Monday, May 30, 2016

Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon. 

Please click the link lower right 
under "Harp Demo"to hear the song.

The melody was written by James Miller, a clerk in Edinburgh around 1783. 

One day he was challenged by a music editor named Stephen Clark to write a Scottish air by using only the black keys of the harpsichord (which is like a piano). 

Taking the challenge, James Miller, composed a melody and called it "The Caledonian Hunt's Delight."   Clarke was really pleased with the tune and he told Robert Burns about it.  

Burns then supplied some beautiful words, and the song became known as Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon .  Burns lived 37 years: 1759 - 1796. 

The "Bonnie Doon" is a river that flows from Loch Doon to the Firth of Clyde in Ayrshire, Scotland, past Burns' home town of Alloway.

Ye banks and braes o' Bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I'm sae weary, fu' o' care!

Ye'll break my heart, ye warbling birds,
That wanton through the flow'ring thorn
Ye mind me o' departed joys,
Departed, never to return.
Oft I have rov’d by bonnie doon,
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And every bird sang of its love,
And fondly sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I put a rose,
Full sweet upon the thorny tree.
But my false lover stole my rose,
And ah, he left the thorn wi' me.

bonnie: pretty
braes: hills
fu': full
hae: have
ilka: each
oft: often
sae: so
wantons: disrespectful

Monday, March 28, 2016

Searching for Lambs
This English folk song was collected by Cecil Sharp in his One Hundred English Folk Songs (1916). Though the words may vary from version to version, the theme is always the same—the shepherdess is searching for her lambs on a May 
morning and the young man is searching for her love.

Searching for Lambs / As I went out one May morning

As I went out one May morning,
One May morning betime,
I met a maid from home had strayed,
Just as the sun did shine

What makes you rise so soon, my dear,
Your journey to pursue?
Your pretty little feet they tread so sweet,
Strike off the morning dew.

I'm going to feed my Father's flock,
His young and tender lambs,
That over hills and over dales
Lie waiting for their dams.

O stay! O stay! you handsome maid,
And rest a moment here,
For there is none but you alone
That I do love so dear.

How gloriously the sun doth shine,
How pleasant is the air;
I'd rather rest on a true love's breast
Than any other where.

For I am thine and thou art rnine;
No man shall uncomfort thee.
We'll join our hands in wedded bands
And a-married we will be.
These lyrics may or may not be copyrighted!

A.L. Lloyd suggests in Folk Song in England that this tune is the kind that owes its form to the mingling of the art of the peasantry and the art of the townsfolk. 

It was a great favourite of Cecil Sharp and in Somerset he collected five versions between 1904 and 1909. He included it in a number of publications, some with piano accompaniment. As such it was one of his chosen ‘English folk songs’ which became popular as a drawing-room song: It also appears in Novello's Schools Series which was compiled by Sharp and Baring-Gould in 1906, and in fact, Bob learned it at school when he was 12 or 13 from a master who was interested in folk songs.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter will lead two very valuable workshops on March 26.  See Calendar (on right)!

Aryeh Frankfurter - Norwegian& Swedish Tunes for Celtic Harp (Intermediate/Advanced):

"Nordic music is gaining in popularity and many lovely Nordic tunes are making their way into the Irish/Celtic session and band repertoire. 

In this workshop, I encourage you to climb on the Nordic bandwagon - a wonderful refreshing and inspiring landscape of music. The music has some unusual and even exotic flavors relative to Celtic and Irish Music; yet it is close enough to be accessible to both the player and listener. 

You will learn some lovely Nordic tunes that work well on the Celtic harp - from brooding “Bridal Marches,” joyful Polskas, and driving Marches!  Nordic music is beautiful, rich and evocative. I will briefly discuss what differentiates Nordic trad tunes- harmonically and rhythmically from their Celtic cousins. I teach the tunes both by ear and use sheet music (melody only). We cover as many tunes as the class can comfortably handle in the time allotted.

Lisa Lynne – Playing by Ear and Composing:  

We will learn how you can free yourself from the written page, and understand chord progressions and keys that will always work for improvisation. 

We will learn how to read and write a simple chord chart, transpose a tune on the spot, learn a song by ear, communicate with other musicians and take a solo in any key. 

We will learn one or two of my compositions as I share how each was created.

To learn more about Aryeh and Lisa go to

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Fanny Power 
(Click on the performance - lower right under Harp Demo)

Fanny Power was likely composed before 1728 by Turlough O'Carolan in praise of the daughter and heiress of David Power, County Galway. According to Lady Morgan, Carolan called her "the Swan of the Shore," because her father's residence was situated on the edge of Lough Riadh. Frances changed her name to Mrs. Trench on March 13th, 1732, on her marriage to Richard Trench, and was the mother of Lady Clancarty, surviving to the year 1793. The melody was published in 1745 and 1779 as "Mrs. Trench."

words: W.B. Yeats

music: Turlough O'Carolan

Verse I (music part A)

When all but dreaming was Fanny Power

A light came streaming from out her bower

A heavy thought at her door delayed
A heavy hand on the latch was layed

Verse II (music part A)

Now who dare venture at this dark hour

Unbid to enter my maiden bower

"Oh, Fanny, open the door to me
And your true lover you'll surely see"

Verse III (music part B)

"My own true lover so tall and brave

He lives in next isle o'er the angry wave"

"Your true love's body lies on the pier,
"His faithful spirit is with you here."

Verse IV (music part B)

"Oh, his look was cheerful and his voice was gay,

Your face is fearful and your speech is gray

And sad and tearful your eye of blue
Ah, but Patrick, Patrick, alas tis you"

Verse V (music part A)
The dawn was breaking, she heard below
The two cocks shaking their wings to crow
"Oh, hush you! hush you! both red and gray
Or will you hurry my love away?"

Verse VI (music part B)

"Oh, hush your crowin', both gray and red

Or he will be goin' to join the dead
And cease you calling his ghost to the mold
And I'll come crowning your wings with gold"

Verse VII (music part A)

When all but dreaming was Fanny Power

A light came streaming beneath her bower
And on the morrow when they awoke
They knew that sorrow, her heart had broke.

(play music part B)

Turlough O'Carolan was born in Ireland at Newtown in the County Meath, in the year 1670.  In his twenty-second year he became blind as a result of Scarlet Fever, and having displayed much proficiency on the harp, determined to pursue the avocation of harper. Accordingly, in 1693 we find him travelling "on a good horse, with a servant, well mounted also, to carry his harp and wait on him"--all provided for him through the generosity of Madame MacDermot, of Alderford House, County Roscommon.