And speaking of ancient Irish songs, I have a book filled with more than a hundred of them! The book is called The Ancient Music of Ireland, and it's contents are all arranged for piano by a great man named Edward Bunting (though I prefer them on guitar!). If what the small blurb about Bunting on the back of the book is true, then this man may have saved the better part of what was, at the time, the disappearing musical tradition of Ireland. So the story goes, Edward (1773-1843) was tasked with notating a traditional harp performance when he was 19 and became so inspired by the music that he set out on a journey across northwest Ireland to collect and save more of the traditional music.
My particular book has titles, but no words to any of the songs and usually no dates or authors associated with them either. It's all quite mysterious! Funnily, the image on the front of the book depicts almost the exact scenario I was describing earlier with the bard playing to the noble and his courtiers. Curiously the expression on the noble isn't the most ecstatic; maybe the bard said something a little racy.
While playing through the songs, a lot of them have a sound of very contrapuntal writing (as they are quite contrapuntal, except for their use of parallel thirds) but most of them aren't modal. It's an interesting blend of harmonic and pre-harmonic sounds. A lot of them have a sort of dance-tune flair and some of them have funny titles. One of my favorite titles is "Huish The Cat". I'm enjoying this book so much, actually, that I'm considering creating a series of guitar/piano covers of select songs from it. Let me know if that sounds cool! In any case, enjoy your holiday and listen to the music!
Bunting, Edward. The Ancient Music of Ireland: Arranged for Piano. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000. Print.
Hackney, Ryan, Amy Hackney Blackwell, Garland Kimmer, and Ryan Hackney. 101 Things You Didn't Know about Irish History: The People, Places, Culture, and Tradition of the Emerald Isle. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.