New CD Resonance available to buy from this page.
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“Resonance” is the debut CD by the newly-formed duo, Amala: Reidun Schlesinger (harp) and Paul de Grae (guitar). It features music from several centuries, in original arrangements. The emphasis is on Irish music, though not exclusively. There are several tracks of traditional Irish tunes as well as pieces from the Irish harp repertoire. There are also traditional tunes from Reidun’s native Belgium and from Sweden, France and America; a set of tunes from Playford’s 17th century collection; a jazz piece by Dave Brubeck; and two of our own (rather jazz-tinged) compositions.
We bring our own aesthetic to the interpretation of these diverse kinds of music, and that’s what makes it work as an album, rather than just a succession of unrelated tracks. All traditional music is a balancing act between conservation and innovation, between individual expression and communal acceptance. Both ends of the spectrum are needed. For ourselves, while we admire those who strive for authenticity, we aim more for a personal approach, one based on respect for tradition but not bound by it.
An example of this approach is our version of “Miss Hamilton”, a composition of the Kerry harper Cornelius Lyons (1680-1750). As well as composing original music, Lyons was famous in his day for his variations on existing airs such as “The Coolin”. So in homage to his experimental spirit, we play some improvised variations of our own – but only after we’ve played a pretty faithful rendition of the original “Miss Hamilton”, as collected by Bunting in 1802 from harper Patrick Linden and published in his “A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland” (1840).
Similarly, in our settings of two French mazurkas from the Auvergne region, we have some fun by adding some jazzy improvisations to the first one, and tweaking the second one to play it in 5/8 – again, the “traditional” version comes first, then we put our own spin on it.
Our “Blackbird three ways” features three different settings of this fine traditional air – two from opposite ends of Ireland (the song air as collected by PW Joyce in County Limerick in the early 19th century, and a mid-20th century reel setting by Donegal fiddler John Doherty), and in between, a setting from the American Appalachian tradition.
It was important to us to record this album completely live – no overdubs, no guest musicians, just ourselves. So, what you hear on the album is what you’ll hear when you come to a gig. We chose to record in Garry O Briain’s studio on the edge of The Burren in County Clare – an inspirational man and an inspirational location. Garry understood exactly what we wanted, and set us up in a natural playing situation, with just a low sound baffle between us and a careful microphone placing, producing a true “Amala sound”. We like the result. We hope you do too!