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A history of irish music - старонка 5


NOTES



[1] The Annals of Ulster tell us that Donnchad, Abbot of Dunshaughlin, died on a pilgrimage at Cologne in 1027, as also did Eochagan, Archdeacon of Slane, in 1042; and, similarly, Brian, King of Leinster, died there in 1052. Of course, the great musical theorist, Franco of Cologne, must have imbibed some of the Irish traditions as to discant or organum.

[2] Mabillon, Annales Benedictinorum, tom. iv., p. 297.

[3] At the Irish Literary Society, London, on January 25th, 1900, the present writer lectured on "A Hundred Years of Irish Music," when a vote of thanks was proposed by the Countess of Aberdeen, and seconded by Father Moloney, the chair being occupied by Mr. C. L. Graves, in the unavoidable absence of Professor Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.

[4] Professor Dickinson, in his monumental book, The Music of the Western Church (1902), unhesitatingly adopts the view of Gevaert, that "actual adaptations of older tunes and a spontaneous enunciating of more obvious melodic formulas"

Irish Music before the Anglo-Norman Invasion
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From A History of Irish Music by William H. Grattan Flood

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Chapter VI

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DR. LEDWICH gave it as his opinion that "the incomparable skill of the Irish harpers, as attested by Giraldus Cambrensis, could never be predicated of unlearned, extemporaneous, bardic airs, but implies a knowledge of the diagram [sic], and an exact division of the harmonic intervals." On the other hand, Brompton, in the reign of Henry II., says that "the Irish harpers taught in secret, and committed their lessons to memory."

The truth is that though the pre-Christian Irish had their ogham music-tablature, and the Irish of the seventh-eleventh century had the neumal accents, after which the Guidonian system was adopted, very little use was made of written music, inasmuch as the "divine art" was mostly taught orally, according to traditional rendering, just as the Gregorian Chant was taught on the continent. At the same time there were written copies of the musical services; and Gerbert gives a "memoria technica," from the Breviarium de Musica, a manuscript of the eleventh century, in which the neumatic names and the signs corresponding thereto are given in hexameter verses.

However, in a country so tenacious of its language, music, and customs as Ireland, it is not such a very great loss that no notated copies of our religious tunes or folk-songs exist prior to the eleventh century, as, even if such notated manuscripts survived, they would be absolutely unintelligible to latter-day musicians, and would only possess an antiquarian value. The self-same must be predicated of all written music until the year 1100. Dr. Haberl thus writes: "During the course of the twelfth century the various manuscript codices written in neums were transferred into the clearer and larger staff-notation. But, the character of these translations was very much determined by locality, as the possibility of multitudinous interpretations and renderings of the neumatic signs gave rise, in the eleventh century, to different ways of chanting one and the same text, according to the teaching which the singer received in the several cathedrals and cloisters." And, in proof of the comparatively small number of written copies, he adds: "The old teachers relied for the method of singing the neums principally on oral traditions. They committed very little to writing, and that little was by no means clear or determined."[1]

To this opinion may be added the view of the late Mr. H. B. Briggs, in his Structure of Plainsong, who says that "Plainsong is recitative," and "no notation can exactly express the rendering that will be given to it by a good singer." It is as well to state that the one-line stave, suggested by the Irish ogham scale, was drawn horizontally across the parchment over the words which demanded a musical setting, and the letter F was placed at the beginning of it, meaning an F line, that is to say, indicating the nomenclature of all the neums on the line as F, thus affording a basis for musical pitch, from which was naturally evolved the present musical staff or stave.

In the new organum of the eleventh century we find in use dissonances of the major and minor third, with the major sixth, and even the second and the seventh, as well as concords. At the close of this century and during the first half of the twelfth, many examples are preserved of hymns and songs containing "imitation" passages, which gave rise to Rondel. But, more particularly, the basis of the mensural system was laid when the Virga became the Longa, or long note, and the Punctum the Brevis, or short note.

I have mentioned above that there are old Irish airs preserved in Morris's Welsh collection, dating from the twelfth century, and which are quoted by Dr. Burney. This fact demands a brief reference to Wales, and to the debt which she owes to Ireland for her music.

