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Ancient Irish Songs

Penny 31 Mar 99 - 07:28 AM
Penny 31 Mar 99 - 07:29 AM
Ian 31 Mar 99 - 08:28 AM
Ian 31 Mar 99 - 08:28 AM
Lynn Koch 31 Mar 99 - 09:39 AM
Bruce O. 31 Mar 99 - 11:43 AM
Bruce O. 31 Mar 99 - 12:27 PM
Bruce O. 31 Mar 99 - 01:55 PM
Penny 31 Mar 99 - 05:05 PM
John OSh 31 Mar 99 - 05:28 PM
Penny 31 Mar 99 - 05:37 PM
Bruce O. 31 Mar 99 - 06:00 PM
Penny 31 Mar 99 - 07:57 PM
Bruce O. 31 Mar 99 - 08:07 PM
Penny 31 Mar 99 - 08:14 PM
John OSh 02 Apr 99 - 12:01 PM
Bruce O. 02 Apr 99 - 05:14 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 02 Apr 99 - 05:34 PM
Bruce O. 02 Apr 99 - 07:29 PM
dulcimer 03 Apr 99 - 09:29 AM
Bruce O. 03 Apr 99 - 10:06 AM
Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON 03 Apr 99 - 04:40 PM
Bruce O. 03 Apr 99 - 05:01 PM
Bruce O. 03 Apr 99 - 05:32 PM
dulcimer 03 Apr 99 - 07:23 PM
Bruce O. 03 Apr 99 - 10:13 PM
Bruce O. 04 Apr 99 - 01:35 PM
Bruce O. 05 Apr 99 - 12:50 AM
johnm (inactive) 05 Apr 99 - 10:05 AM
Penny 10 Apr 99 - 07:59 AM
Penny 08 May 99 - 07:44 PM
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Subject: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 07:28 AM

Does anyone have any information about the sort of music the Irish were singing during (about) the eleventh century (or earlier)? Are there any existing lyrics? What do they suggest about the melodic structure of songs? Is there any trace of melodies recorded anywhere? Or, indeed, English songs from the early medieval period. There is a tale about St. Aldhelm at Malmesbury (an Irish foundation) singing for the local populace so wonderfully that they followed him into the church. It must have been worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 07:29 AM

Don't know when I'll be able to pick up any answers. I have to share this computer.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Ian
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 08:28 AM

The earliest song with music notation in Europe is "Lhude Sing Cuccu" written on the walls of Reading Abbey. Most of the early poetry (certainly anglo-saxon) was originally songs, albeit major ballads. I don't know any Irish ones, but in England, "Beowulf" and "The Dream of The Rood" are worth a look. There's also a good one called "The Battle of Maldon"


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Ian
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 08:28 AM

Sorry!

Lhude Sing Cuccu - about 12 something.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Lynn Koch
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 09:39 AM

Check out a book called "How the Irish Saved Civilization" (a truly credible argument offered there!!!)...sorry, I don't know the author off the top of my head, but as I recall there were bits of Irish ballads in there dating from the middle of the first millenium. I'll try to remember to get more bibliographic info for you.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 11:43 AM

"Lhude sing cuccu", better known as "Sumer is icummen in", was written at Reading Abbey, probably at the end of the 13th century, but is in a manuscript in the British Library, MS Harley 978, f. 11b. [The Britsh Library used to have, and may still, a reduced facsimile of the song as a postcard that they sold. I've got one I got there in 1972.]


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 12:27 PM

The flip answer would be to say there aren't any.

That kind of thing is hard to figure out. How do you tell a poem from a song? Even in late 16th century England many pieces called ballads were actually poems. There's a Penguin paperback book entitled 'A Celtic Miscellany' (all in, or translated into English) with many old poetical pieces, but which might be songs?

This is really a subject best researched in journals devoted to early Irish literature, like Eigse.

There are verses for some tunes composed by O'Carolan in the late 17th century. The earliest song published in Gaelic is one sung by John Abell in 1716, and published, with the tune, the same year in 'The Merry Musician' [Several recent works say it's in a book by Abell of 1701, but that's wrong. There are no Irish songs in the book in either English or Gaelic. Someone made an error, and others have just copied it without checking.]

