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This article was written by Pat Higgins in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Pat Higgins.

Pat Higgins playing a nineteenth century Rudall & Carte fluteThe simple-system wooden flute has been relatively rare in New Zealand; and in comparison to the Boehm instrument, it still is unusual. However, in recent years we have seen a steady growth in interest in this instrument. It used to be that people would say, “but that’s not a flute… ” on seeing a wooden instrument, obviously expecting the Boehm instrument familiar to thousands from school music classes. The increase in numbers of people becoming interested in and playing this instrument has come about as people became exposed to the sound of the wooden flute as part of the enormous world-wide surge in interest in Irish culture over the last ten years or so. (Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Guinness Tours of New Zealand, etc…)

The wooden simple system flute [also known as Irish flutes] is used almost exclusively for Irish traditional music, (though there may be professional musicians using it for classical performance, as is the case overseas). The author is aware of one musician in Wellington, Barnard Wells, who uses the simple system flute for playing Cuban and Latin music in a band situation. In nineteenth century Ireland, traditional music survived amongst the poor and impoverished; the classical music of the drawing room being the preserve of the rich. In 1831 Theobald Boehm invented his metal flute and sometime after, the wooden instruments it replaced gradually became un-fashionable; thus becoming affordable or at least more available to ‘folk-musicians’. It is not known (at least to the author) when exactly this occurred, but the transition must have been slow as classical musicians would have had to re-learn a whole new fingering system. In any case Irish traditional music formally played on pipes, fiddle and whistle could now also be played on the simple system eight-key wooden flute.

The first examples were small holed eight-key German instruments, and gradually large-holed English flutes (Charles Nicholson flutes etc.) became available. These became highly sought after in the 1970s as their big sound was able to produce a better tone for the noisy environment they are played in. The instrument is played like a tin whistle; the keys (if any) are ignored, as most of the Irish repertoire is in D, G, A minor, E minor and A major. The melodies tend to lie inside the two octaves above middle C. The ornamentation (rolls etc.) that so characterise Irish traditional music depend upon the fingers having contact with the holes; which allows the player to slide from notes and to articulate the grace notes. This makes the Boehm instrument unsuited to traditional Irish music. One exceptional player who does play Irish music successfully on a Boehm instrument, is the US based musician Joanie Madden.

Irish players learn by ear, staff notation is considered an impediment to the feel of the music. Notes slur over bar-lines and a legato style is preferred, although there is a more staccato Northern playing style in the North of Ireland which is related to Scottish music. Performance of Irish music is always done from memory, never sight reading. Tonguing is not used, though debate rages on this topic. Articulation is achieved by use of the throat or the fingers. As the tunes are often quite fast, sight-reading does not help ‘the flow’ of the music. The ornaments are rhythmic effects, not actual melody notes. They are there to enforce the rhythm as this was originally dance music that has, in the last one hundred years or so, found a listening audience of its own.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for a classical musician attempting to play Irish music is getting the ‘feel’ of these ornaments. Also the tone prized by Irish flute players is quite different to that sought by Boehm players. The Irish session player wants the flute to have a searing reedy tone with a solid, chunky bottom ‘D’ (the lowest note available on the instrument, assuming the C and C# keys are missing). This is often referred to as the hard D. In the author’s experience, classical flute players like a more rounded “beautiful” tone. This is because the flute is attempting to emulate the Irish Uilleann pipes.

Usually this music is played in pubs; in ‘sessions‘. A session is a group of friends (not a band) coming together to play tunes. The music is always unison playing as harmonies are not considered traditional. The melody is not improvised; rather each tune has an accepted standard version and this will be played two or three times before someone gives a signal to move to the next agreed tune. There is improvisation or ‘variations’ on phrases which are considered as a sign of good playing, i.e.: to play the melody exactly the same each time is not admired. The skill is in putting in these variations and still staying inside the frame-work of the tune. The real test of traditional Irish flute playing however is in the exposure of solo playing. It’s in a solo performance that the beauty of the melody and its ornaments is to be heard.

In New Zealand an incorporated society – The Celtic Flute School of New Zealand [now known as Ceol Aneas] – has been formed to promote this skill. In five years great progress has been made and the school has grown to attract students to its annual master-classes in Nelson from all over the world. Originally starting out as eighteen keen flute-players, the school has taught as many as 120 students in June 2004 in Nelson. They studied Irish flute, fiddle, bouzouki, Uilleann pipes and concertina. Ceol Aneas has now become an annual fixture each June, held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend holiday, in Nelson.

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For more information about Irish traditional music sessions, classes and Ceol Aneas, kindly contact Pat Higgins.

