I recorded this album as I have been fiddling on the piano since my father died in October 1971 and denied that it was such an important tool for whatever little creative expression I have. I don’t compose using the piano but find that I can express myself and paint in sound with it in a way that is not so rewarding with other instruments. I disrespected its versatility. It has been a comfort in times of stress. The piano I had used and played on was that of my father and that, I did with a sense of guilt as it was not my piano – it was my father’s. I associated my playing on his instrument with my inadequacies as a composer, and musician, when compared to his genius. But with age comes sense and i discovered that there were people who liked what i did also – i “chilled”. I lately discovered crowd funding and my good wife, Geraldine, inherited a little nest egg from her father Jimmy and I bought a piano of my own and recorded this album in the following weeks. Here it is now and I filled the recording space with pictures of emotions and people and things that I love and some that I miss greatly. There is some unfinished business here also as I never allowed myself to contemplate much on the death and loss of either my father Seán or my mother Ruth – it has been a territory too terrible to travel for the last forty years. Armed with my new piano, I have taken a few steps into its unchartered realms. There are no choirs or fellow musicians or tricks of multi-track recording or any other camouflage for me to hide behind in this album and I hope that you find something in it that resonates with you and makes your investment of your time and money worthwhile. There is no reverb or mixing or other such tricks – just me, 2 mikes (Rhodes) the piano in my room and you, the listener at this end. Guím gach rath ort.
Peadar. Lughnasa 2015
Doire an Chuilinn (Holly Grove/Wood)
During the 1980s, we Gaeltacht people and Irish speakers generally campaigned to have a TV channel in our own language. In 1991 the national broadcaster RTE commissioned a summer series from would be director/ producers for this proposed channel. We had to put our courage and creativity where our mouth was and so I made my first film. The film was a kind of poem with no commentary – just observed sound and conversation and this tune was the musical soundtrack. It followed a day in the life of a couple who were my neighbours. They lived on a farm where the cattle and fields had names and one talked to the bees and grew wonders in their garden. All around was in tune. The name of their Townland was Doire an Chuilinn. My film got a special mention in the Celtic Film Festival but i must admit that once we received the channel and i dutifully gave a few years film making as producer or director, my heart was not in it and i reverted back to music and my other interests. I was very fond of Jehr and Nancy Uí Mhuirithe. This track is dedicated to them and their life.
Ril an Phiano (The Piano Reel)
This is just an idea that came to me one morning during the recording week. I could hear it in my ear and could only get rid of it by making it real. This is something I find I have to do with dreams as well but in that case I just make a bad painting and once the idea is materialized, it goes to rest.
Cá bhfuil tú (Where are you?)
As we grow older we loose friends as they drop out of our existence. A new pattern in their life or death causes this. But we still hanker after their company and search or seek them in our hearts and minds. This emotion, for me, caused the existence of this piece.
My mother Ruth was half Italian Huguenot and Dublin but born and raised a Cork Woman. She was extremely bright and courageous and socially minded. She was very much a match for my father and when he died, the life left her and she followed some six years later after a horrendous battle with cancer. I always feel I gave her a hard time. I seemed to be battling her rather then being affectionate to her in her lonelyness, a fact that i now greatly regret. She gave me everything. She loved us and nurtured us and instilled in us all that we seven siblings now are. We never made it easy for her. With the exception of my sister’s wedding ten days before Ruth’s death, our mother never got to see us married or any of her grandchildren, to see our success nor to see, finally, the recognition of her husbands works. Her social conscience and feel for community development and education came from her Italian background in the high remote Alpine mountains of Torrepelice, west of Turin. My mother’s name and vivacity lives on in our own daughter Ruth today. This is the last bridge or piece of music i tackled. I sat down to do this on the morning of 14/10/2015 at 10:12 with the record button switched on to help my memory, and this is the next five minutes. Please forgive the birds in the background. Their aviary is in the next room and they are always busy in morning-time.
Seán Ó Riada was my father. He was a very deep and creative man who loved to give the impression of being very Avant garde and modern and European and then he reverted to his parents’ deep roots in our indigenous culture and heritage. He was a genius. He always had poor health and died when he was barely forty. I was sixteen at the time. He took me by the hand over the threshold and into the land of imagination and separate realities and along the rich roads into who i am, where i came from and the direction towards which I travel. In the earlier years after his death, journalists would often ask me “And how does it feel to live under your father’s shadow?” to which I always truthfully answered “I travel under the bright light of his sunshine”. He really was a conservative/’coimeadach’, grámhar Irishman who loved his people and his country and expressed his knowledge of them, their story and struggle in his music. Those closest to him were and are aware of this truth and the warmth of his company and affection.
