This week we consolidated Campbell’s Farewell to Redcastle and began looking at a new tune, the Gaelic lullaby Tha Mi Sgith (I am tired). The lyrics tell of a mother cutting bracken or ferns, which was ofte used to provide mattress material for a bed box.
The tune here is in E Dorian (similar to E minor) and is often played in A Dorian (similar to A minor) as a strathspey. Transposed to this key it takes on a hint of melancholy and sits nicely on whistles and flutes.
For more information on modes, there’s a useful introduction here, and more in depth information here, but it isn’t important from a whistle perspective, more from the point of view of accompanists or to explain some of the “feel” of the music.
The resources for this tune are all up at The Flow. Look out too for other resources related to this tune at the Fun Flute page, as they also covered this tune earlier in the year.
Fun Flute: Improvers
Our new tune this week was Rolling in the Ryegrass, also commonly known as The Shannon Breeze. An Irish reel, the plan is to hook this up with The Glentown Reel and The Boyne Hunt to make a set. Along the way we included some taps and cuts in the tune.
We also spent some time consolidating The Boyne Hunt and looking at how we might make variations in traditional music and choose to play them. The similarities between the use of variations and improvisations in Irish and Scottish traditional music and that of Indian classical music (both cyclical) were noted, along with how it differs from that of more familiar rock, jazz and blues idioms (linear).
Resources are again on the Fun Flute page on The Flow.
At the end we also looked at some music books that were useful. Nigel Gatherer’s books have helped to create a useful session repertoire in Edinburgh and are recommended. Additionally, the collections of Session and Highland fiddle tunes from Skye publishers Taigh na Teud (Harpstrung House) make a good basis for Scottish session material.
We also looked at a couple of books on the Irish or wooden simple system flute. Hammy Hamilton’s seminal The Irish Flute Player’s Handbook was originally published in 1990 and has recently been updated. American flute player Grey Larson published The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, a comprehensive analysis of the instrument in 2003. Both books are highly recommended and you can buy direct from the authors and support their work (see links) or Grey Larson’s from Amazon via The Flow, which helps support that project as well.