In consequence of the constant intercourse between Ireland and Wales from the third to the eleventh century, Irish immigrants introduced Celtic minstrelsy, and taught the Welsh people the music of ancient Erin. This musical cult was most warmly taken up during the reign of Howell the Good (915-948). Numerous entries in the Irish Annals, from 950 to 1095, testify to the exodus of Irish harpers to Wales, culminating in the celebrated Eisteddfod of Caerwys, in 1100, which became the model on which the subsequent Welsh festivals were based.

About the year 1059, the King of North Wales was forced to seek an asylum in Ireland, and, whilst abiding with his Queen as an honoured guest in the "Sacred Isle," his son and heir, Griffith ap Conan, was born, who was carefully fostered and instructed in all the polite learning of that period. We are told that the young prince was particularly enamoured of Irish music, especially the martial tones of the bagpipe. Dermot Mac Maelnambo, King of Leinster, was at this time supreme monarch of Ireland, which position he maintained till his death, on February 6th, 1072. His rule is highly praised by Caradoc of Llancarvan (1156), who frankly asserts that "the Irish devised all the instruments, tunes, and measures in use among the Welsh."[2]

When Prince Griffith came to man's estate, he returned to Wales in order to assert his undoubted right to his father's patrimony, then in the hands of a usurper called Traherne; and the decisive battle of Carno, in 1080, eventuated in his being placed on the throne of North Wales. No sooner was he securely established as king than, between the years 1085 and 1095, he invited over some Irish bards and minstrels, so as to put the music of Wales on the same lines as the Irish musical code.

At the Eisteddfod of Caerwys in 1100, King Griffith, in order to introduce the Irish bagpipes, gave particular prominence to pipe performances, and we read in the Welsh Annals that "the prize was carried off by an Irishman, who received from the monarch a silver pipe as a reward for his skill." However, the crowning glory of this epoch-making Eisteddfod was the evening Feis, held under the presidency of the monarch himself, in which laws were enacted for the proper regulation of Welsh minstrelsy.

In order that the future Eisteddfodau should have a genuine Irish character, King Griffith sent to Murtogh O'Brien, styled by St. Anselm "Muriardach, the glorious King of Ireland," for an eminent professor of music, to confer with three Welshmen in drawing up a musical code. King Murtogh (1089-1120) selected a distinguished minstrel called by the Welsh chroniclers "Matholwch the Gwyddilian," or Malachy the Irishman, who, in conjunction with the three Welsh bards, drew up rules, according to the Irish system, for orchestration, musical theory, and metre. We read that these doctors "laid down rules for the performance on stringed instruments, the harp and the cruit; and they also drew up twenty-four musical canons, and established twenty-four metres."[3]

The Welsh annalists tell us that these enactments of the four learned bards were confirmed at a Feis held at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, by the said Murtogh O'Brien, King of Ireland, "who ratified them by his prerogative and influence, commanding all to maintain them;" and thus was settled for ever the question of Welsh minstrelsy. It is interesting to add that a daughter of our Irish monarch was married to Arnuph de Montgomery, Earl of Pembroke; and King Murtogh himself died as a monk in the famous monastery of Lismore, Co. Waterford, on the fourth of the Ides of March, 1120.

Under date of A.D. 1110, the veracious Annals of Ulster chronicle the death of Ferdomnach the Blind, Lector of Kildare, who is described as a Cruitirecta, or "Master of Harping." Some years later, namely, in 1119, there is a record of the death of Diarmuid O'Boylan, "chief Music-master in Ireland," who was killed by some ruffians in his own house, as were also his wife and his two sons, "with 35 others, his guests and retainers."

In Dowling's Annals of Ireland in connection with the year 1137, there is chronicled the demise of Griffith ap Conan, King of North Wales, "born in Ireland of an Irish mother, who had led back with him from Ireland, harps, timpans, cruits, cytharae, and harpers." The intercourse between Wales and Ireland was very frequent at this epoch, and in 1142, Dowling has the following entry:—"Cadwallader, the son of Griffith ap Conan, was forced to fly into Ireland, and brought back with him, for 2,000 marks, the son of O'Carroll, captain of 1,000 fighting men, together with spoils and booty."

The Irish character of the verses written by Prince Howell, son of Owen, King of North Wales, about the year 1165, is most remarkable. This Howell (whose mother was the daugher of an Irish chieftain) assumed the government of his petty kingdom on the death of his father, in 1169, and ruled till 1171, when he came over to Ireland to claim the property of his grandfather, in right of his mother, the heiress. It is only pertinent to add that Welsh poetry and minstrelsy flourished exceedingly from 1140 to 1240, in which latter year Llewellyn the Great died.[4] With the decline of the Irish element, and the decay of the bards towards the close of the thirteenth century, came the conquest of Wales, and its annexation to the "predominant partner," in 1283.