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This article was written by Brendyn Montgomery in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Brendyn Montgomery.

I sometimes wonder what led me to this place. I am an Irish flute player with a BSc in Zoology and an M.A. in traditional Irish music performance (1st class honours) and I have lived in Ireland. Yet I am a New Zealander. Brendyn MontgomeryI was born here, my parents were born here, and in fact, five generations of my relatives proceed me in this land…

My music does not come directly from my extended family as a neatly handed-down package as it so often does in Ireland. Irish has such a strong oral tradition in its homeland, where people live and breathe the music everyday. I live in a country where the society has evolved hugely from the societies that my ancestors left. The demise of the family unit and the freedom to choose your own path that has been slower to change in Ireland and Scotland, the countries of my ancestry. I am not against this change by any means; it simply means that many of the threads of the oral tradition have been broken.

Yet I am certain that the immigrants brought their music with them. My mother’s mother talks of how they played for dances from an early age, tunes that were handed down from the wider family. But that was lost as the family moved away to different parts of the country. I was bought up with both recorded and live music and was dragged to folk festivals from the age of six weeks. It is something I have grown to appreciate with time. This was not family music, but folk music of the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by technology and recordings from other parts of the world.

Before I went to Ireland I clung to that misguided belief, known in many people who have not yet travelled, that I was Irish, born in New Zealand. In Ireland I found I was definitely a New Zealander with Irish roots and the difference rocked me. When I was there I longed to come home and now that I am home, I miss Ireland. The music here changes with the land it is played in. My temperament is different to the Irish, more laid back, I drink far less alcohol. All this reflects in the music I play, and how I play it.

Playing Irish music in New Zealand is like living in a time warp, a step back into the past and an older more relaxed way of doing things. Irish music in New Zealand lacks the commercial following of modern genres, the ‘grandeur and subtly’ of classical music or the ‘coolness’ of jazz in peoples eyes. So I do it for the love of it and try to pass on the love of it to others. I impress the virtues of an oral tradition in this day of electronic convenience. I try and bring it past its colonial stigma and brand it as an acceptable and understandable part of New Zealand. Most importantly I try to share this newly found awareness and sense of place with other musicians and potential players.

While attending Kei Ko Na Ha Me te Wairua (there be the breath with the spirit) as a teacher, a hui (meeting) on Scots and Maori musical traditions, I was stuck by the opportunities for integration and understanding such a meeting generated. I was able to learn a great deal about Maori musical traditions while at the same time share mine, both equally important parts of New Zealand’s story. The presence of Dr. Alexa Still and Richard Nunns ensured the high calibre of the material being shared. I was struck by the similarities in the nature of the teaching and the strength of the oral traditionwithin Maoridom. I decided that it was possible for this means of transmission to survive in a modern era. I am happy to say that this opportunity will be repeated next year in Rotorua in late March, from the 20th until the 28th. This year will include a focus on Native American flute traditions and classical players also. I would thoroughly recommend the experience.

Currently in New Zealand, Irish traditional music is loosely associated with the ‘folk’ scene. It is however its ‘own man’, as it were, and in Ireland a very clear distinction is made between the two. It is not a quaint, older idiom that harks back to yesteryear, it has become (in Ireland anyway) a sophisticated listening music enjoyed by all sectors of the population.

So where do I fit in? Traditional Irish music has a place in New Zealand and is growing slowly. Contemporary Irish music has a proven appeal on the world stage and also in New Zealand. I once believed that uncompromising traditional music was the only way forward. I am more thoughtful these days and listen to what New Zealand has to say…

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For more information or to contact Brendyn Montgomery, kindly visit his website.

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“Music has always been healing for me, since I was little. I can really be in pain, then listen to or play music, and I feel things…ease. I feel the music play me, so that I become an instrument that it plays.”


Tori Amos performing during her Dew Drop Tour in 1996

Photo: krissikes


I recently came across this quote by Tori Amos and found myself nodding vigorously. Having been in physical pain for the past few months now, I feel better whenever I listen to music or sing. It makes me forget the pain and move on. When listing to Tori Amos, one gets transported into a strange world of soft words and harsh lyrics that cause a dissonance that is intended.


No stranger to pain, Tori Amos is an intense artist and performer whose voice, words and visuals don’t leave their audience for quite some time. Gutsy and honest, she uses her songs to say out loud to the world what she going through and what moves her: be it sexual assault, break-ups, miscarriages, marriage and motherhood – in that order. As founding member and spokeswoman for The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), she shows that activism is something we all can engage in – regardless of how busy, ashamed or famous we are.


