Gift Music Meme

This is the first meme I’ve created; I’d been thinking about it for a while, and with help and collusion from my friend MacAllister Stone, I think I’ve figured out how it might work. Won’t you play too?

The purpose of this meme is to gift a friend with a single song you’ve chosen from the iTunes store, and to have the friend blog about the song, and, if they like tag one or more of their friends. You have to have Apple’s free iTunes software for Mac or Windows to use the iTunes store.

  1. Pick one or more of your friends who listens to digital music; preferably someone who already has iTunes and an iTunes account, and who has a blog or Live Journal or something similar.
  2. Songs are .99 cents on iTunes; if people want to send MP3s directly, that’s up to them, but post the song title, artist, and album anyway. I suspect it’s possible to do this with other music services, but I don’t know. There are also lots of good sources for free music on the net; feel free to use those, or to publicize indie artists you like a lot. Oh, and there are free songs at Amazon too.

  3. Select the song you want to give.
  4. Post this meme on your blog or Live Journal, and list your friends, the songs you’ve chosen for them, (keep the song a secret until after you friend receives it, if you’d like), a link to their blog, and these instructions. Feel free to add a comment about why you chose the song.
  5. Purchase the single song for each friend, one at a time, (that is don’t buy three songs for three friends.) If you want to use the iTunes store Give music feature, find the song, then click the Gift button that’s included in the link for the album the song is on (near the top); then click the Gift button for that song. When you check out, you’ll be shown a form with spaces for your name, your friend’s name and email address, and a short message. This will be emailed to your friends, with instructions about how to download their gift songs. Use the message to send them a link to the permalink for your blog post about the meme so they’ll know to blog about the song. Use “Gift music” as the Tag if you tag posts.
  6. If you decide to “gift back” someone who tags you, please also tag someone else, so we can have a variety of musical tastes, journals, and people.

Troubleshooting: You do need to have the iTunes application installed before you try to download the song; it wouldn’t hurt to have it open either. If the URL in the email from the iTunes store doesn’t seem to work, try copying it, line by line to a new document, deleting any return characters or extra spaces your email program may have inserted as it “broke” the URL into separate lines.

I’m tagging the following innocent victims:

Updated: I’ve managed to find songs for some other people–that’s both hard and fun–so here are some others I’m tagging:

  • Dori Smith“Come on a My House” by Rosemary Clooney from 16 Most Requested Songs: Rosemary Clooney
  • Kip Manley “Avanti” by Corvax Corus from Mille Anni Passi Sunt

It’s not Medieval, but It is Irish: On Irish Traditonal Music

For the last couple of days, I’ve been tormented by various people’s organizations’ ideas of what Irish music sounds like; mostly it’s been sort of like elevator music in dialect. If I’m lucky, it’s been Enya. Here are some alternatives.

The Chieftains

You can’t really talk about traditional Irish music without mentioning the Chieftains. They brought traditional musicians into the twentieth century, aiding in not just popularizing Irish music all over the world, to generations, but doing an enmourmousservice in preserving the tradition. The Best of the Chieftains is a compilation from three of the earlier, and best, of the Chieftains’ albums: The Chieftains 7, The Chieftains 8, and Boil the Breakfast Early—three of the band’s recordings from the late 1970s. You”ll hear former members Matt Molloy on flute and vocalist/bodhran player Kevin Cunniffe now better known from Planxty, the Bothy band and solo performances. I’m particularly fond of “Boil The Breakfast Early” and “The Job of Journeywork.”

Gaelic Storm

This is a compilation album, featuring tunes from the previous three albums, with a couple of new ones. I think this is an excellent way to try Gaelic Storm. They began to become popular outside of Santa Monica, where they began as the favorite at a local Irish bar, after their appearance in the steerage scene of the film Titanic. My favorite of all their songs is “Johnny Jump Up,” about the mystical powers of cider. They’re a bar band, but they’re full of energy and lots of fun to listen to, even if you don’t dance.

Patrick Ball

Turlough O’Carolan (Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) was a blind Irish harper and composer who lived 1670 to 1738. He left a legacy of fabulous music. To be fair, it’s clear that Turolough was well educated in current musical styles, but still, there’s much in the music he left us that is not typical of music in the eighteenth century. This album, which features the music of O’Carolan, is a lovely introduction to O’Carolan’s music, and a fine example of Patrick Ball’s talents.

Technorati Tags:Irish music

Gallic Carynx Find

Last week both Mirabillis.ca and Celtica Studica linked to stories about an incredible find of five Celtic battle trumpets, or carnyxes. The 470 objects and fragments of objects, (the find is stupendous in terms of the objects) were found at the end of September during a dig at Naves, in Correze in southern France, in a ditch hollowed out of a Gallic-Roman temple. Their find doubles the number carnyxes (or really, pieces of individual carnyxes) we have. Four of the carnyxes end in boar’s head bells, the fifth, a snake.

You can read about the find yourself here; it’s a remarkable collection, which would be notable for the other artifacts even without the carnyxes. This article has a picture.

deskford_carynxSometime around 1816, in a field in Deskford, near Leitchiston, in Banffshire, Scotland, the remains of a Carynx was found, one of only 5 to be found Europe-wide, until now. Dating as far back as between 100 and 300 C. E., the fragment was the “head” or bell of the carnnx, featuring a wild boars’ head (see the image on the left), was made of beaten bronze sheets and brass findings. At Deskford, in north-east Scotland, the finest example of the surviving carnyx parts was found, amongst other offerings, in a peat bog.

