365 DotU, Day 41 Goes TradCore!

Well, not really. But still, I’ve gone a little bit over to the (Irish) traditional side of the Force today, as I continue to explore more-or-less a capella sounds for the week. The tune is an old traditional bit of singing called Donal Og (translated: “Young Daniel”), and it’s a stunning bit of Gaelic language poetry in its original form. In English, I listen most often to two very different versions of the song: Moira Smiley’s more traditional approach and Sheila Chandra’s fascinating atmospheric departure, “Dhyana and Donalogue”. Smiley’s drone and pipe accompaniment is wonderfully stark and full at the same time, while Chandra’s melding of Asian musical styles and vocal approaches with Irish singing takes the song in new and interesting directions.

My own version takes lyrics and a willingness to move things around from Sheila Chandra and its main musical guidance from Moira Smiley, as I try to find a way to make this tune work for me.

The drone in my version is produced by holding open D and G on the electric violin and running the thing through a fuzzy amp with overdrive, sustain, and vibrato pedals going. I omitted the sweeter pipes of Smiley’s version and threw some vocal harmony in over the chorus repeats. There actually isn’t a chorus in the original — I just repurposed a verse and repeated it in places where it wouldn’t normally occur. I also omitted several verses. One of the beauties of old traditional songs is that there has always been more variation in their use and performance than is otherwise acceptable for music that arrives in the age of Recordings. This is my excuse for screwing up a perfectly decent bit of poetry, anyway. ;)


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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