Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flute Obsession

Flute Obsession 1 through 3 are albums of various wooden flute players from around. Best to let the album notes speak for them selves. If you'd like a copy of Volume 1, go to:

All three are available here:

Album Notes
Each track incorporates a variety of techniques of articulation, breath, phrasing, rhythm, tone & timbre. It is also a unique reference for students of the flute and of the music.

Many like to describe the world of traditional Irish flute playing as existing along an axis between those who think the instrument is played with the fingers and those that think that it is all embodied, about what happens between diaphragm and embouchure. Of course, the best players think it is about both. Just listen to the rhythm created by the rolling, octave jumping style of Seamus Tansey, a complete player.

All these elements (and many others) have led to the development of one of the most wonderfully diverse instrumental traditions in the western world. This diversity has been complicated in recent years by musicians such as Jean-Michel Veillon, Grey Larsen, and Mick McGoldrick looking to the new international landscape of music. These flute players can't help themselves from drawing foreign elements into their own performance from traditions such as jazz, Indian flute playing, and, 150 years late, the western art tradition.

All the players here are innovators, re-creating traditional music according to their own aesthetic model, sometimes faithful to ideas of tradition, but always individual. Indeed it could be argued that the most innovative and creative musicians are those that develop their performance behind the high walls of tradition. Musicians such as Eamonn Cotter, Noel Rice, Turlach Boylan, Jimmy Noonan, John Wynne, and Cathal McConnell certainly have the ability to knock these walls down but decide not to, achieving distinctiveness by the most difficult route. Many such players are keeping faith with their idea of a regional style and are often attempting to create interpretations of such styles on this relatively new instrument.

In nearly all the regional traditions of Ireland the fiddle is central. Perhaps the history of the flute in Ireland can be characterised by flute players such as Frankie Kennedy approaching these fiddle traditions with sensitivity, not just trying to fit in with these regional voices but to add to them. Perhaps the journey of one who could be regarded as the greatest fluter of us all, Matt Molloy, can be characterized as a negotiation of the great piping tradition embodied by Seamus Ennis and Liam O'Flynn. In doing so Molloy established the first of what I once heard Séamus MacMathúna describe as cosmopolitan styles, typified here by Barry Kerr, Tom Doorley, Liam Kelly, and Deirdre Havlin, among others.

This double CD, though very much one of contemporary flute playing, is a testament to the tradition that has gone before it. Echoes of the humour of Tom Morrison can be heard in John Skelton's throaty style, and the vibrancy of John McKenna in the forceful Sligo polkas of Martin Gaffney. It is great that two relatively recently deceased bastions of tradition, Micho Russell and Josie McDermott are here, illustrating that the music of past masters is as relevant to the future of traditional music, if not more so, than all so-called 'innovations'. This is made obvious by the inclusion of tracks by Garry Shannon and Marcus Ó Murchú who have kept the music of these two respectively alive in their own recordings.

The ethnomusicologist, Alan Lomax, spoke of the cultural greyout that he believed would be the damnation of the new global cultural economy. The Irish flute, mass-produced in a different culture, acquired through migration and the adoption of 'other' performance practices in the flute bands, should be an obvious example of cultural conformity and blandness. But here you can hear the fallacy of the Lomax thesis. The artillery effect and precision of Hammy Hamilton's northern blast; the peaceful but troubled flow of Mike Rafferty's East Galway idyll; the west Clare complexity of Eamonn Cotter's fingers; the American optimism and verve of Skip Healy and the stupendous technical wizardry of Sylvain Barou 
represent just a small part of the diversity of sounds made by so-called 'Irish' fluters.