Ceol na Talamhan (Music of the earth)
I had a keen sense that life around us was changing rapidly and that we should record our existence before the culture disappeared into the realms of Folklore. After frustrating years of haggling and searching, i finally found partners in Nigel Warren Green, and Irish Screen and while they got their film on Sean Ó Riada (Vertical Man) I got the backing for a years filming in Múscraí and got to record the life of the people and their surroundings and customs on film. I had met Peter Carr through another series in 1991 called “Bringing it all Back Home” and was greatly taken with his ability as director and asked him to direct this 13 part series which was broadcast eventually on TG4 our new Irish Language TV channel. This music was the theme soundtrack and i dedicate it to Peter and to all the crew who worked on this important archival film Project.
Capal Seánaí (Séanaí’s horse)
Our darling son Seán is a twin and afflicted with a horrible metabolic condition, which has rendered him trapped in a very poorly functioning body. Yet he has baffled all medical gurus and survived with great courage and beams his beautiful presence into our lives daily. He has a thing about horses. His twin brother Séamus is a good athlete. He decided he would take to the piano. I wrote this little piece for him as a practice exercise. It is a very simple few notes between them both.
Jimmy Moloney was my father in law. A great East Clare set dancer with lovely footwork, Jimmy was a farmer, an ardent GAA follower, a man made in the older mold of a more honest and earthy people then inhabit our land today. Jimmy died in 2014. We miss his sharp eye and judgment, his laugh and rich store of native knowledge.
An Scála (The Scale)
This melody came into my head as I was playing for the funeral mass of my neighbor Danny Malachy. He was a nice man and when I went to his wake, shortly before his body was moved out of his home and down the hillside to our church in Cúil Aodha, i found his wife and their family around his coffin in the depths loneliness and sadness in their last moments before they would loose sight of his face for ever. We mountain people may be tough or reserved in front of strangers but in our own company, we cry together when lonely and laugh in joy and are unrestrained in the delight of each others company. Death will come to all of us in time. We are all basically the same. And so it was that, as we waited for mass to begin, i was playing away and the musical scale came to my mind and this tune came out. I dedicate this tune to Danny Malachy. I have found that seeing the good in people and recognizing their love of you as friend and neighbor is a much more rewarding and richer life to live then a life noticing the negative and the smarmy promotion of the news of misfortune. Knowing Danny enriched my life. He was the center of his family’s life.
There have been two people in my life that have been completely adoring and loving and could never see the slightest fault in me. They are my daughter Sadhbh and my wonderful mother in Law Kathleen Burke Moloney. She died in 2013. She was a brilliant set dancer and like her grand daughter, would commence weeping with joy at the sound of ‘good’ music. She loved well-played dance music with a good pulse. She was completely blind to my human frailty and my heart always glowed in her company. We all miss her but I have to say that I really was lucky in marrying the girl I loved but also in gaining a wonderful family through that marriage and becoming an honary citizen of that wonderful tribe of East Clare people.
Fiachra was a wonderful handsome intelligent boy. He qualified as an engineer and married my sister Liadh. He got cancer and died at the age of 24. His family and ours were devastated by his loss. He was the editor for the film series Ceol na Talún and was dead by the time his work appeared on television. His mother Peggy and father Donncha have travelled over a bridge that I am terrified of myself. His loss to them and his brothers, only they can know. My sister Liadh was treascartha or flattened and we wondered whether she would survive at all after such a blow so soon after loosing her parents. But she was also her parents’ daughter and picked up her courage and luck favoured her when she later met Nicky and married and had three wonderful girls. But Fiachra is always part of our lives. I could not speak about him or his death for months and then, one day, I was in Sulán studios with a little spare time left in a recording session and suddenly this came out. Making music has a wonderful way of healing for the musician.
This track arose when I was asked to appear on a TG4 TV arts program for interview and maybe play a piece. As usual I could not resist the temptation to make something new rather then using a well tried and tested older piece. This is what came out. They probably did not realize that it was a new piece actually composed in their space. But now you can hear it and give it whatever value it deserves of itself.
This is a melody that came to me as I was recording this album. I would like to dedicate it to the wife of one of my good friends and true supporters over all the years. She is a steady, tough, quiet, loving lady – the kind of partner a musician is really fortunate to have considering the life and strain a musician’s partner marries into. They have to watch their artist partner lionized and adored and used and abused. The territory is intense at times and full of exaggerations and extremes. But it does have its compensations I am sure. But then, you would have to ask them – the partners- that question.
