Dr Siobhán Armstrong
A session with me can be all-playing, all-discussion, or anywhere in between.
We can work on technique (sort out problems; learn healthy ways to make sounds you like), musical phrasing (a particular interest of mine), methodology (how to get from A to B in reconstructing fresh music from fragmentary written sources), Though, to be fair, I generally touch on some or all of these in every session. I use the earliest available sources for the music I play and teach, most usually the manuscripts of Edward Bunting, who transcribed directly from the last harpers, but I also work with early printed sources from Ireland, England and Scotland. You can bring relevant material you want to work on or you can choose from the following areas.
Here’s what I like to coach in Irish music:
– Latin plainchant from late-medieval Irish manuscripts: reading the neumes, singing, playing
– The oldest surviving Irish song airs, elegies, tuning preludes and variation sets
– English Renaissance music by Cormac MacDermott (a royal Irish harper), Dowland, Campion etc.
– The port harp repertory in seventeenth-century Scottish lute manuscripts, inc. learning to read the tablature
– Clan marches
– The evocative song airs of the Connellon-brother harpers from Co. Sligo
– Original harp versions of the great laments: Limerick’s Lamentation, Wild Geese etc.
– ‘Figured bass’: the European way of improvising music and accompanying melodies
– Music from the Masque, the courtly English entertainment
– Popular dances and ballads from the vast English source, Playford’s Dancing Master.
Reconstructing the songs and instrumental music of the late 18th- to early 19th-century Irish harpers – primarily from the Bunting manuscripts – with a focus on particular, individual harpers:
– Turlough Carolan (inc. his lower-hand idiom)
– Cornelius Lyons
– Dennis O’Hampsey (inc. his lower-hand idiom)
– Hugh Higgins
– Arthur Ó Néill
– Echlin O’Kane and others...
– Variation sets
– Handel and Corelli as played by some Irish harpers
Any amount of musical literacy may be helpful but is not essential for all of the above areas.
If anything isn’t clear or if you have any questions, you can contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org