Volume 1:
1. Garry Shannon - Reels: Windwood (The Fox on the Town / Lady of the Island / The Primrose Lass)
2. Eamonn Cotter - Reels: The Golden Keyboard/Ambrose Moloney's / Jackson's
3. Marcas Ó Murchú - Jigs: Maho Snaps / Get Up Old Woman & Shake Yourself / The Chicken That Made the Soup
4. Michael McGoldrick  - Reels: Teehan's (Terry Teehan's / Her Long Black Hair)
5. Catherine McEvoy - Reels:The Duke of Leinster / The Ladies Pantalettes
6. Marcus Hernon - Air: The Invisible Corncrake
7. Seamus Tansey - Reels: Mick Flatley's Delight / Ed Reavy's Favourite
8. Barry Kerr - Jig & Reel: Ships in Full Sail / The Three Sisters
9. Deirdre Havlin - Highland & Reel: The Mighty Clansmen (King George IV / Johnny Harling's Reel)
10. Noel Rice - Slip Jig: The Choice Wife
11. Josie McDermott - Reels: The Kerry Man / The Pigeon on the Gate
12. Laurence Nugent - Jigs: Old Hag You Have Killed Me / Pride of Erin Jig / The Monument
13. Mike Rafferty - Reels: The Hard Road to Travel / Shanks Mare
14. Loretto Reid - Waltz: Leon's Waltz
15. Liam Kelly - Piece: The Hungry Rock
16. Colm O'Donnell - Jigs:The Battering Ram / The Besom in Bloom
17. Jimmy Noonan - Reels: Courting Them All / Denis Murphy's Miss McLeod's / Billy Brocker
18. Hammy Hamilton - Reels: The Dark Haired Lass (Mick Hoy's) / Bonnie Anne
19. Turlach Boylan - Reels: Johnny's Wedding / Colonel Rodney's
20. Tom Doorley - Reels: Are You Ready Yet?
21. John Skelton - Air & Barndance: The Fire in the Hearth / Around the Fairy Fort

1. Cathal McConnell - Jigs: Scotland-Ireland / The Hangover / The Fermanagh Curves 
2. Niall Keegan - Reels: Dunmore Lasses / My Love is in America 
3. John Wynne - Reels: The Ballinafad Fancy / Lady Anne Montgomery / The Millhouse
4. Martin Gaffney - Polkas: The Dark Haired Girl Dressed in Blue / The Merry Girl 
5. Joanie Madden - Reels: Molly Ban / Paddy Lynn's Delite / Jack McGuire's / King of the Clans 
6. Paul McGrattan - Air: Easter Snow 
7. Mark Roberts - Jigs: Boys of the Town / The Rollicking Boys of Tandragee 
8. Skip Healy - Reels: Silver Spear / Glen Allen / Bay of Fundy 
9. Sylvain Barou - Reels: Clare's Reel / The Silver Reel / Brendan's Reel 
10. Grey Larsen - Jigs: The Walls of Liscarroll / Maguire's Kick / The Lark on the Strand 
11. Eoghan MacAogáin - Air: Sé Fáth Mo Bhuartha 
12. Fintan Vallely - Reels: Miss Chalmer's Reel / Brian Gibson's Rockforest Reel 
13. Hanz Araki - Hornpipes: The Plains of Boyle / The Ballyoran Hornpipe 
14. June Ní Chormaic - Reels: Fred Finn's / Fr. Newman's Reel 
15. Micho Russell - Reels: The Fermoy Lassies / The Reel with the Birl in It 
16. Seamus Egan - Reels:The Maid of Galway
17. Terry Coyne - Reels: Contentment is Wealth / Tom Ward's Downfall / The Wild Geese
18. Matt Molloy - Reel: Drowsie Maggie 
19. Frankie Kennedy - Reels: The Cat That Ate the Candle / Over the Water to Bessie
20. Jean-Michel Veillon - Breton Dances: Ton Per Bodouin / Dans Fisel 