"Dierdre's Lamentation" is said to be of the 15th century. However, I've only seen note of English language versions. The tune was published by O'Farrell in 1810, followed by Bunting in 1840.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 01:55 PM

I forgot to add; Abell's song was "Shein Sheis Shuus Lum" (Si/n si/os agus suas liom /Stretch down and lie close to me).

Another Irish journal to look at for old songs and music would be CEOL (Music),


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 05:05 PM

Thanks for the suggestions - can you imagine tunes which go with Beowulf etc? Surely they are declaimed rather than sung? I've actually got "How the Irish... etc" and just hadn't spotted the verse. Didn't have my song hat on....


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: John OSh
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 05:28 PM

Many Gaelic poems/songs were translated by a man who I beleived is names John Clanence Mangum (sic?) including "Dark Rosaleen" purportedly by the cheiften Hugh O'Donnell in the late 15th or early 16th centry. I heard it put to music by Tommy Makem in a concert he did, do I am not positive about the dates, name spelling. Remember, the bardic tradition was very large in Ireland through the middle ages and beyond, so often many songs, tunes which were traditionally sung in gaelic were converted to english and modified through the years. Unfortunately, much was lost in the oral tradition through the cruel anti-Irish legislation from Cromwell on down (as they were for long time forbidden to speak their language on pain of imprisonment or death, much had to be taught by hedge priests and the older generation in hiding).


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 05:37 PM

I've got those Irish books on my list, with the Druidic records Patrick destroyed and the entire contents of the library of Alexandria for when I've got my time machine. Oh, and the library of Malmesbury Abbey, which went for beer barrel bungs and window stopping. And I suppose all the Old English books which were dumped when the Tudors closed the monasteries.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 06:00 PM

That's James Clarence Mangan. There're four pieces by him in Duffy's 'Ballad Poetry of Ireland'.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 07:57 PM

The trouble with translations is that it is not always possible to be certain that the verse form of the translation is the same as the original.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 08:07 PM

In general, literal translations don't have rhyme and correct meter, and those that do are usually poor translations. Look at Donal O'Sullivan's 'Songs of the Irish', where Gaelic original, English literal, and English verse translations are given.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 31 Mar 99 - 08:14 PM

Thanks, I'll try to get that. I am only too aware, when I dabble in these waters, that English, though it does have a vast fund of rhyming words, and can be used with tremendous effectiveness by some writers, is not good at reproducing the subtleties of languages like the Celtic tongues, or French, and the verse forms used by their native speakers.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: John OSh
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 12:01 PM

Thanks for the save on the name Bruce. I guess I was thinking of John Mangum, former strong safety for the Chicago Bears! :)

OSh


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 05:14 PM

I know a different Mangum, and I'd have gotten Mangan wrong if I hadn't check it.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 05:34 PM

Deirdre's Lament? Hmmm. I have a page with Scottish Gaelic words to that. I think Rosemary McCormack of B&R Heritage Enterprises. They have a web-site at http://www.morandan.com/Music/BRHeritage

I'd type it up, but I don't know where I have it. She gave me some words a couple of years ago.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 02 Apr 99 - 07:29 PM

From P. O'Farrell's 'Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes.'

X:1
T:Deirdre's Lamentation for the sons of Usnoth
S:O'Farrell's 'Pocket Companion for the Irish.., II, (1810)
Q:120
L:1/4
M:3/4
K:G
G/A/|B3/2A/ G/E/|D3/4E/4GG/A/4B/4|c3/2 c/ B/G/|\
A/G/ E/D/E/G/|A2::B/c/|d3/4e/4 g/e/ d/B/|\
A/G/4E/4 {E/}DD/E/|G3/4A/4 G/E/D/E/|\
G3/4A/4 B/G/~A|G2:|]


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: dulcimer
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 09:29 AM

reference 3/31 by Bruce O. Is Deirdre's Lamentation then older than Callino, which was reported as the oldest known Irish tune?


