Ceol na nGaedheal

Ceol na nGaedheal

Ceol na nGaedheal: Carl Hardebeck’s Arrangements for Tin Whistles

[tune titles listed below on left]

The two-line interactive music scores presented here are from arrangements made for tin whistles by the English-born classical musician and dedicated arranger of Irish music Carl G. Hardebeck (1869−1945; Hardebec in Irish). They were published in 1937 as Ceol na nGaedheal (music of the Irish), a small inexpensive collection suitable for school use, by the Dublin educational publishers Browne & Nolan Ltd (Brún agus Ó Nualláin Teor. in Irish). The scores were added to the site on 10 February 2015, the 70th anniversary of Hardebeck's death on 10 February 1945.

The booklet contains twenty-five popular national airs and dance tunes, and a basic tutorial introduction which views the tin whistle as an easy and cheap means of initiation to playing music for all children. With a view to giving easy access to the reading of music, its melodies are set in the tonic sol-fa notation which had been widely used in Irish primary schools since the 19th century.

The arrangements were produced in Hardebeck’s last years, when he was living in poverty in Dublin, and they may have been commissioned from him as a practical support. Nevertheless they are interesting and original, and he evidently undertook the work seriously. The first line of tonic sol-fa generally carries the melody and the second provides harmony, but occasionally the melody alternates between the two lines.

Given that Hardebeck was blind and unable to proofread, and that the typesetters probably did not read music, there are very few errors in the book’s musical content. It is very likely that items from this book fed into the live tradition, and probable echoes of it can be heard in the repertories of prominent Irish 20th-century musicians. For a facsimile of Ceol na nGaedheal see here.

NC, TH & JS, 10 February 2015

Tunes in this collection