Volume 2
1. Brendyn Montgomery - Reels: The Roscommon Reel / The Sweet Flowers of Miltown
2. Damien Stenson - Reels: Miss McGuiness / Paddy Gavin's
3. Tara Diamond - Jigs: The Sheep in the Boat / I Buried My Wife and Danced on Top of Her
4. Billy Clifford - Hornpipes: Spellan the Fiddler / Madam If You Please / Grandfather's Thought
5. Brian Lennon - Reels: Colonel Rodgers Favourite / The Happy Days of Youth / Lucky in Love
6. Kevin Crawford - Reels: Hut in the Bog / Cregg's Pipes
7. John Creaven - Jigs: Killavil / Miller's Maggot
8. Mick Loftus - Jigs: The Boys of the Town / The Mist Covered Mountain
9. Emer Mayock: The Fickle Lad/On the Strand/Ollistrum
10. Duncan Davidson - Slip Jig, Jig & Reel: Gan Ainm / Trip to Athlone / Zig Zag Road
11. Desi Wilkinson - Air: My Lagan Love
12. Mike McHale - Hornpipes: McGlynn's / Dunphy's Hornpipe
13. Claire Mann - Slip Jigs: Denis Ryan's / Guzzle Together / Paddy O'Snap
14. Brian Finnegan & Sarah Allen: Larry Get Out of the Bin / Elzic's Farewell
15. Dan Gordon - Reel & 3/2: Maid in the Cherry Tree / Jack is Hunting
16. Michael Clarkson - Reels: McGovern's Favourite / Cronin's
17. Elaine Jeffreys - Reels: Feeding the Birds / Mary McMahon's
18. Dermot Grogan - Hornpipes: The Cliff Hornpipe / Gan Ainm
19. Tom McElvogue - Reels: Thrush in the Storm / The Cacodemon / The Watchmaker
20. Gary Hastings - Reels: Bonnie Anne / Hanley's
21. Harry McGowan - Jigs: The Mill Pond / Brendan Tonra's
22. Michael Hynes - Lullaby: The Cradle Song

1. John Kelly - Reels: The Bush in Bloom / The Old Road to Garry / Captain Kelly's 
2. Peter Molloy - Jigs: The Cuigiu Lassies / Freehan's Jig / The Bride's Favourite 
3. Peter Horan - Hornpipes: Lad O'Bierne's / Sean Ryan's 
4. Gregory Daly - Reel: Trim the Velvet 
5. Justin Murphy - Jigs: The Fly in the Porter / Contentment is Wealth / Gillian's Apples 
6. Sharon Creasey - Hop Jigs: The Promenade / Michael Coleman's Hop Jig / Comb Your Hair and Curl It 
7. Kevin Henry & Maggie Healy - Reels: Tom Ward's / The New Policeman 
8. Mick Hand - Air & Reel: Sliabh geal gua na Feile / Tomeen O'Dea's 
9. Leslie Bingham - Polkas: Standfield's Polkas 
10. Anthony Quigney - Reels:The Bellharbour Reel / The Torn Jacket / The Raveled Hank of Yarn 
11. Chris Norman - Highland Dances: What Would You Like? / Untitled / Untitled 
12. Michael Hurley - Jigs: Deirdre Hurley's / Michael Hurley's #8 
13. Peter Woodley - Air: Grey Dawn Breaking 
14. Michael Tubridy - Step Dance: The Blackbird 
15. Noel Lenaghan - Slip Jigs: A Fig For a Kiss / The Slopes of Slieve Gullion 
16. Sean Ryan (Chicago) - Reels: Saint Ruth's Bush / The Stolen Reel / Dan Breen's 
17. Nuala Kennedy: Da Sixereen / The Plagiarist / Buntata's Sgadan 
18. Thomas Bernard Ryan - Jigs: Brendan Tonra's / Killavil
19. Joe Skelton - Reels: Last Night's Fun / House of Hamill / The Blackthorn 
20. Caoimhín Ó Sé - Jigs: The Bould Thady Quill / Sean Coughlan's Jig 
21. Brendan McKinney - Hornpipe:  McGlinchey's Hornpipe
22. Zac Leger - Air & Reel: The Maid of Coolmore / The Shores of Lough Reagh