Scotland, even in a greater degree than Wales, owes her music to Ireland, as a result of two colonizations from Scotia Major, or ancient Erin—the first under Cairbre Riada (a quo Dal Riada) in A.D. 130, and the second under Fergus, Lome, and Angus, the sons of Erc, in A.D. 504.

Giraldus Cambrensis, in the twelfth century, writes as follows:—"Scotland and Wales, the former by reason of her derivation, the latter from intercourse and affinity, seek with emulous endeavours to imitate Ireland in music." He adds:—"The Irish use and delight in but two instruments, the harp and the viol [cruit]; the Scotch in the harp, viol, and bagpipe; the Welsh in the harp, pipes, and bagpipe. The Irish also use brass wires for their harps in preference to those of gut."[5]

O'Donovan says that "the present language of the Highlands passed from Ireland into the Highlands about A.D. 504; and a regular intercourse has ever since been kept up between both countries, the literature and music of the one having been ever since those of the other."

Ruined churches and monasteries, shrines, wells, inscribed stones, and solidly founded tradition—all point to the very close kinship between the parent Scots of Ireland and their progeny in Caledonia, Alba, or Scotia Minor. Somerled MacGillabride, Chief of Uriel (Louth, Armagh, and Monaghan), was recognised as King of Argyle, that is, Lord of the Isles, about the middle of the twelfth century. In a naval battle which took place in 1156, this same Irish king (who died in 1164) captured Iona and the rest of the Southern Hebrides from Godred, Norse King of the Isles, and he induced Flaherty O'Brolcain (Brollaghan or Bradley), Abbot-Bishop of Derry, to take over the Abbacy of Iona in commendam, who accordingly did so, and retained his Presidency of the Columban monasteries till his death in 1175.

King Somerled's sons, Reginald, Dubhgall, and Angus, and their successors, held sway over the west of Scotland till the end of the fifteenth century, namely, 1493, when the Lordship of the Isles was surrendered to the Scottish Crown. "This will account for the old bonds between Scotia Major and Scotia Minor being drawn still closer, and for the number of Irish bards—O'Dalys and others—entertained at Dunstaffnage, Inverary, and other western strongholds, during this long period, and the vitality of the old stories and poems that originated in the native country of these minstrels."[6]

END OF CHAPTER VI

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NOTES



[1] Haberl's Magister Choralis translated by the Most Rev. Dr. Donnelly, Bishop of Canea, and Dean of Dublin.

[2] Powell's History of Cambria (1584), p. 191. See also the Notes to Michael Drayton's Polyolbion by Selden.

[3] See the "Celtic Origin of the Welsh Eisteddfod" by the present writer in the New Ireland Review for March, 1898.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Top. Dist. iii. c. xi.

[6] Dublin University Magazine for January, 1864.

Irish Music before the Anglo-Norman Invasion
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From A History of Irish Music by William H. Grattan Flood

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Chapter VII

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IT would be merely slaying the slain to bring forward any of the silly arguments that formerly were availed of by Dempster and others to claim as natives of Scotland the ancient Irish Scots. It is now universally conceded that even at the close of the eleventh century the Irish were called Scots; and John Major says that "it is certain the present (fifteenth century) Scots of Caledonia owe their origin to Ireland."

Even England must acknowledge its indebtedness for music to Ireland, "the lamp of learning in the West," from the fifth to the twelfth century. It was our Irish missionaries who introduced Irish music and inaugurated plain-chant at Lindisfarne, Durham, Ripon, Lichfield, Malmesbury, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cornwall, Glastonbury, etc. St. Bede and St. Aldhelm vie with each other in their eulogies on Irish scholars.

Old neumatic notation is to be found in a copy of the Codex Amiatinus, one of the three books which Ceolfrid, Abbot of Jarrow, took with him, in the year 716, to Rome, as a present to Pope St. Gregory II. These neums, which were written about the year 704, are set for the Lamentations of Jeremias; and the saintly Abbot died on his way to the Eternal City, in 716. Ceolfrid was the tutor and predecessor of St. Bede; and, as is well known, the monks of Jarrow and Wearmouth were taught by the Irish monks of Northumbria, of which district our Irish St. Aidan was first Bishop.

