Concert: Womens’ Work: Voices of the Highlands - James Ruff explores the rich Highland repertoire for voice and harp from the 16th to 18thcenturies, composed or collected by women, who, though excluded from official positions, proved important bearers of tradition in Scotland as musicians, singers, song collectors, and poets. Come experience their songs in Gaelic and Scots – laments for husbands, brothers and kinsmen, noble celebrations of clan chiefs, and beautiful farewells to home and to the ‘Music of the Clarsach’ woven together with haunting examples of the enigmatic ‘Port’ – said to be old harp music preserved in early Scottish lute manuscripts – rarely heard repertoire that is sure to transport you.
Course 1: Exploring Historical Sources: Early Gaelic Harp Repertoire for All Harps - To play the Early Gaelic Harp means to become a sleuth in search of early repertoire – a challenge in a culture of oral tradition! Come discover where to find early Scottish and Irish harp repertoire and learn representative pieces from each source along the way. We will focus on Edward Bunting’s field manuscripts, 17th/18th century Scottish lute manuscripts, 18th/19th century publications, and later traditional archive recordings. These treasures all yield important clues on arranging for the early Gaelic harp - and all harps - along historical lines, where specific fingering, damping and bass hand use greatly enhance both expression and style.
Course 2: Singing Historic Songs at the Harp – First Steps in Self-Accompanying along Historical Lines - The harp has long been tied to poetry and singing, though getting a song up and singing at the harp can be a daunting task! In this course open to all, we will break down the act of singing to our own harp accompaniment into practical steps. We will look at representative historic songs in English (John Dowland), Latin (from Dublin Troper), Scots (King Orfeo) and Gaelic (Òran Chlann ‘ic Neacail), incorporating effective tools to match poetry to tune, learn and pronounce expressively in each language, and finally explore historic techniques and style further heightening each song’s expression at the harp.