Volume 3:
1. Gary Duffy - Slip Jigs: Rohan Conlon's Slip Jig / Darragh Conlon's Slip Jig
2. Conor Byrne - Jigs: Hurry the Jug / Francie Dearg's / Neary's Jig
3. Noel Sweeney - Reels: The Caucus at Secaucus / Lady Gordon's
4. Christy Barry - Air, Reel, Hornpipe & Reel: An Buachaillín Bán / Flanagan's Reel / McCormack's / The Cliff Dwellers
5. Geraldine McNamara - Reels: Splendid Isolation / Patrick's Night 
6. Sarah-Jane Woods - Reels: The Abbey Reel / Fred Finn's
7. Desy Adams - Jigs: The Furze in Bloom / The Cat in the Corner
8. Christine Dowling - Air: The Rushes Green
9. Brendan Mulholland - Reels: O'ot Be Est da Vong / Maid Of The House 
10. Nicolas Buckmelter - Reels: The Rainy Day / The New Mown Meadows
11. Brid O'Donohue - Jigs: The Chorus Jig / Coleman's Jig
12. John Lee - Reels: The Flower of the Flock / The Twelfth Lock / The Absentminded Woman
13. Frank Claudy - Reel: The Thrush in the Storm 
14. Peg McGrath - Air: Easter Snow
15. Seamus Mac Conaonaigh - Reels: Maud Miller's / The Fair-Haired Boy / The Plough and the Stars
16. Nicholas & Anne McAuliffe - Polkas: The Return of Spring / The Mountain Pathway / Up and Away
17. Paddy O'Neill - Reels: It's a Hard Road to Travel / Swing Swang 
18. Aoife Granville - Jigs: I Love You Not and Care For You Not / Dillon's Frolics
19. Alan Doherty - Air & Reels: Cailín na Gruaige Doinne / Peata Beag A Mháthair / Anto's Gambit
20. Claus Steinort - Reels: My Love and I in the Garden / Palmer's Gate
21. David Migoya - Reels: John Lardiner's / The Green Mountain / Glenn Allen Reel
22. Ronan Browne - Air: Rud Beag Mall

1. Norman Holmes - Hornpipe & Reels: Garrett Barry's / Gan Ainm / Orla's Reel
2. Ciaran Somers - Reels: The Yellow Tinker / The Skylark
3. Mick Mulvey - Jigs: John Blessing's Delight / Green Fields of Miltown / Up Leitrim!
4. JP Downes - Reels: The Green Mountain / Earl's Chair
5. Shannon Heaton - Reels:The O'Connor Donn's / The Morning Thrush
6. Tina McSherry - Waltz:Tommy Bhetty's Waltz 
7. Eileen Hassett - Reels: The Flowers of Limerick / The Drogheda Lasses
8. Paul McGlinchey - Reels: Follow Me Down to Carlow / Famous Ballymote / Cronin's
9. Leon Agnew - Air & Reel: Phoenix Island / Paddy Mills' Fancy
10. Kieran O'Hare & John Skelton - Jigs: Paddy Breen's / Put on Your Clothes / The Honeybee
11. Davy Maguire - Air: Port na bPúcaí
12. Louise Mulcahy - Reels: The Bag of Spuds / A View from Across the Valley / The Galway Rambler 
13. Caoimhín O'Raghallaigh - Hornpipe & Reel: The Leitrim Fancy / The First House in Connacht
14. Tim Britton - Air, Jigs & Slides: Caoineadh Uí Dhomhnaill / The Haunted House / The Lark on the Strand / The Bank of Turf / Tom Billy's
15. Isaac Alderson - Reels: The Green-Gowned Lass / The Broken Pledge
16. John Rynne - Reels: Pigeon on the Gate / The Victory Reel / The London Lasses / Courting Them All
17. Mick O'Brien - Air & Jig: Táim Cortha ó Bheith im' Aonar im' Luí / Clancy Unknown #57 
18. Sean Moloney - Reels: Splendid Isolation / Johnny's Wedding
19. Garry Walsh - Reels: The Cross Legged Tailor / Under the Tholsel / Eileen Fahy'


  1. Hi Carey, I'm back in Queensland, Australia, teaching college and enjoying my Parks whistles. I've noticed a mildewy smell coming from the mouthpieces recently (yes, it's been raining here quite a lot) and I wonder whether I can scrub up my whistles with dish washing soap or what do you recommend for cleaning and purging the odor? Thanks, and Blessings to you! -- Rev. Heng Sure

    1. Oh sure, dish soap is fine. You can fold up some paper or use a thin cardboard strip - something like a business card or in the old days a matchbook - to wet and soften a little and run it into the wind way to help clean things out after giving it a soak in some hot (from the tap, not boiling) water. A length of string also makes a good swab, if it's a soft cotton type.

      The white whistles I would put in the top rack of the dishwasher without the heat drying cycle. However the black plastic and especially the clear plastic of the Ghost do not take heat well.

      Other things like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill any critters that have lodged in the small cracks out of the reach of the swabs. Stay away from acetone however, that will melt the whistles.