Feed on
Posts

Archive for the 'James McMahon Project' Category

Monz-ivory-foot.jpg

 

The current series of posts on the music of Fermanagh/Belfast fluter and composer James McMahon draws to a close with this beautiful reel. The notes on the tune in CRÉ vol. IV read:

"172. Iníon Mhic Aonghusa: Miss McGuinness (Donnelly II). From James McMahon, County Fermanagh. This is not the usual reel of the same title [for which see CRÉ I 121]."

It's been interesting and fun to consider some of the transcriptions of James' tunes over the last few weeks. His music certainly deserves attention if these transcriptions are any indication of his musicality... So, "many thanks!" and "good luck!" to James McMahon. I'm sure we'll all meet again somewhere on the meandering byways of Irish music's rattle bag of repertory.

I think It's nearly time to turn the attention back to Mr. McKenna.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

bumble-bee-on-cherry-tree.jpg

 

The translated notes from CRÉ vol. IV for this James McMahon tune read:

"58. Na Beacha sa Chrann Silíní: Bees in the Cherry Tree (Donnelly II). Single jig. This tune is from James McMahon, County Fermanagh."

...it's a nice single jig and is well suited to the flute.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

The notes on this tune in CRÉ vol. 4 are translated by Paul de Grae as:

"25. An Fhliúit Eabhair: The Ivory Flute (Donnelly II). Composed by James McMahon, County Fermanagh."

It's a pleasant jig to play on the flute.

I didn't have and ivory one to hand, so I lashed it out on a wooden E flat, just for a change.

 

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

This is the first tune from James McMahon that was collected from Liam Donnelly and appears in Breathnach/Small's 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann, volume 4'.

The notes, as kindly translated from the Gaelic by Paul De Grae, read:

James McMahon, a musician [flute] from County Fermanagh, composed this. Liam Donnelly was the scribe, a fiddler born in County Tyrone who greatly helped Breandán Breathnach in his work collecting dance music. Donnelly spent his life working in Belfast, and was living in County Antrim at the time of his death in 1992.

...it's an elegant 'notey' jig that just keeps moving.

One wonders if James actually played the low C# (not to mention the first note, the low A, which is well beyond the flute's range!) as it appears in the transcription. It would have been unusual enough for a traditional player to use the low C# key (we more often just bump up to the C# an octave up as this is much handier): The transcription may reflect the fact that the tune was collected from Donnelly, a fiddler, who would have found the low C# much more accessible.

...In the rendition below I add in a few minor variations such as cuts and the odd triplet.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Well, Irish music wouldn't be what it is if we errant practitioners were not prepared to follow the byways and grassy boreens of what its multifarious selection box puts up to us...

For that reason, and in celebration of one of our largely unsung pioneers and heroes (he composed 'The Banshee' reel, for jaysus sake!), I'll be doing a short series of posts on the tunes of Fermanagh-born, Belfast-based fluter James McMahon (1893-1977). James played music in Belfast before the era of the popular resurgence of traditional music in the city, and across Ireland.

A number of James' compositions and tune versions were collected by Brendán Breathnach and are included in Breathnach's posthumous collection 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann 4', as compiled by Jackie Small. The tunes were collected indirectly by Breathnach from fiddler Liam Donnelly. The translated notes of CRÉ IV state this of Donnelly:

Liam Donnelly was the scribe, a fiddler born in County Tyrone who greatly helped Breandán Breathnach in his work collecting dance music. Donnelly spent his life working in Belfast, and was living in County Antrim at the time of his death in 1992.

Over the next few weeks I'll record some of these collected tunes and post them up here with notes from CRÉ. There are, as of yet, no known recordings of James' flute playing; so my recordings of his tunes will just be interpretations from the Breathnach/Donnelly transcriptions.

If you have any info on James McMahon that you'd like to share you can join a Facebook group set up for this purpose:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/451200488390889/

... Here we go on another wee adventure now. ;-)

Regards,

H.

 

Read Full Post »