The learned Alcuin studied at Clonmacnoise, in 755-760, under St. Colgu the Wise, whom he styles his "blessed Master and dear Father." In 803, as an old man, this great English scholar, when he had resigned his scholastic labours, querulously informs Charlemagne of "the daily increasing influence of the Irish at the school of the Palace."

Suidhne Mac Maelumai (O'Molloy), the thirty-fourth Abbot of Clonmacnoise, is justly styled by the old chroniclers as doctor Scotorum peritissimus, whose best known pupil was Dicuil the Geographer. In the year 890, he was one of the three Irish sages who were summoned to England by Alfred the Great, to devise a scheme of studies after the manner of the Irish Universities.

During the winter of the year 941, Muircheartach of the Leathern Cloaks (heir apparent to the throne of Tara) made a circuit of Ireland, and brought away with him the provincial princes or their sons to his palace at Royal Aileach, on the eastern shore of the Swilly, near Derry, where he detained them for five months, after which he sent them to the Ard Righ of Ireland, Donogh II. His secretary, Cormac an Eigeas, has left us an account of this circuit of Ireland, in which we read that the evenings were generally devoted to music:—

"Music we had on the plain and in our tents—
Listening to its strains we danced."

Towards the close of the eleventh century, Gilbert, Bishop of Limerick, made an effort to displace the existing Irish liturgical "uses" in favour of the Roman Rite, but was not successful. In his De Usu Ecclesiastico he tells us that there was a great diversity and variety in the Church offices in Ireland, so much so that even a learned cleric, accustomed to one particular form of liturgy, would be quite bewildered in a neighbouring diocese, where a different Use obtained. It is more than probable that the Ambrosian chant—introduced by St. Patrick—and the Irish modification of the Gregorian chant continued to be sung in most of the Irish churches till the year 1125.

St. Malachy, Legate of the Holy See, got the Roman chant adopted throughout the archdiocese of Armagh in 1148; and, a few years later, Donogh O'Carroll, Prince of Uriel, got a complete set of liturgical books—Antiphonaries as well as Missals—copied by an Irish scribe. This Donogh O'Carroll, the founder of the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, Knock, County Louth, and a munificent benefactor to Mellifont Abbey, died, according to the Annals of Ulster, on Thursday, the tenth of the moon, Kalends of January, 1170; and "he it was for whom were written the Book of Knock Abbey, and the chief office-books (books used for the singing of the Divine Office) for the ecclesiastical year, and the chief books of the Mass." [1]

John of Salisbury, about the year 1165, highly extols the music of Ireland; and his testimony is all the more valuable as he was not very favourable towards this country. He declares that in the Crusade of Godfrey of Bouillon, in 1099, there would have been no music at all had it not been for the Irish Harp, or, as Fuller says, "the consort of Christendom could have made no musick if the Irish Harp had been wanting."

The great St. Laurence O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, in 1165, dissatisfied with the Dano-Celtic system of liturgical chant in Christ Church Cathedral, introduced the Arroasian Canons of the Order of St. Victor—a reform of the Augustinians—who sang the Divine Office daily, presided over by the Archbishop himself.

Music was an especial feature in the school of the Culdees at Armagh, as has been amply demonstrated by the late Bishop Reeves. The Annals of Ulster give a lengthened obituary notice of Flann O'Gorman, "chief lector of Armagh and of all Ireland," in 1174, "on Wednesday before Easter, the 13th of the Kalends of April [March 20], in the 70th year of his age." He had been President-General of the Universities throughout Ireland, and was held in the highest esteem.[2]

Even after the formation of a Chapter in the Cathedral of Armagh, the Prior of the Culdees was invariably Precentor, or Chief Chanter, whilst the brethren of the Colidei acted as Vicars Choral.[3] These Culdees were the representatives of the old Columban order of monks; and their school at Armagh lasted from the close of the ninth century to the time of Elizabeth. The diocese of Meath is still a silent witness of the ancient Celtic monastic form of church government, and has never had a cathedral body or Chapter, nor yet a Cathedral. Under date of the year 1171 the Annals of Ulster give the following entry:—"A.D. 1171 The timpanist Ua Coinnecen, Ard-Ollamh of the North of Ireland, was killed by the Cinel-Conaill, with his wife and with his people."