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 10:06 AM

1810 is not older than c 1580.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 04:40 PM

Greetings, All

I've just finished reading a neat little book entitled "A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music" by Gearoid O'Hallmhurainpublished by the O'Brien Press, Dublin, ISBN O-86278-555-3. In it he traces Irish music as far back as Early and Mediaeval Ireland. I can't recall if he specifically dealt with songs or ballads, but if you can get a hold of this book, it might answer your questions. Even if it doesn't, it's an easy and interesting read for anyone with an interest in Irish music.

Keep the Faith.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 05:01 PM

Tracking down old references to singing and playing of instruments is one thing. Finding a song or tune that we know, and being unequivocally certain that it's the same one known in earlier times is much much more difficult. Does anyone have an Irish song known to be of the 16th or 17th century, in either Gaelic or English?

I've turned up a rather dull one (in English) in an English MS of c 1630-70, that was said there to be an Irish song, and found MS evidence of 1688 that "Lilliburlero" was an Irish song (as some early printed copies state), but that's all I know of Irish songs prior to 1700, except for some verses to some O'Carolan tunes of c 1690-1700.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Deirdre's Farewell^^ & ...Lamentation^^
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 05:32 PM

Deirdre's Farewell to Alba.

"Farewell to fair Alba, high home of the sun;
Farewell to the mountain, the cliff, and the dun;
Dun Sweeny, adieu! for my love cannot stay,
And tarry I must not, when love cries away.

Glen Vashan! Glen Vashan! where roebucks run free,
Wherre my love used to feast on the red deer with me,
Where, rocked on thy waters, while stormy winds blew,
My love used to slumber; Glen Vashan, adieu!

Glendaro! Glendaro! where birchen boughs weep
Honey dew at high noon to the nightingale's sleep;
Where my love used to lead me to hear the cuckoo,
'Mong the high bushes; Glendaro, adieu!

Glenurchy! Glenurchy! where loudly and long
My love used to wake up the woods with his song,
While the son of the rock, from the depths of the dell,
Laughed sweetly in answer; Glenurchy, farewell!

Glen Etive! Glen Etive! where dappled does roam,
Where I leave the green sheeling, I first call'd a home,
Where with me my true love delighted to dwell,
The sun made his mansion; Glen Etive, farewell!

Farewel to Inch Draynagh; adieu to the roar
Of blue billows bursting in light on the shore;
Dun Figh, farewell! for my love cannot stay,
And tarry I must not when love cries 'away.'"

Deirdrie's Lamentation after the sons of Usnoth/ Usnach are killed.

"The lions of the hills are gone,
And I am left alone--alone;
Dig the grave both wide and deep,
For I am sick, and fain would sleep.

The falcons of the wood are flown,
And I am left alone--alone;
Dig the grave both deep and wide,
And let us slumber side by side.

The dragons of the rock are sleeping,
Sleep that wakes not for our weeping;
Dig the grave, and make it ready,
Lay me on my true love's body.

Lay their spears and bucklers bright
By the warriors' sides aright;
Many a day the three before me
On their linked bucklers bore me.

Lay the collars, as is meet,
Of their greyhounds at their feet;
Many a time for me have they
Brought the tall red deer to bay.

In the falcon's jesses throw,
Hook and arrow, line and bow;
Never again by stream or plain
Shall the gentle woodsmen go.

Sweet companions, were ye ever
Harsh to me your sister, never;
Woods and wilds, an misty valleys
Werre with you as good's a palace.

Oh! to hear my true love singing,
Sweet as sounds of trumpets' ringing;
Like the sway of ocean swelling
Rolled his deep voice round our dwelling.

Oh! to hear the echoes pealing,
Round our green and fairy sheeling,
When the three with soaring chorus
Made the skylark silent o'er us!

Echo now sleep morn and even;
Lark, alone, enchant the heaven;
Ardan's lips are scant of breath,
Naisi's ongue is cold in death.

Stag, exult on glen and mountain;
Salmon, leap from loch to fountain;
Heron, in the free air warm ye,
Usnach's sons no more will harm ye.

