A history of an instrument and its players, from the present day back through the dawn of recorded sound into Irish musical history, lore and legend.
Books on Irish traditional musicians are rare. Quarter-of-a-million-word books on Irish traditional musicians are unprecedented. The Wheels Of The World combines extensive new research and interviews to present a rigorous but easily accessible story of an enigmatic instrument and many of the still more enigmatic keepers of its flame across four centuries – blind men, eccentrics, self-aggrandisers, noble heroes, bloody-minded revivalists and at least three people compared to Jimi Hendrix. This is the story of a continuum, from John McSherry, a 21st century icon, backwards in time through his three formative heroes – Paddy Keenan, Liam O’Flynn and Finbar Furey – and thence to Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Johnny Doran, Leo Rowsome, Patsy Touhey and a litany of unrecorded legends before them. It is also a snapshot of professional Irish traditional musicians, after the goldrush of the late 20th century, keeping calm and carrying on.
This is the story of a continuum, from John McSherry, a 21 st century icón, backwards in time through Finbar Furey, Eddie Furey, Paddy Keenan, Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine, Bob Davenport, Dónal Lunny, Peggy Seeger, Martin Carthy, Paddy Glackin, Reg Hall, Michael McGoldrick, Brian Vallely, Bill Leader, Kevin Burke, Helena Rowsome and many more - at the dawn of recorded sound - and thence to find a litany of unrecorded legends before them. It is also a snapshot of professional Irish traditional musicians, afterthe goldrush of the late 20th century, keeping calm and carrying on. Research was carried out at: BBC Written Records Archive, Caversham; British Library, London; and Irish Traditional Music Archive, Dublin. Nearly 60 images, many unpublished, are included.
One chanter, three drones.three regulators, and thirteen keys, too many near-extinctions to mention and 300 years of heroes: that, with a frisson of fairies on moonlit knolls, is the Irish uilleann ('ill-in') pipes.
Uilleann piping is Ireland's equivalent to the story of the blues in America, save that here the trail of legends and lore is richer and deeper by far It is the sound of eighteenth century blues - a micro-tonal virtuoso machine wielded by misfits and geniuses, often one and the same.
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The 'The Wheels of The World' will be published and released by Jawbone Press in September 2015.