Irish bishops, priests, and clerics were accustomed, in the twelfth century, to carry round with them small harps, both for the purpose of accompanying the sacred chant, as also for their own delectation. This fact is expressly stated by Archdeacon Gerald Barry, from personal observation at the close of the same century:—"Hinc accidit, ut Episcopi et Abbates, et Sancti in Hibernia viri cytharas circumferre et in eis modulando pie delectari consueverint."[4]

The neums or accents of the Irish corresponding to the Latin Acutus, Modicus, Gravis, and Circumflexus, are: Ardceol, Ceol, Basceoil, and Circeoil, indicating pitch; whilst the mediaeval Irish had their own characters to represent mensural music, corresponding to the Longa and the Brevis, that is to say, practically our modern Semibreve and Minim. Unison was called caomhluighe, or lying together; the fifth was termed Tead na feithe olach, or string of the leading sinews; the octave below was cronan, etc. In tact, each string of the harp had its own particular name; and the ancient minstrels had an infinite variety of terms for musical rhythm and expression.[5]

In regard to the old Irish form of "organising," O'Curry writes: Rind was music consisting of full harmony, while Leithrind, or half Rind, was one or other of the two corresponding parts which produced the harmonious whole; and these parts were the bass and treble notes, or the bass and treble strings—the Trom Threda, and the Goloca, or the heavy and the thin strings." Coir is another Irish term for harmony, and is mentioned in the Brehon laws.[6] From a passage in the Life of St. Brigid, by Anmchad, Bishop of Kildare, who died in the year 980, it is evident that the harp was at that period employed as a favourite accompaniment for part-singing.

The commentary on the Elegy on St. Columba, which was certainly written before the year 1100, contains musical allusions, including the ceis and the "bass chord in the harp of Crabtene." From the well-known passage of our Irish John Scotus Erigena, in his tract De Divisione Naturae, written about the year 864, it is perfectly clear that the free Organum of the Fourth, or of the Diatesseron, was well known to the Irish of the ninth century—that is to say, a hundred and fifty years before the appearance of the Scholia Enchiriadis and the Musica Enchiriadis. Professor Wooldridge, in the Oxford History of Music, says that "Erigena's description of the alternate separation and coming together of the voices quite admits of application to this method." For the benefit of the musical student, I give the Latin passage of Scotus:—

"Organicum melos ex diversis qualitatibus et quantitatibus conficitur dum viritim separatimque sentiuntur voces longe a se discrepantibus intensionis et remissionis proportionibus segregatae dum vero sibi invicem coaptantur secundum certas rationabilesque artis musicae regulas per singulos tropos naturalem quandam dulcedinem reddentibus."

From Coussemaker it appears that a monk who wrote soon after the death of Charlemagne alludes to the art of "organising," and he concludes that the practice of harmony was certainly known in the early part of the ninth century.[7]

Brompton, writing in the reign of Henry II., waxes enthusiastic over the very advanced skill of Irish musicians in the twelfth century on the cruit, timpan, and bagpipe; and he extols "the animated execution, the sweet and pleasing harmony, the quivering notes and intricate modulations of the Irish"—"crispatis modulis et intricatis notulis, efficiunt harmoniam" (Hist. Anglic. Script, p. 1075).

In justice to Tom Moore it must be acknowledged that he pointed out the ridiculous error into which Walker and Bunting had been led, quoting from Beaufort, owing to a mistranslation of Brompton. Walker makes the foregoing extract as signifying that the Irish had "two sorts of harps, the one bold and quick, the other soft and pleasing"!!!

This brings us to the epoch of the Anglo-Norman invasion; and, as contemporary evidence is always of the first importance, I cannot conclude this chapter better than by quoting the following eulogy on the Irish school of harpers from the pen of Gerald Barry, better known as Giraldus Cambrensis, Archdeacon of St. David's, who came to Ireland in 1183:—

"They are incomparably more skilful than any other nation I have ever seen. For their manner of playing on these instruments [cruits, clairseachs, and timpans], unlike that of the Britons to which I am accustomed, is not slow and harsh, but lively and rapid, while the melody is both sweet and pleasing. It is astonishing that in such a complex and rapid movement of the fingers the musical proportions [as to rhythm] can be preserved, and that throughout the difficult modulations on their various instruments the harmony, notwithstanding shakes and slurs, and variously intertwined organising, is completely observed."

