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THE SOUND OF IONA

The multi hued Sound of Iona, between the islands of Mull and Iona, is only one of the many bodies of water we cross to glean our Celtic musical bouquet: the Irish and North Seas, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean. The group IONA presents the multi hued Sound...

The complete lyrics may be viewed here.

1. Fosgail An Daras Dhan Tàilleir Fhidhleir (Open the Door for the Fiddling Tailor)/Old Wife of the Mill Dust (Scotland)4:11

We open--and close--this set with puirt-a-beul, or mouth music, a song in Gaelic from the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland. The words of puirt-a-beul are composed to dance tunes, and are often simply mnemonics for the tunes—in this case exhortations to open the door, and bring goat's milk for the king's son-in-law, who is the fiddling tailor, or tailoring fiddler... The 6 part jig, which Bob sandwiches in between, has an equally irrelevant name.. lyrics

2. Bonnie Charlie/Song of the Travelling Beggars (Arrane Ny Jinnyn)/Ina MacKenzie/Walking the Floor (Scotland, Isle of Man) 6:14

We play Bonnie Charlie as a hornpipe, and follow it with a Manx song in 3 part vocal harmony. It describes the trials and tribulations of a poor farm hand whose master wakes him up at the crack of dawn to feed a bunch of shiftless itinerants. Bob follows with a hornpipe by P/M R. Lawrie and jig by Jack Chisholm on great pipes--just to be sure the poor kid's awake. lyrics

3. Y Gwcw Fach (the Little Cuckoo)/Nyth y Gôg (Cuckoo's Nest) (Wales) 3:14

The song, an interesting example of how Celtic traditions have been transplanted to the New World, was collected from a Welsh American in Utica, NY, who had learned it from her Powys born mother. As with many songs with birds as their subject, Y Gwcw Fach is one in which the singer sends her true love a message. Not to say she's bird brained... Bernard arranged the Welsh hornpipe as a fitting conclusion. lyrics

4. Braigh Loch Iall/Paddy's Green Shamrock Shores (Scotland, Ireland)7:50

Bob launches us from the mists of the Banks of Locheil, an air on the great pipes, into an Irish song of emigration. During the potato famine (1845-51), a million people fled Ireland. Most of them never saw their families again. Departures to America were called "American wakes", and many songs detailing the poignant combination of homesickness and anticipation evolved during this time. Paddy's Green Shamrock Shores is one of the finest, and most upbeat: everyone ends up drinking in New York. And still does...lyrics

5. An Alarc'h/Tri Marghak (Three Knights) (Brittany, Cornwall)5:07

We intersperse the tune of a popular Breton song with a medieval Cornish tragedy. Three knights court a sweet young thing. The one she chooses gets the thumbs down vote from her brother, who promptly decides to kill her. Typical folk song.

6. Sgt. Early's/Bean Pháidín/Frieze Britches (Ireland) 6:25

And here's another one. Pháidín's ex doesn't appreciate being dumped, and lays a nasty curse on the new wife, calling for both her legs to be broken, followed by her death. What is it with these Celts? We play Sgt. Early's jig slowly, working up to that vicious little song, and complete the set with the 5 part jig that Bernard and Bob arranged for the great pipes in the finale. lyrics

7. Brewer's Lament/Queen Among the Heather/The Ale is Dear (Scotland) 4:27

Bob composed this variation on pibroch (a pipe competition thing) as a comment on the reel, The Ale is Dear. Obviously also a comment on Scottish parsimony. The song is a spirited love song: nobody kills anybody! lyrics

8. Cock o' the North/Silver Tip/Monymusk/Sportin' Jamie/Gravel Walk/Congress Reel (Scotland, Ireland) 4:05

Bob and Mary get to strut their stuff. We start off with a Scottish march on small pipes, segué to an Irish jig on harp and flute, whip back to Scotland for a couple of strathspeys on the great pipes, and finish off back in Ireland, with two rousing reels. Quite a frenzied jaunt across the Irish Sea and back and forth and so on.

9. Lark in the Morning, Wild Geese at Night (Words by Loralyn Coles, tune trad. Irish)4:04

When our friend, Loralyn Coles, heard Bernard explain about the Wild Geese, Irish soldiers who had been captured by the British and exiled for life--a tribute to their valor, she wrote these moving words. Many of the exiles became mercenaries in Europe, and legend had it that, when they died on the battlefield, their souls returned to Ireland in the guise of wild geese. Loralyn chose a lovely, obscure variant of the jig Lark in the Morning for her tune. She has kindly allowed us to have our way with her hauntingly beautiful creation, and we trust it will do the same wild goose bump thing to our listeners as it always does to us. lyrics

10. An Dro/Voici le Mois de Mai (the month of May/Laridenn (Sant-Karadeg)(Brittany)4:34

And yet another tribute to a good friend. Nolwenn Monjarret, who performs frequently at the Potomac Celtic Festival (also produced by Barnaby Productions, Inc.), and helps us with Breton songs, taught us Voici le Mois de Mai at the ‘97 Festival. We sang it with her that year, and, in ‘98, she returned to sing it with us--on this recording! The song is kan ha diskan, a call and answer dance tune, arranged so that the singers don't miss a beat. It is one of courtship--by the son of the king of Spain, no less. We get our audiences singing along on the choruses: "I will never be 15 again/I will never have a 20 year old lover again"—how true! Mary contributed the an dro with which we open the set, and the laridenn, following the song, was collected by Nolwenn's father, Polig, in the most comprehensive (and mind boggling) tome we ever did see. In the finale, Bob, on chanter, is answered by Bernard on bombarde, with feeling... lyrics

Total Running Time - 50:50

Credits:
Produced by Bernard Argent, Barbara Ryan and Myron Bretholz
Sound Engineering, Mixing, and Mastering by Scott Shuman & Mike Melchione
Recorded and Mastered at Shuman Recording, Inc., Falls Church, VA 703-237-5677
Original Art Work and Design by Barbara Tresidder Ryan
Art Direction by Steven Parke, WHAT?Design, Baltimore, MD 410-327-9363
Photographs of Iona (with Mark Ryan) by Barbara Ryan
Studio Photography by Irene Young
Liner Notes by Bernard Argent & Barbara Ryan
All tracks traditional except where noted,all arrangements by IONA © 1998, Barnaby Productions, Inc

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Guest Musicians:
Abby Newton, Cello on Paddy's Green Shamrock Shores and Lark in the Morning, Wild Geese at Night
Nolwenn Monjarret, Vocals on Voici le Mois de Mai

With Special Thanks to: Our Families for their support and patience, especially Argus Tresidder, who made this album possible, and Mike Spalding, Roadie Extraordinaire, Cheryl Mitchell, the Barnaby Productions Family, and Barnaby in particular, Friends and Loyal Fans of Iona, and the presenters and radio announcers, especially Mary Cliff, who keep the traditions alive.

Bernard Argent
Flute, Whistles, Doumbek, Vocals

Barbara Tresidder Ryan
Vocals, Guitars, Bouzouki, Bodhrán, Tambourine

Mary Fitzgerald
Harp, vocals

Robert Mitchell
Great Pipes, Shuttle Pipes

IONA: traditional instruments and music; exceptional, nontraditional arrangements.


Copyright © 2017 Barnaby Productions, Inc.

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Page updated July 21, 2012 - Bernard Argent

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