the tradition in various ways. Rose will take you back in time to relive her experiences from New York’s Irish music tradition and share her memories about such players—as her brother Brian, Eileen Ivers, Joanie Madden, John Nolan, Patty Furlong and many others who contributed to a music scene that is still thriving today. Rose will also discuss the various music schools, the friendly musician rivalries, the fleadhs and the sheer fun of this dynamic era.
Who Doesn’t Need More Slip Jigs? — Marla Fibish
We’ll do a slip jig swap, or if folks don’t have ones they want to share, Marla will play/demo/teach a bunch.
Working Up Songs from Scratch — Pat Egan
Have you ever wondered how great songs are formed? Producing a song from scratch is more than just learning its words and melody — there is a process. Pat offers some ideas on how to approach a song, e.g., finding new ways to sing old or well-known songs; finding creative ways to accompany songs through chording or perhaps picking out the melodies; working with chord voicings that enhance the feeling or the story narrative; and looking at poems and the possibility of turning them into songs.
Writing Songs in the Tradition — Ashley Davis
One of the aspects of traditional Irish music that makes it so special is its acceptance of, if not encouragement for, composing new melodies and songs. Singer and song writer Ashley Davis is a prolific composer of songs that have been added to the tradition, and she will present her thoughts on how to approach writing the verses and creating their melodies, where she goes for resources and ideas for songs, what process she follows to craft her songs. She will perform examples accompanied by her guitar.
Writing Songs that Tell the Stories — John Doyle
John Doyle’s songs demonstrate a mastery of storytelling, whether he’s singing about his great grandfather surviving the torpedoing of the S.S. Arabic in 1915, the famine victims abroad, the coffin ships sailing to Quebec, or the tragedy of Irish immigrants on opposing sides killing each other in the Battle of Fredericksburg during the American Civil War. John’s class will give insights into finding inspiration for songwriting, choosing the right lyrics, and the role of rhythm and melody in telling a story and conveying the emotions you want your listeners to experience.