The Latinity of Giraldus is not easy to give in an English dress, but he wishes to display his knowledge of musical technicalities as then in vogue. He describes "the striking together of the chords of the diatesseron [the fourth degree of the scale], and diapente [the fifth] introducing B flat, and of the "tinkling of the small strings coalescing charmingly with the deep notes of the bass"—clearly pointing to the Irish free organum of the fourth, and that of diapente, including the discord of the Imperfect Fifth interval. He concludes as follows:—"They delight with so much delicacy, and soothe so softly, that the excellence of their art seems to lie in concealing it."[8]

Not even a professed panegyrist of our twelfth-century Irish musicians could use more flattering language than the foregoing, and, therefore, such testimony from the prejudiced bishop-elect of St. David's should be highly valued. Rev. James F. Dimock, who has edited Giraldus, under the direction of the English Master of the Rolls, says:—"Giraldus had not an idea that anything he thought or said could by any chance be wrong"; and "he was replete with the exact qualities, the very reverse of what are needed to form an impartial historian," For all that, the observant Archdeacon was completely captivated by the charm of Irish music, and he has left us the above imperishable record. Well does Moore sing:—

"The stranger shall hear thy lament on his plains;
The sigh of thy harp shall be sent o'er the deep.
Till thy masters themselves, as they rivet thy chains,
Shall pause at the song of their captive, and weep."

END OF CHAPTER VII

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NOTES



[1] Annals of Ulster, vol. ii., pp. 160, 161.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Among the treasures exhibited in the Gregorian Congress, in Rome, during Easter week, 1904, was a copy of St. Gregory's Moralia, in the last page of which was inserted the hymn, "O Christi Martyr"—of the Irish St. Kilian, in musical notation of the twelfth century.

[4] Cambrensis, Topog. Hib., Dist. c. xii.

[5] The following is a brief description of the dress worn by ancient Irish harpers, as is chronicled in the "Bruidhean da Derga," one of the oldest Irish sagas now known, and contained in Leabhar na hUidhre: "I saw another row of nine harpers. Nine branching, curling heads of hair on them: nine grey winding cloaks about them: nine brooches of gold in their cloaks: nine circlets of pearls round their hands: nine rings of gold around their thumbs: nine torques of gold around their ears: nine torques of silver round their throats: nine bags with golden faces in the side-wall: nine wands of white silver in their hands." Dr. Hyde dates this saga as of the seventh century if not earlier.

[6] The seven Irish words for concerted music are:—cómseinm, cóicetul, aldbse, cepóc, claiss, clais-cetul, and foacanad. In Cormac's Glossary (p. 43) cómseinm refers to instrumental harmony, whilst cóicetul is given as "singing together"—clais-cetul signifying "choral singing."

[7] There is a manuscript translation into English of Erigena's valuable tract, made by the late William Larminie (whose death, in 1900, was a great loss to Irish studies), which is now in the National Library of Ireland, Kildare-street, Dublin. It is said to be the only English version of Erigena's work. The translation is in two quarto volumes, and was presented to the library by the author's brother.

[8] Topographia Hiber., Disp. iii., cap. xi. In the original Latin, the terms proportio, crispatos, modulos, organa, dispari paritate discordi, concordia, consona, etc., can only mean, as Renehan writes, "the rhythmical measure of time, the slur and graces, the organizing or counterpoint, the harmony of discords, and all the then latest inventions of modern music." (Renehan's History of Music, p. 163.)

Irish Music in the Middle Ages



From A History of Irish Music by William H. Grattan Flood

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Chapter VIII

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THE year 1216 is remarkable for an incident from which we get a clue to the origin of the so-called "Brian Boru's Harp." So much legend has attached to the historic instrument of that name (now housed in Trinity College, Dublin), said erroneously to have belonged to King Brian, that a sketch of the real facts will not be unwelcome to critical readers.

Muiredach O'Daly, of Lissadil, Co. Sligo, was a famous Irish minstrel at the opening of the thirteenth century. In 1216, Donal mor O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell, sent his steward (Finn O'Bradley) into Connaught, to collect tribute, who was slain, in a fit of anger, by O'Daly, for a supposed insult to the bardic profession. The bard fled to Athenry (where, for a while, he was protected by Richard de Burgo), and thence to Thomond and Dublin, pursued by O'Donnell himself, and finally escaped to Scotland, where he remained for some years [1217-1222].

