I COMPOSED 40 traditional-type tunes this year. The year before, 2016, I composed 18.
Basically, those 58 tunes make up 1/4 of the full gamut of traditional tunes I’ve composed over the last 44 years.
What’s up with that?!
I blame Social Media.
Darn Facebook constantly alerts us to “Who’s Celebrating A Birthday Today” … but hey now — isn’t a freshly-composed, individually-tailored New Tune just the perfectly thoughtful birthday gift that keeps on giving?
Besides the birthdays and anniversaries, there are people dying, people having kids, people getting married, people getting honored. People I hold in deep gratitude (for allowing me to crash overnight on their living room floor several decades back, for making me my first wooden flute, etc.), or people who just do cool things to boost this music we love and help more people love it.
One tune got commissioned, one tune won a contest, another I did just on a dare. One was for a new relative my wife discovered she had, who also happens to be an outstanding klezmer musician. And why not take on the challenge of composing a lively Hiberno-Klezmer Fusion tune?
And some Current Events. Writing those are about as much of a bummer as the funeral ones, unfortunately. But, like the funeral tunes, they have to be done. By somebody, sometime. Cause that’s what Art is, ultimately — a record of who we are, and wanted to be,
The long year’s tally: 13 double jigs, 9 reels, 5 hornpipes and 11 others representing a mélange of genres: planxty, polka, waltz, slide, march, klezmer freylekh, Spanish jota, oldtimey American breakdown.
AND, there’s still 3 days left in this current annum. Who knows what melody might yet break loose from the moorings?
Copeland’s Wooden Wonder
Dr. Frank Claudy’s Reel
Her Name Was Heather Heyer
Kathleen Biggins’ Thousand Welcomes to New Jersey
Kieran O’Hare’s Fancy
Robyn Ní Conney’s Reel
The Cannadys of Chicago
The Pride of Derradda (Frank Curran’s Reel)
The Rambles of Rimbaud (Angel in a Barber Chair)
Farewell to Fred Abbate
Hollis Payer’s Birthday Jig
Jane Kelton’s Birthday
Jim Brown’s Birthday
Les Deux Jumeaux (The Two Twins)
Leslie Clark’s Lively Jig
Na Trí Péarlaí (The Three Pearls)
Paddy’s Prize Pupil (Tony DeMarco’s Jig)
Paul and Charlene’s Crystal Anniversary
Paul Keating’s Birthday Pete and Kelly’s Firstborn
The Painted Banjo (Sebastian McLaughlin’s Jig)
The O’Donnells of Emerson
Doug Barr’s Birthday
Kevin Donnelly’s Master Hornpipe
Peter Kwangjun Suk’s Birthday Hornpipe
Tex Sweeney’s Finger-Flyin’ Hornpipe
Tim Britton’s Birthday
Planxty Buster Hawkins
The Man from Geashill (Planxty Noel Rice)
Dr. Matt Cranitch’s Polka
Ms. Marta’s Birthday Polka
An Máirseáil Úll Mór
The Grand Marshal (Craig Coughlin’s March)
Burr & Julie’s Wedding
Rónán Oisín Finnegan’s Welcome to Terra
The Mighty Hammers of Bill
La Guitarra Cantante de Pipo Hernandez
The Levitt Legacy
Some of them are below … Click Here for all of 2017’s New Tunes in notation.
Most of them are recorded here on youtube.
HAMMERED DULCIMERIST Bill Spence of Voorheesville, New York, has been performing and promoting traditional music for decades … he just had a birthday, so he’s in line for a birthday tune
“THE MIGHTY HAMMERS OF BILL” fits the breakdown genre and surely works as a contradance tune. Give it a try and surprise Bill when you meet at next year’s Old Songs Folk Festival he and his wife, Andy, co-founded Back in the Day.
I HAVE HAD THE great good fortune to meet and perform with many exceptional musicians over the years; one of the finest is Pipo Hernandez, a native of the Canary Islands who’s been making music in Austin, Texas, for a long time on guitar, charango and other indigenous strings with groups like Toqui Amaru, Panama Hats, Ed Miller and more.
“LA GUITARRA CANTANTE DE PIPO HERNANDEZ” (“The Singing Guitar of Pipo Hernandez”) starts out in a jota form (a dance idiom popular in Spain and the Canary Islands), then moves into something else altogether. ¡Feliz cumpleaños, señor!
FOR WELL OVER a century one of the strongest repositories of Irish Traditional Music in America has been the music club, from the Irish Music Club of Chicago and Irish Pipers’ Club of San Francisco of the early 1900s to the numerous CCE-affiliated branches flourishing today across the U.S.
Here’s AN MÁIRSEÁIL Úll MÓR, a musical tribute to Craobh Úll Mór (Big Apple Branch) of New York City, where you’ll find copious amounts of Irish traditional music, dance, song, language and stories, along with the people who perform, teach and enjoy them.
Why don’t you play along!
Here’s a sad yet noble tune: The Piper Bill Ochs, composed late in 2016 in tribute to an excellent New York musician recently passed.
And here’s a recording of it:
BRUCE & MARY’S WEDDING – composed Sept. 28, 2016 for Bruce Foley and Mary Coogan, 2 outstanding musicians and human beings. Video clip here.
DON MEADE’S JIG – composed Sept. 18, 2016 on the occasion of Don receiving a well-deserved award from Craobh Úll Mór. Video clip here.
THE BASSMEISTER’S CHOICE (Hugh Sparks’ Hornpipe) – composed Sept. 3, 2016, for a legendary musician enjoying an epic 70th birthday.
GENEVIEVE & MICHAEL’S WEDDING – a planxty composed Aug. 24, 2016 in honor of 2 remarkable young people … and the wedding took place at Lyndhurst Mansion Castle (where the original Dark Shadows TV series was filmed).
BILL HARKER’S BLUE SUEDE FIDDLE – a birthday tune composed July 28, 2016 in honor of a fine New Jersey fiddler.
BOW TO THE BREEZE – composed July 24, 2016 in honor of master fiddler Seamus Connolly … I first heard Seamus play live in 1974 … have no earthly idea why it’s taken so long to compose a tribute tune for him, but better late than never.
PINE STREET PROMENADE – composed July 7, 2016 in honor of 2 great New Jersey musicians – fiddler Amy Beshara and multi-instrumentalist Max Carmichael. They play all over the Garden State … do yourself an immense favor and hear them.
* The Piper Pat Sky
* Larry Edelman’s Birthday Polka
* Knocking a Squeeze Out of It (Pete Farley’s March)
* Jane Kelton’s Birthday
* The Pride of Derradda (Frank Curran’s Reel)
* The Marbling Harp of Iris
* Doug Barr’s Birthday
* Paul Keating’s Birthday
* Jim Brown’s Birthday
are on this adjoining site page.