 


Born in North Carolina in 1963 into a very religious home (her father is a Methodist pastor), Tori’s musical talent shone threw from the age of two when she started playing the piano. By age five, she was already composing instrumental pieces and won a full scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Music. After six years, the school asked her to leave, however, which Tori claims was due to her difficulty reading sheet music and her preference for rock ‘n roll.


 


This didn’t hinder Tori’s career – she won numerous singing and composing contests and starting performing in bars in clubs from the age of 13. At 21, she moved to Los Angeles to perform her music career full time. Two years later, she founded her first band – Y Kant Tori Read – and in 1988, the band’s self-titled album came out, which wasn’t a commercial success.


Tori Amos released her first album Little Earthquakes in 1992, which became her big breakthrough. The songs “Crucify” and “Silent All These Years” went on the charts, so did “God” and “Cornflake Girl” of her next album, Under the Pink (1994). Boys For Pele (1996), From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998), To Venus and Back (1999), Strange Little Girls (2001), Scarlet’s Walk (2002), The Beekeeper (2005), American Doll Posse (2007), Abnormally Attracted to Sin (2009) and Midwinter Graces (2009) bear witness to a very productive and successful musical career.



Each album was accompanied by an elaborate tour – always a treat for fans as concert pro Tori Amos is known for her spellbinding live shows. Apart from the ones mentioned earlier, her most successful songs to date are “Caught a Lite Sneeze”, “Professional Widow”, “Spark”, “1000 Oceans” and “A Sorta Fairytale”. By the end of 2005, Tori Amos had sold 12 million albums worldwide and has been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards.


With so much talent, it’s hard to pick just one song. Listening to various albums and comparing her various styles is a treat that one should indulge in once in a while.


 


Other posts you may enjoy: More on New World Music with Womad, Peter Gabriel, More on Pop Music with Annie Lennox, Sade, More on Marcome’s world , Enjoy best New Age Music, Fantastic New Age Singers.

Please Share Marcome’s Music if you like it! Thank you! ?: Thanks for your comments. Marcomé

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It’s hard to listen to any of Enya’s songs and forget about them. When “Orinoco Flow” from the album Watermark was released in 1988, it was an instant success because it was unlike anything we had ever heard. Enya’s clear and steady, yet also slightly haunting voice immediately appealed to the world and made us want more. With the song “Cursum Perficio”, Enya not only made us listen to a song completely sung in Latin, but also brave the lyrics so we could sing along.



Photo: CLF


In fact, her music and lyrics (or often lack thereof) has inspired my own music and I feel honored whenever my voice and musical style are compared to hers. Though often classified as a mix between world music and Celtic New Age, Enya refuses to accept these labels. Rather describing her style simply as “Enya”, she credits her background and upbringing in Irish, church and classical music for her unique style.


As the sixth of nine children, having four brothers and four sisters, Enya was born into a musical family in Gweedore, Ireland on 17th May 1961 (round birthday coming up soon!). Even her grandparents had played in a band that toured through Ireland; her father had played in a band before he became the owner of Leo’s Tavern, and so did her mother who also taught music. Thus, to say that music played an important role in Enya’s life would be an understatement – it rather was as important as the air she breathed.



Photo: Niall More


From singing in her mother’s church choir from an early age, it was just a small step to joining her siblings in their band Clannad in 1980 after she had just finished college, studying music and watercolor painting. Here, she met producer Nicky Ryan and his wife Roma Ryan and would in 1982 form the trio that is responsible for the brand “Enya” – Enya as vocalists and percussionist, Nicky as producer and Roma as lyricist who even invented her own language, Loxian, sung by Enya on the album Amarantine (2005).



Photo: maartinoo


Success followed with albums such as Shepherd Moons (1991), The Memory of Trees (1995), A Day Without Rain (1995), And Winter Came… (2008), featuring Enya singing in English, Latin, Irish, Welsh, Spanish, French and even J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictitious languages in “Lothlórien” (1991). No wonder that she was chosen to sing and perform the songs “Aníron” and “May It Be” for the movie Lord of the Rings, the latter of which was nominated for an Academy Award.



While marveling at every new achievement of Enya’s and the ease with which the scales new musical heights, the only complaint one could have is the time it has taken for a new album to come out. Until then, we can sail, we can sail, we can stear, we can near…


Other posts you may enjoy: More on New World Music with Womad, Peter Gabriel, More on Pop Music with Annie Lennox, Sade, More on Marcome’s world , Enjoy best New Age Music, Fantastic New Age Singers.

Please Share Marcome’s Music if you like it! Thank you! ?: Thanks for your comments. Marcomé

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If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I enjoy sharing famous sayings, particularly those that are uplifting and will make you smile.  As a musician, I also love inspirational music quotes.  Little nuggets of wisdom that perfectly capture the essence of music, and its importance in our lives.

