Yesterday, I listened to my brother listen to "Beowulf," that ancient poem that's been adapted into several different movies/ storylines. While listening along and thinking about Grendal as a t-rex dinosaur haunting southern Scandinavia and Grendal's mother sounding like a water-loving dinosaur living in a lake, it got me thinking. My ancestry, as far as I could trace it back, goes all the way to Scandinavia via the Vikings. It made me wonder if any of my red-headed ancestors were dino hunters like Beowulf, if any of them did amazing feats like that in their homeland. I'll probably never know, but it was still an interesting thought, possibly having an ancestor like that.
No, this isn't "The Ring." I mean, seven days until nanowrimo and my life goes down the tubes for a month. The contest starts at midnight on November 1st, so seven nights from tonight. Seven days to back out at the last minute. Seven days to wonder if I can balance this huge project with school and living life normally. Seven days to finish preliminary world-building of my new untitled world. Seven days to finish Socrates and Plato. Quite a lot to do, and the contest hasn't even started yet. I'm sure if I think about this too closely, I'll lose my nerve. But, no, I must resist. I'm going to do this, and it's entirely feasible. November has 30 days, and the goal is 50,000 words by midnight of December 1st. I did the math and determined that if I write 2,000 words a day, I could finish early or on time... provided I run into no plot kinks which I'm sure will happen. Plus, I have the guys on the BotB forum as extra support for advice and such like that, like they did during last year's contest.
On the plus side, the contest is almost here. I drew a map of my world yesterday, and it really got me stoked. I also made a trailer/ slideshow using random Greek pictures, which has also made me excited. I'm ready to get this story started and to try something new. The link to the trailer is:
Probably because of my mad dash to finish a 50,000 word novel (roughly about 90 pages of a word document with 12 font), I won't be posting here very much unless it's an update on my word count or announcing that I passed the 50,000 mark. Now I'm feeling excited again.
Having a great love of Irish music and listening to it probably 50% of the time (though probably more), I started mulling over how it could be categorized. After thinking about it, I've come up with my own organization. The following is only my perception of Irish music.
This kind of music is the good old Irish oldies, the stuff that the purists play. They use all-traditional instruments like the bodhran, the harp, etc..., and their sound often sounds rustic, sort of like how American bluegrass sounds. The Chieftains would fit into this genra, playing oldies like "Boil the Breakfast Early" and "Carolan's Welcome". Clannad, in their pre-1982 "Theme from Harry's Game" days, would fit as well with their pieces like "Eleanor Plunkett," "Dulaman," and "Na Buchailli Alainn." However, they did turn slightly more electric with the keyboard towards the end, though they retained that rustic feel. Irish band Solas in their 1st two albums would also fit. They stuck with Irish and even a few American folk songs with traditional instruments and Karan Casey's distinct, youthful voice, though they later turned more pop-oriented.
Modern traditional is taking traditional Irish songs but playing them without the rustic feel of bands like The Chieftains. Irish singer Meav fits into this category, largely performing either folk songs or traditional Irish but usually without the normal instruments. Orla Fallon's first CD "The Water Is Wide" is much the same way, performing largely acapella and accompanied by the gentle harp, though a few other songs of hers use other non-traditional instruments like the piano. The High Kings would also fit here, singing old songs like "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" but also focusing on other non-traditional songs. I think the general rule that I read elsewhere is that if an Irish song is sung in English, then it is relatively new (within the last few hundred years) but if sung in Gaelic it is an oldie.
New Age Traditional
This is a small genra, as I only know so far of one artist in it: Aine Minogue. Aine plays with acoustic instruments, especially her harp, but she focuses on nature and Celtic paganism in her themes and in the purpose of her music, such as using the Greek myth of Pan in "Fill It to the Brim" or basing an entire CD on pagan Celtic ceremonies like "Between Worlds."
Before I go further, let me define what my definition of New Age is: I define it not as the sound of the music but its purpose or its lyrics. New Age music, to me, focuses on pagan religions like Wicca, on nature, or on other myths from around the world.
Ireland's most predominant New Age singer is Enya, though she herself doesn't like being put in the genra, despite her lyric's strong focus on nature and even a small focus on the bloodthirsty druids' religion in the song "Memory of Trees." Moya Brennan would also fit her, even though she does not like the genra either. Her lyrics often center around nature or on Celtic Christianity (which, at best, is a mixture of Celtic paganism and Catholicism); her album "Two Horizons" strongly indicates this, being about a spiritual experience in finding a mythical harp with the help of a mythical figure from the past. Norwegian-Irish group Secret Garden would also fit into this category with their songs like "Dawn of a New Century." Choral group Anuna is New Age somewhat, the premise of the group being to produce music so others can find their spirituality as well as in their songs "Wild Song" and "Shining Water."
Commercial is when the Irish re-make and glamorize their songs for American audiences. Celtic Woman and Celtic Thunder are both examples, though they are moving strongly away from traditional and Gaelic to American pop. Dance shows Riverdance and Lord of the Dance may use themes of paganism or mythology with a few traditional instruments or the Irish sound, but they too are commercial.
American is attempts to recreate Irish music by non-Irish artists. Maggie Sansone plays her hammered dulcimer and does traditional songs like "Jezebel Carol" and "Mist Covered Mountains of Home," and she interprets them well, staying faithful to traditional Irish sound; her album "Mist and Stone" is an excellent example of this, and I recommend it. Loreena McKennitt, considered Canada's Enya, has performed traditional pieces though has moved into more New Age regions with her lyrics and her lovely additions of Middle Eastern sounds. The CD "Celtic Fantasy" is another good example of this genra. The CD focuses on Irish legends and lore though in a non- New Age way; it is mostly made up of instrumental pieces led by the fiddle, but it has a sound much like Secret Garden, maintaining its Irish heritage.
This genra is pretty much anything that doesn't fit anywhere else. Clannad, despite having a sound like Enya's, is different in terms of lyrics, as most of their lyrics (the exception are their soundtracks) are not focused on nature or mythology that much. Moya Brennan also fits here, sometimes being in the New Age realm and sometimes not, like with her first two albums and her recent "Signature." Orla Fallon is also here, as her album "Distant Shore" doesn't fit elsewhere. Anuna is also here because of its occasional focus on traditional songs like "Si Do Mhaimeo" or old Catholic songs like "Sanctus." The Corrs are also here because they are a mixture of sappy pop and a few takes on traditional songs like their album "Home."
And so, that are my categories for Irish music. I'll probably think of more genras or more artists to add later, but for now, that is how I look at Irish music. It is actually a very large branch of music if one looks at it, and it is very diverse in all the artists and songs that make it up.
Sorry for lack of posts, but I have no new topic in my brain as of yet. I've got a few ideas, but I'm not sure if I should act on them or not. I'll try to think of something soon, though I'm not unwilling to take requests.