Saothar :: new compositions for the tradition

A monthly series showcasing compositions of tunes by contemporary composers in the traditional idiom.

Saothar Cover

During the lockdowns of 2020 The Rolling Wave radio programme on RTÉ commissioned 10 composers to write tunes to reflect their experiences of the time, in a series called Faoiseamh. Later in the year the presenter and producer of the programme, Aoife Nic Cormaic, approached ITMA to see if the tunes could be revisited in some way. The composers were all asked to send transcriptions, images and slow recordings to ITMA and the first FAOISEAMH project was published in conjunction with another broadcast of the programme.

RTE Radio and Rolling Wave Logos

ITMA's Director, Liam O'Connor, was always conscious of the role composition plays in the tradition, and had already been searching for a way to highlight compositions on the ITMA website. It was decided to continue the Faoiseamh format on a monthly basis for 2021, working with one composer at a time, and thus Saothar // new compositions for the tradition was born.

Over the course of the past year 12 composers have worked with ITMA to publish a selection of their compositions on the website. Each tune, or song, is then presented with a recording of the composer playing the tune as it was written. The tunes also have an interactive score, a transcription and various other learning resources.

Faoiseamh 2 was broadcast on the Rolling Wave with 10 new composers in December 2021, so between Faoiseamh and Saothar over the past 13 months an incredible 139 new compositions have been added to the ITMA website, from 32 different composers.


SAOTHAR composers for 2021:

Seamus Gibson, December 2021 (22 tunes)

Siobhán Peoples, November 2021 (9 tunes)

Jackie Daly, October 2021 (10 tunes)

Hammy Hamilton, September 2021 (6 tunes)

Carmel Gunning, August 2021 (9 tunes)

Mick Mulcahy, July 2021 (11 tunes)

Conal Ó Gráda, June 2021 (8 tunes)

Saileog Ní Cheannabháin, May 2021 (7 tunes)

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, April 2021 (5 tunes, 1 song)

Yvonne Casey, March 2021 (6 tunes)

Zoë Conway, February 2021 (8 tunes, 1 song)

Charlie Lennon, January 2021 (1 tune)

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Saothar composers for engaging in the project and for allowing their compositions to be published on the ITMA website. Working with this material is one of my favourite roles within ITMA, and each month I look forward to the next set of tunes.