I’ve collected some famous quotes about music.  Some you may recognize, and hopefully others will be a wonderful surprise.  Enjoy the photo gallery of musicians, too.  Can’t you just feel their energy?

If I missed your favorite inspirational music quote, please leave a comment with the saying and source.

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  ~Leopold Stokowski

Painting on Silence (image from Darin Barry on Flickr)

Painting on Silence (image from Darin Barry on Flickr)

He who sings scares away his woes.  ~Cervantes

Who can feel woeful when singing? (image from mseckington on Flickr)

Who can feel woeful when singing? (image from mseckington on Flickr)

Music is what feelings sound like.~Author Unknown

What feelings sound like (image from rockonmu on Flickr)

What feelings sound like (image from rockonmu on Flickr)

Music was my refuge.  I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.  ~Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name

Music as a refuge (image from stephenvance on Flickr)

Music as a refuge (image from stephenvance on Flickr)

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Would you take a music bath? (image from DeusXFlorida on Flickr)

Would you take a music bath? (image from DeusXFlorida on Flickr)

Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.  ~Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Admitting music to the soul (image from rolands.lakis on Flickr)

Admitting music to the soul (image from rolands.lakis on Flickr)

If I were to begin life again, I would devote it to music.  It is the only cheap and unpunished rapture upon earth.  Sydney Smith

Devote life to music (image from John-Morgan on Flickr)

Devote life to music (image from John-Morgan on Flickr)

Music is love in search of a word.  ~Sidney Lanier

"Love in search of a word" (photo from james_eminence on Flickr)

“Love in search of a word” (photo from james_eminence on Flickr)

Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.  ~Ronald Reagan

After all these inspirational music quotes, perhaps you’d now like to take a musical journey?
Other posts you might enjoy: More on New World Music with Womad, Peter Gabriel, More on Pop Music with Annie Lennox, Sade, More on Marcome’s world , Enjoy best New Age Music, Fantastic New Age Singers, Loreena McKennitt.

Please Share Marcome’s Music if you like it! Thank you! ?: Thanks for your comments. Marcomé

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As you may know, I love to collect inspirational quotes!  You’ll find them in my Twitter stream.  You’ll hear them in my songs.  You’ll even find them taped to my mirror at my home.


Much like we read to know we are not alone (C.S. Lewis), listening to music can be just the thing your soul needs.  Music can provide a connection to fond memories, and may speak to a deep part of our humanity.  No wonder so many people have made profound, uplifting quotes about music and life.


I’d love to share a few more of my favorites!


(image from prakhar on Flickr)


 Music can bring us closer to heaven on earth (image from prakhar on Flickr)



Music, the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below. – John Addison


There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.  – William P. Merrill


Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.  – Robert Fripp


After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. – Aldous Huxley


Lost souls are found in music (image from Lin Pernille Photography on Flickr)


Lost souls are found in music (image from Lin Pernille Photography on Flickr)



Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. – Confucius


Words make you think a thought,  Music makes you feel a feeling.  A song makes you feel a thought. – E.Y. Harburg


Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.  – Ludwig van Beethoven


Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.  – Paul Simon


(image from qassaam on Flickr)


What images come to mind when you listen to your favorite song? (image from qassaam on Flickr)



Music is the vernacular of the human soul. – Geoffrey Latham


Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.  ~Arnold Bennett


Music has been my playmate, my lover, and my crying towel. – Buffy Sainte-Marie


Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them! – Oliver Wendell Holmes


Travel to a peaceful place through song (image from Benjamin Rossen on Flickr)


Travel to a peaceful place through song (image from Benjamin Rossen on Flickr)



Music is the medicine of the breaking heart.  ~Leigh Hunt


Most people use music as a couch; they want to be pillowed on it, relaxed and consoled for the stress of daily living.  But serious music was never meant to be soporific.  -Aaron Copland


Music is the key to the female heart. – Johann G. Seume


Love is like a violin. The music may stop now and then, but the strings remain forever. – June Masters Bacher


Can you hear your feelings? (image from Dan Zen on Flickr)


Can you hear your feelings? (image from Dan Zen on Flickr)



Now that you’ve enjoyed some of my favorite music quotes, perhaps you’d like to listen to my favorite ambient music artists?


If you liked this post, be sure to see Inspirational Music Quotes, Improve your health with meditation, The sound of Silence, Ambient music therapy, Treat your body like a temple, Music for the Changing Seasons.

Please Share Marcome’s Music if you like it! Thank you! ?: Thanks for your comments. Marcomé

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