Martin Hayes

Dftw Martin Hayes Direct To Camera
I consider the idea of an archive, a very important one, when it comes to this music.
Martin Hayes, 2020

The Hidden Beauty in Our Archives

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, internationally acclaimed fiddle player Martin Hayes has been availing of remote access to ITMA Collections. The result is a specially recorded video The Hidden Beauty of Archives where Martin distils and documents his thoughts on the value of archives and the rich musical insight to be gained from listening and engaging thoughtfully with archival recordings. 

On 21 October 2020 ITMA premiered his video and hosted a live interactive forum. With tunes played and questions answered from around the world, Martin truly 'engaged with archival material to inspire new art.'

Drawing on his own experience of collecting and tape recording at parties and gatherings in his own home, Martin vividly explains how this became his 'go to thing' to learn local tunes with variances and playing interpretation that were not common. 

Martin is delighted that similar recordings of these musicians from other sources are freely available in ITMA:

which means that the same Well that I was going to when I was learning to play, and when I was getting my sense of this music is now freely available to everybody, which is great
Martin Hayes, 2020
Martin Hayes 852 Ph
P.J. Hayes, Martin Hayes, Brendan McGlinchey & Randal Bays, Willie Clancy Summer School, 1993: Image: Tony Kearns

He advises those who wish to learn from another musician, including from him, to research and seek out who they may have listened to. 

Eventually you'll find that you can work your way back through like a chain link ... to various influences that would have driven this ... all the way back to old 78 recordings of different flute players, fiddle players. So the the Archive is very important from that point of view
Martin Hayes, 2020
Martin Rochford Junior Crehan
Martin Rochford and Junior Crehan. Image: Peter Laban

In the presentation we listen along with Martin to archival recordings of Junior Crehan, Martin Rochford and John Naughton. Listeners are asked to go beyond any sense of 'rough or raw' to find a way of appreciating 'a deeper world of feeling and expression' in their playing. 

Martin has been drawn to the Japanese concept of wabi sabi to overcome what he sees as a deficit in language within traditonal music to fully express the inherent value that lies within their playing. It offers

a language that identifies things that have a natural quality, a warm quality, the quality of imperfection, truthfulness, and honesty.
Itma8765  John Naughton
John Naughton. Image: Christy McNamara

The video is shown as part of a live ITMA online interactive forum with Martin Hayes hosted by ITMA Director Liam O'Connor on 21 October 2020. During the hour Martin will take questions and comments from the live audience as well as play his own version of tunes sources from archival recordings.

For more information on Martin, his recordings, online events and classes visit