Compositions by Dan Gurney

277025 dan gurney
Dan Gurney / Danny Diamond

It's a great honor to be asked to compose new tunes by the Irish Traditional Music Archive. To be honest it's something I wouldn't have done without the push and now that I've gotten into it, I have to say I've really enjoyed the process. Some people have tunes arrive in their head unexpectedly, or occur to them while out for a walk in the woods, but for me I have to formally sit down and say "I will try to write a tune now." I found that at first the ideas were generally weak but as I got into a habit, things got easier. Needless to say most of the tunes I wrote for this project ended up on the cutting room floor but I selected these five as hopefully the best of the bunch. Whether they are good or bad I will leave up to the listener!

Dan Gurney, May 2022

Compositions

  1. Buck Mulligan's hornpipe [comp. Dan Gurney]
  2. The dripping faucet [comp. Dan Gurney], jig
  3. York Road [comp. Dan Gurney], jig
  4. The princess' cry [comp. Dan Gurney], reel
  5. Kamala Harris' fancy [comp. Dan Gurney], reel

Watch: Video playlist of Dan performing his own compositions

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Learn: Interactive scores of Dan Gurney's compositions, with playback, ABC notation and more (see user guide for details).

Read: Transcriptions of Dan Gurney compositions


Buck Mulligan's hornpipe [comp. Dan Gurney]

I picked names by using the first thing that came into my head as soon as a tune was "done." In this case it was Buck Mulligan's Pub, where just before we had a great day (and night) of music with Gary Hastings, Conor Healy, Grainne Egan, Iarla O Domhnaill, Natalie Ni Chasaide, Maitiu O Casaide, Leonora Lyne, and of course my wife Christina Dolphin and daughter Saoirse. For some reason this tune, especially the end of the phrases, reminds me of the playing of Tony MacMahon, and an image of a wine glass on a piano comes into my head.

Learn the tune:

Buck Mulligan's hornpipe [comp. Dan Gurney] [played slowly] / Dan Gurney, accordion

Interactive score
PDF Notation


The dripping faucet [comp. Dan Gurney], jig ; York Road [comp. Dan Gurney], jig

When composing the first tune I started with a few notes that are common to some other tunes and went off in a different direction. One of the most interesting challenges I found while composing is finding the balance between being "different" and "the same" compared to other existing tunes. York Road commemorates our current spot in Dun Laoghaire where there is a nice view of the sea past the end of the road.

Learn the tunes:

The dripping faucet [comp. Dan Gurney], jig

Interactive Score
PDF Notation

The dripping faucet [comp. Dan Gurney], jig [played slowly] / Dan Gurney, accordion

York Road [comp. Dan Gurney], jig

Interactive Score
PDF Notation

York Road [comp. Dan Gurney], jig [played slowly] / Dan Gurney, accordion


The princess's cry [comp. Dan Gurney], reel ; Kamala Harris's fancy [comp. Dan Gurney], reel

As I was composing the first tune, my few-month-old daughter Saoirse began expressing her displeasure. I have quickly learned that when the princess starts to cry, it's time to drop everything. Luckily I finished out the last few notes of the second part and the tune was ready in time. The second tune came to me in a C#/D style even though I am a B/C player. Some people find this an inspiring tune and others quite the opposite... I will leave the interpretation completely up to you.

Learn the tunes:

The princess's cry [comp. Dan Gurney], reel

Interactive Score
PDF Notation

The princess's cry [comp. Dan Gurney], reel [played slowly] / Dan Gurney, accordion

Kamala Harris's fancy [comp. Dan Gurney], reel

Interactive Score
PDF Notation

Kamala Harris's fancy [comp. Dan Gurney], reel [played slowly] / Dan Gurney, accordion

Thanks again to ITMA and all of the staff there, especially Adam Girard for his fantastic audio engineering work, Treasa Harkin for organizing this series and Liam O'Connor for inviting me to participate. It was a pleasure to try something new and I hope you enjoy the tunes.


About Dan Gurney

Dan Gurney and friends / Neal Warshaw
Dan Gurney and friends / Neal Warshaw


Dan Gurney, born in upstate New York to artist parents, first picked up an accordion by chance in a toy store while Micho Russell was playing close by. He learned Irish music from Galway-born concertina player Father Charlie Coen. After graduating from Harvard University in 2009, he lived in Galway for a year playing with the likes of Dolores Keane, Johnny Ringo McDonagh, Mick Conneely, Ronan O’Flaherty, and Brian Mc Grath. He has appeared on Public Radio International, at the International Accordion Festival, and has won nine medals at various Fleadh Cheoil music competitions. He now lives in Dun Laoghaire with his wife Christina and daughter Saoirse.

Albums:

  • Traditional Irish Music on the Button Accordion (with Brian Mc Grath)
  • Ignorance Is Bliss (with John Blake)
  • Irish Music from the Hudson Valley (with Dylan Foley, Brian Mc Grath, and Alec Finn)
  • The Yanks (with Dylan Foley, Isaac Alderson, and Sean Earnest)
  • Haymaker (with Dylan Foley, Isaac Alderson, and Sean Earnest)

See also https://dangurney.net/music


Presented May 2022 by Treasa Harkin, with thanks to Dan Gurney and Adam Girard