The carnyx is held vertically when played, so that the sound emerges from the bell of the trumpet, about 10 feet from the ground, well over the head of most men. When properly played, the carnyx is both loud and penetrating. Diodorus Siculus, discussing the Gauls, wrote “Their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbarian kind; they blow into them and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war” (Hist. 5.30); later, Polybius in a description of the 225 B. C. E. battle of Telamon describes the terror of the Romans at the onslaught of the Celts. He emphasizes

the dreadful din, for there were innumerable hornblowers and trumpeters and, as the whole army were shouting their war-cries at the same time, there was such a tumult of sound that it seemed that not only the trumpeters and the soldiers but all the country round had got a voice and caught up the cry

(Hist. 29.5-9; Cited in Cunliffe, Barry. The Ancient Celts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 103).

detail from the Gundestrup cauldron showing a carynx

Detail from the Gundestrup cauldron showing a carnyx

The carnyx is frequently featured on ancient Celtic coins, on Roman sculpture, even on sculpture in India. Perhaps the best known example of the carnyx in art is on one of the interior panels of the Gundestrup Cauldron (see image to your right). In the late 1990s John Kenny reconstructed a playable carnyx based on the fragments found in Deskford. He subsequently recorded several CDs featuring the Carnyx, even working with performers like Kathryn Tickell, who features the ancient horn on her album Ensemble Mystical, on the “Burning Babe” track. You can hear a bit of John Kenny playing the carnyx here, or on his Voice of the Carnyx album here.

Cantigas de Santa Maria

A few days ago Metafilter had an interesting link to this site about the Cantigas de Santa Maria. The Cantigas de Santa Maria represent one of the largest collections of solo songs from the middle ages. The manuscripts were written during the reign of King Alfonso X “El Sabio” (1221-1284), though probably not actually by him, all attributions aside. The Cantigas, 420 narrative and lyric poems in praise of the Virgin Mary, are preserved in four manscripts, all closely related, and include the music (with duration and timing information). The lyrics of the Cantigas are in Galician-Portuguese, the literary language of thirteenth century Castile. Two of the manuscripts are illuminated, with images closely related to the lyrics of the songs. The illustrations are not only charming works of art in their own right, they’re highly regarded by music historians for the information they provide about early music performance and instruments.
The Cantigas Database project, directed by Dr Stephen Parkinson, is assembling data about the cantigas, including possible sources of the texts, classifying and organizing them in terms of content and type, with plans to analyze the texts and their illustrations.

Somewhat surprisingly, I first learned of the Cantigas, not from one of the early music classes I took as an undergraduate, but from a passing reference in Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. In II 2 of The Game of Kings the always allusive Lymond Crawford writes in a letter to Christian Stewart, delivered via the inadvertent services of Agnes Herries:

Rosa das rosas e Fror das frores
Dona das donas, Sennor das sennores

Those are lines from Cantiga 10; you can see the accompanying illumination here from Cantigas de Santa Maria: Spain, ca. 1280, Codex Ms. T. I. 1 (Cantigas [Canticles] de S. Maria). Done under Alfonso X. Madrid, El Escorial.

The iTunes music store has a couple of albums containing selections from the Cantigas, including one from the Unicorn Ensemble, featuring “Rosa das Rosa.” You can hear it here
The Cantigas de Santa Maria: V. Rosa das rosas
. In addition to the melodic tonalities we associate with Western European medieval music, you can also hear the influence of medieval Arabic classical music.

Matty Groves Reggae Style

Tuesdays are “new music” days at Apple’s iTunes Music store, so when I finished writing today, I took a look. There’s a lot of new stuff this week, and I do mean a lot. It looks like Apple’s managed to license pretty much the complete catalog of indie label Rounder Records. That’s pretty good news, from where I stand, since Rounder’s catalog includes lots of historic jazz, folk, and international traditional music, including the Alan Lomax Collection (available from Apple) and the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, which includes people like Lead Belly and Jelly Roll Morton. Rounder owns and produces the Philo Records folkmusic label, so I was pretty happy to see them.

The name of one of the new Rounder bands caught my eye—”Blinky and the Roadmasters,” so I clicked the album title “Crucian Scratch Band Music.” The songs were rather pleasant reggae-influenced Caribbean. I listened to a couple samples from the album, then noticed the track “Matty Gru.”
Matty Gru
The name, as well as the lyrics, (the short sample includes the refrain “It is time to rise and go home, Rise up little Matty Gru and go home”) reminded me of Child Ballad 81 (sorry about the midi) “Matty Groves,” (you might know it as Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard”) and with good reason. According to the Library of Congress, “Matty Gru” entered Blinky and the Roadmaster’s play list via the local St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands folk drama, “The King George Play.” After a bit more research I’ve learned that another St. Croix band is featured on Zoop Zoop Zoop, which includes not only Matty Gru, but The King George Play, which seems to be a local variant of the British mummer’s tradition.

You can download free legal MP3s of two songs from Blinky and the Roadmasters, “Ay Ay Ay” and “Cigar Win the Race” from Amazon, if you’re curious and don’t have access to Apple’s store.