Descriptive Piece: ‘Drunken Kelly’

Ward, Conor (2014) Descriptive Piece: ‘Drunken Kelly’. Fiddler Magazine, 21 (3). ISSN 1079-9974

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A descriptive piece can be termed succinctly as ‘storytelling through music’. In Irish traditional music, the best known example of this type is the ‘Fox Chase’. It was played in Ireland as early as the 18th century1. For this particular piece, the uilleann pipes portray the story of the chase by imitating the barks of hounds, the trumpets of the hunters and the howls of the fox. In the Counties of Leitrim and Longford there is a rich fiddle tradition of which a large number of music manuscripts dating back as far as the mid-nineteenth century have survived. Among these manuscripts are a number of descriptive pieces, which include: ‘The Hare in the Corn’ (a similar theme to the ‘Fox Chase’); ‘The Old Man Rocking the Cradle’ and ‘Drunken Kelly’. In all of these, scordatura, or ‘cross-tuning’ as it also referred to, is employed by the fiddle player to create the necessary imitations required by the pieces2. The main focus of this article is ‘Drunken Kelly’.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Irish traditional music; Descriptive piece; Storytelling through music; Scordatura; Cross-tuning.
Subjects: Arts and Humanities > Music
Research Centres: Centre for Creative Arts, Media & Music
Depositing User: David Kearney
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2014 17:26
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2014 16:10

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