Musicians and singers often traverse life through a different reality to the general population. They are the first asked to any event and, quite often, the last to be paid. They spend long and lonely hours travelling in the dark hours of night. They are exposed to the loneliness and heart ache of the people and are expected to provide the exhilaration for celebration in good moments. They ply their trade by drawing on their own inner core. This depletes and should be replenished but in modern culture that is not recognized. It can be a very lonely space at times and we musicians share a comradeship and love that is very deep because of this strange realm we traverse. This music is an expression of that love and comradeship and whether your name is John or Eamon or Martin or Caoimhin or Seán or Christy or Phil or Glen or if you are a member of my choirs or Ceoltóirí Chualan or indeed one of those musical friends I have shared tunes and songs with, you know very well what I mean. It has been a privilege and joy to share life with you. And it is a great sadness and loss when one of our company ‘steps off the bus’ to the next life. Thanks for all the shared emotion and joy.
The Beethoven Irish Airs.
Beethoven took over a ‘gig’ that was originally Hayden’s. The ‘gig’ as to arrange Irish airs that were collected for the Scotch Publisher Thomson. Thomson had received the idea from Robert Burns and he provided 72 Irish airs collected in Ireland, Thompson commissioned Thomas Moore to provide Lyrics and the work proceeded. Haydn had started but death took him out of the equation. Beethoven took over and his arrangements were published in batches. They were ostensibly for use by the growing bourgeois demand as drawing room entertainment. At one stage Schubert tried to muscle in but oul Ludwig would have none of it. He was very taken with these Irish airs and their echoes can be heard throughout themes in his symphonic work. The original Irish airs were all identified once again in later years but twelve sternly remained without origin. My cousin Luke Verling put together a project to have these twelve re constituted or retro-engineered back to their original lines. He asked the Harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh and myself to have a go, which we did. We recorded six each but alas the recession hit Ireland and funding was just not available to further the project. I place my seven recordings here and hope people may enjoy them. Luke had invested much work and research in this idea and I thank him for thinking of me and introducing me to this project.
I have to say that I found the process of peeling away and removing the demands of vertical harmonization and it’s structure of cadences very interesting.
It was also a lesson to me in how myths and rumours about a song or musician can become an ‘erroneous’ truth with the passing of time. “Those evening Bells” is a very well known song in the Soviet era and quite often mistakenly thought of as a Russian folk song.
Mo bhuíochas le Geraldine a’s mo chlann as ucht a dtacaíocht agus foighne. Gan iad, bheadh mo shaoghal dealbh Mo bhuíochas leo sin go léir a thacaigh liom leis an bhfeachtas Fundit chun na taifid seo do thabhairt chun críche, le Séamus Ó Riada agus Máire Ní Dhuinín as ucht a gcuid soathair chun an obair do thabhairt in’ bhur láthair agus Edel as ucht a dearadh clúdaigh.
1 Doire an Chuilinn (Holly Grove/Wood)) 4.15
2 Ril an Phiano (The Piano Reel) 2.31
3 Cá bhfuil Tú? (Where are you?) 5.39
4 Ruth 4.33
5 Seán Ó Riada 5.17
6 Ceol na Talamhan (Music of the Earth) 5.41
7 Capal Seánaí (Seány’s horse) 3.16
8 Jimmy 3.18
9 An Scála (The Scale) 5.43
10 Kathleen 4.53
11 Fiachra 4.13
12 Oscailt Clabhsúr_(Opening Finishing) 4.12
13 Val 3.15
14 Cáirdeas (Friendship) 5.49
1 Póigín a Stoirín (A Kiss dear Maid) 3.36
2 Brostaigh a stór (Quick we have but a moment) 3.19
3 Cloig le clap sholas oiche (Those Evening Bells) 5.03
4 Bláithín na Sceithe. (The Briery Rose) 2.56
5 ‘Sí an bhláithín dearg mo ghrá. (My Love is like a Red Red Rose) 3.02
6 Gaibh go réidh ansa. (Row Gently Here) 3.37
7 Cáitín Ní Chearna (Kate Kearny) 2.50
Recorded and engineered in the artists home - An Draighean, Cúil Aodha.
Cover design Edel Butler
Photographs Séamus Ó Riada.
All music composed and arranged Peadar Ó Riada 2015
C & P Peadar Ó Riada www.peadaroriada.ie 2015 PORCD 019