Whilst in Scotland, O'Daly wrote three celebrated poems to O'Donnell, "who permitted him to return unmolested to his native country, and even restored him to his friendship." These Irish poems were fortunately preserved in Scotland, in the Dean of Lismore's Book;[1] and O'Daly was known as Albanach that is, the Scotchman, from his residence in Albania, or Alba.

Meantime, Donnchadh Cairbre O'Briain, King of Thomond, sent his own harp—"the jewel of the O'Briens"—as a pledge, to Scotland (for the ransom or return of the bard O'Daly), where it remained for over 80 years. Thus, we can accurately trace the history of a rare harp of the O'Brien sept, sent to Scotland, about the year 1221, as a forfeit, by the valiant King of Thomond, whose death took place on March 8th, 1243.

About the year 1229, Gillabride Mac Conmidhe [Mac Conmee, Mac Namee, or Conmee], a famous Ulster bard, was commissioned by King O'Brien to endeavour to ransom the much-prized harp. In response to this request Mac Conmidhe—also known by the soubriquet of Albanach on account of his many visits to Scotland—composed the well-known "Ransom song," in commemoration of his playing on its chords for the last time. At that time, the power of a bard was very great, and even a song fetched a high price; but, alas! the lovely harp of the O'Briens—the so-called harp of Brian Boru—would not be restored for "whole flocks of sheep," and so, as O'Curry considers, it remained in Scotland until Edward I. took it with him to Westminster. Finally, on July 1st, 1543, when Henry VIII. created Ulick Mac William de Burgo Earl of Clanrickarde, he presented the Earl with this Irish harp, which had belonged to Donnchadh Cairbre O'Briain.

Vallancey says that this harp, having reverted to the Earl of Thomond, was purchased by Lady Huxley, for "twenty rams and as many swine of English breed," and "bestowed by her to her son-in-law, Henry Mac Mahon, of Clenagh, County Clare,[2] who about the year 1756, bestowed it on Mat MacNamara of Limerick, Esq., Counsellor-at-Law, and some years Recorder of that city." In the year 1760, Arthur O'Neill, the great harpist, played on this venerable instrument, newly strung for the occasion, through the streets of Limerick. It was bequeathed by Mr. MacNamara in 1778 to Ralph Ouseley, Esq., of Limerick, who, in 1781, presented it to the Right Hon. Colonel Conyngham, and, at length, in 1787, Conyngham donated it to Trinity College, Dublin.[3]

The following is Petrie's description of the O'Brien harp:—

"From recent examination, it appears that this harp had but one row of strings; that these were 30 in number, not 28, as was formerly supposed, 30 being the number of brass tuning pins and of corresponding string holes. It is 32 inches high, and of exquisite workmanship; the upright pillar is of oak, and the sound board of red sallow; the extremity of the fore-arm, or harmonic curved bar, is capped in part with silver, extremely well wrought and chiselled. It also contains a large crystal set in silver, under which was another stone, now lost. The buttons or ornamental knobs at the side of the curved bar are of silver. The string holes of the sound board are neatly ornamented with escutcheons of brass carved and gilt. The four sounding holes have also had ornaments, probably of silver, as they have been the object of theft.[4] The bottom which it rests upon is a little broken and the wood very much decayed. The whole bears evidence of having been the work of a very expert artist."

There is a remarkable entry in connection with the year 1225 in the Annals of Lough Cé, amply demonstrating the progress of instrumental music at that period, especially the cultivation of the harp:—"A.D. 1225. Aedh, the son of Donlevy O'Sochlann, Vicar of Cong, a master of vocal music and harp tuning, the inventor of a new method of tuning, a proficient in all arts, poetry, engraving, and writing, and other arts, died this year."

Apropos of harp-tuning, I may here repeat what has been incidentally mentioned in Chapter II., that this was effected by means of the ceir or harp fastener. Furthermore, gler is the Irish term for tuning; and we find in the Brehon Laws an allusion to the Crann Gléra, that is, tuning-tree or key. But, as has so frequently been insisted on, the theory of music and the rules of the minstrel's art were the outcome of many years of weary study. Blessed Edmund Campion, S.J., in his Account of Ireland written in 1571, tells us that he himself had seen the Irish students "chanting out their lessons piecemeal," which they were wont to "conn by rote."

