Aims and Objectives
The aim of the research programme is to apply technology and a specialist music knowledge to an existing archive of music in order to render it accessible to musicians and academics.
The objective of the research is to make the music available to modern-day performers and music historians and enthusiasts by publishing the 106 pieces of music (1) in digitized Sibelius notation, and (2) as performed pieces on CD format, done by local musicians from the region in counties Louth and Armagh in which the music originally evolved.
(a) Ethnomusicological reading programme relevant to the areas of local music and identity, and field collection as a component of a sense of ‘national’ culture.
(b) Library and archive searching to assemble and collate all extant data on Luke Donnellan and his work.
(c) Collation and computer transcription of the dance music.
(d) Assessment and documentation of Donnellan’s Classical music associations.
(e) Comparison of Donnellan collection with period collections
(f) Comparative analysis and interpretation of Donnellan’s collection.
(g) Selection and coaching of artistes in the performance, arrangement and recording of the repertoire
(h) Production of CD of music, and an indexed CD ROM and text forms of the same material
(i) Public performance of the collected works.
The South Ulster area has a significant local repertoire of instrumental music and song. Some of this has filtered out into the mainstream of Irish music (such as the song Dúlamán popularised by the group Clannad). Much of it however remained local and has gone into decline. Song is significant in the area – such as that which forms the basis of singer Padraigín Ní Uallacháin’s 2004 major research work A Hidden Ulster (ix 02 : Four Courts Press, 2002).
The area’s dance music has not been highlighted during the revival of Traditional music which has taken place since the 1950s, despite the fact that a quantity of it has been recorded on ediphone cylinder and is available for research. It is believed that the editing for performance of this material, and its translation into modern, accessible media will be of inestimable benefit to both music scholars in Ireland and its diaspora, and to performers of Irish music in the area, neighbouring regions, and within the Irish music genre as a whole.
The research project
It is intended to undertake research into, analysis of, editing of, and recorded performance of the hand-scribed collection of traditional Irish dance music known as Oriel Songs and Dances which was collected by Rev. Luke Donnellan, and published as hand transcription in the Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal ,1909.
Because this is a unique body of music which represents a repertory of music which was familiar to the population of South Ulster / North Leinster at the turn of the 20th century , it is proposed to
• Research the origins of the music
• Identify and study the backgrounds of the contributors to the collection
• Research the life and associations of Rev. Luke Donnellan and his classical musical compositions
• Cross reference the tunes and tune titles with contemporaneous collections of music
• Publish the 106 pieces of music in Sibelius notation, and as performed pieces on CD format, enlisting local musicians from the region in counties Louth and Armagh in which the music was originally evolved.
Other research in this area
Song of this area has already been researched substantially by Padraigín Ní Uallacháin in her 2003 book A Hidden Ulster. The proposed instrumental music work would greatly complement this.
The research project requires the practised ear of a highly competent musician who has a deep empathy with the music of this region, and has commitment to reintroducing its voice to the broad spectrum of Irish music. It also demands a high level of awareness of extant music talent, together with competence at organization of musicians and determining suitability of applicability. As a fiddle player and acknowledged major stylist in Irish music, Gerry O'Connor, from Dundalk, Co. Louth is uniquely suited to these roles. He has played and taught all over the world in his genre. Solo, and also with his group Lá Lugh , he has also been a major interpreter of the music of Oriel since the 1960s. His background in work-related methodology is of immense value to the organizational dimension of this project, as is his knowledge of music transcription. His recordings and group work are each intense workings of music and information-linked ethnography. His Irish music history knowledge and experience, his wide experience of the major varieties of folk music in the Western world, and his high level of achievement in a largely oral manner, come together in him as an academic and skills-base which is far in excess of undergraduate demands or standards.