Erin's stay, no more ye are
Rulers of the ridge of war;
Never more 'twill be your fate
To keep the beam of battle straight.

Woe im me! by fraud and wrong,
Traitors false, and tyrants strong,
Fell Clan Usnach, bought and sold
For Barach's feast and Conor's gold.

Woe to Eman, roof and wall!
Woe to Red Branch, hearth and hall!
Tenfold woe and black dishonour
To the foul and false Clan Conor.

Dig the grave both wide and deep,
Sick I am, and fain would sleep!
Dig the grave, and make it ready,
Lay me on my true love's body."


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: dulcimer
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 07:23 PM

Bruce O.--Here is what I read so far: "Dierdre's Lamentation" is said to be of the 15th century. However, I've only seen note of English language versions. The tune was published by O'Farrell in 1810, followed by Bunting in 1840.--So you ar e saying that the 15th century is not to be taken as factual; that the tune has no actual history before that time or could have been an English tune published in Ireland in 1810? --found MS evidence of 1688 that "Lilliburlero" was an Irish song (as some early printed copies state), but that's all I know of Irish songs prior to 1700.--I thought that Callino reference was 1580? Not trying to question your scholarship, just confused.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Apr 99 - 10:13 PM

This thread is on songs, and that's what I mean unless I specifically mention a title is that of a tune. "Callino" is a tune. There was apparently once a song for it of the same title, but it's now unknown. There are several 17th century Irish tunes, but I mentioned only songs. The story of Deirdre, with a poem recited by her and another 'chanted' by her is in a MS of the 15th century, given in Thomas Kinsella's 'The Tain', but I have only the English translation of this, and "Deirde's Lamentation" above doesn't look much like the literal translation. The song called above called "Deirdre's Lamentation" is probably a little older than the 1810 date of the tune of the same title, but I have it only in Bunting's 1840 collection.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 Apr 99 - 01:35 PM

In the Scarce Song 1 file on my website is my evidence that "Mongahan Fair" is a version of "Derry's Fair", sung in England c 1596-8. If my identification is correct, this may be the oldest known Irish song, (not tune, "Callino" is slightly older) although it's in English, not Gaelic.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 05 Apr 99 - 12:50 AM

Kinsella says in his notes to 'The Tain' that the tale of Deirdre and the Sons of Usneth (or two other spellings) is from the 8th or 9th century, but didn't say how old the manuscript was that he translated. Many Welsh and Irish manuscripts are to a large extent copied from older ones that have disappeared, so it's hard to know how old the basic story is, or how much it was revised in the known later manuscripts. Also one sometimes has small pieces of a tale in an old manuscript, but the only complete version in a much later one. 'The Tain' was supposed to have taken place about the time of Chirst's birth, but not every thing fits with this. Fergus is of considerable importance is the tale of Deirdre, and the real Fergus can be put at about c 560 C.E. (my rough estimate). One tale of the Mabinogion has him in King Arthur's time, which is about 50 years too early (but the Welsh tales, and King Arthur stories put several historical figures too early, e.g., Peredur of York = Percival/Parsifall, Owain son of Urien).

Actually, what is perhaps the earliest Welsh song is one by Taliesin in 'The Tale of Taliesin', which one editor puts in the 'Mabinogi' (Patrick K. Ford), and some don't (there are also poems purportedly by Taliesin there, too, but one is specifically called a song). The setting for this is in the reign of the real Maelgwyn/Maglocunus, c 520-551 C.E. (when Maelgwyn died of bubonic plague). The oldest manuscript is of the mid-16th century.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: johnm (inactive)
Date: 05 Apr 99 - 10:05 AM

Early Irish Lyrics, eight to the twelfth centure http://curia.ucc.ie

Primarily poems, some hymns, all in Irish


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 10 Apr 99 - 07:59 AM

Thanks a lot for all of these leads.

Gerald of Wales has a description of Welsh singing at his time, but no actual songs.


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Subject: RE: Ancient Irish Songs
From: Penny
Date: 08 May 99 - 07:44 PM

Refresh


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