"Sumer is icumen in"—the earliest known version of a double canon with a ground bass, in England—is merely a harmonised arrangement of a phrase taken from the old Irish tune: "Tá An Samrad ag Teacht," which may be Englished: "The Summer is Coming," sung time out of mind in ancient Erin to usher in the summer season. This Irish air, wedded by Moore to his lyric "Rich and Rare," was copied by John Fornsete, a Benedictine monk, of Reading, about the year 1230, and, "though animated in its measure," as Lady Morgan writes, "yet, still, like all the Irish melodies, breathes the very soul of melancholy." Its Irish origin was clearly proved by Dr. Young, Protestant Bishop of Clonfert, at the close of the eighteenth century, who ably refuted the English claim to it, as advocated by Dr. Burney, in his History of Music.[5]

In this connection, Ireland can justly claim the invention of what is now called "ground bass" or "pedal point," as its origin must be sought in the old Irish cronan, an allusion to which is to be found as far back as A.D. 592, when it is described as "the most excellent of music." St. Colman Mac Lenan, founder of the See of Cloyne, gives us to understand that the Aidbre (Corur Cronain) was the most favourite form of part singing with the educated musicians of the sixth century.[6] O'Curry calls it "a low murmuring accompaniment or chorus, which, from its name Cronan must have been produced in the throat, like the purring of a cat"; and he adds that the word "croning" [crooning] is an abbreviated anglicised form of "cronaning"—not humming, but purring—a corruption of which has resulted in the calling an old woman a "crone."

Not so long since, it was generally believed that the inclusion of the harp in the arms of Ireland only dated from the reign of Henry VIII., but the fact is that our national instrument appears on coins issued by King John and King Edward I.; and, in 1251, we read that "the new coinage was stamped in Dublin with the impression of the King's head in a triangular harp." A harp was originally the peculiar device of the arms of the Leinster province, and it was subsequently applied to the whole kingdom of Ireland, namely, in heraldic language, "on a field vert, a harp or, stringed argent." Under date of 1269, in the Annals of Clonmacnoise, is recorded the death of Aedh O'Flynn, "a good musician. A similar entry occurs in the Annals of Ulster, but the surname is given as "O'Finn," and he is described as a "master of minstrelsy." [rai oirfídig]

The European fame of the Irish harp was at this epoch well sustained, as is best attested by the following quotation from Dante (1265-1321): —

"This most ancient instrument was brought to us from Ireland, where they are excellently made, and in great numbers, the inhabitants of that island having practised on it for many ages. Nay. they even place it in the arms of the kingdom, and paint it on their public buildings, and stamp it on their coins, giving as a reason their being descended from the Royal Prophet David."[7]

Ralph Higden, a distinguished historiographer, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, describes the music of the Irish harp as "musica peritissima." John de Fordun, a Scottish priest, who wrote in the same century, expressly says that "Ireland was the fountain of music in his time, whence it then began to flow into Scotland and Wales."[8]

In 1329, the annalist, Clyn, has the following entry concerning the massacre of Sir John Bermingham, Earl of Louth, at Bragganstown, near Ardee, on June 10th of that year: —

"Maelrooney Mac Cerbhaill [O'Carroll], chief musician of the kingdom, and his brother Gillakeigh—a famous timpanist and harper, so pre-eminent that he was a Phoenix in his art—were killed in that company and with him fell twenty timpanists who were his scholars."

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NOTES



[1] The editor (Rev Mr. MacLachlan) of this valuable Gaelic MS. says that O'Daly "was the ancestor of the MacVurricks, bards to the MacDonalds of Clanranald."

[2] The husband of Lady Elizabeth de Burgh.

[3] Egerton MSS , No. 74.

[4] In 1876 one of these ornaments was found in the Phoenix Park (See Journal R.S.A., for October, 1878.)—W.H.G.F.

[5] Bishop Young died on November 28th, 1800.

[6] There are seven Irish words to designate various forms of Harmony—in particular foacanim, which is glossed by Zeuss as succino or "singing under."

[7] Dialogo di Vincenzo Galilei, A.D. 1589 (not 1581 as stated by Bunting).

[8] Walker's History of the Irish Bards (1786).
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