Cnuasacht port & cor do'n bpiano. Cuid a dó

Cnuasacht Port agus Cor do’n bPíano : Part 2

Cnuasacht Port agus Cor do’n bPíano / A Collection of Jigs and Reels Arranged for Piano 1 & 2: Piano Arrangements by Carl G. Hardebeck

[tune titles listed below on left]

The two-line interactive music scores presented here are from published arrangements of traditional dance tunes made for piano sometime before or in 1921 by the English-born classical musician and dedicated arranger of Irish music Carl G. Hardebeck (1869−1945). They were published first in Dublin in two slim volumes by the obscure Crow St firm of Sullivan & Co, presumably in the early 1920s, and were republished and kept in print by the large Dublin specialist music publishers Pigott & Co of Grafton St. Facsimiles of the two published collections are available here.

The 53 dance tunes of the volumes comprise, in Hardebeck’s classification,  jigs and reels in a ratio of about 2:3, a hornpipe and a ‘fancy dance’. Some of his reels would however nowadays be regarded as hornpipes or set dances. His main sources were fiddlers − Sean O’Gorman of Co Galway, Treasa Halpin of Limerick, a Mr O’Curran of Co Waterford, and a John Duffy among them – and he tells us that his elaborate arrangements seek to imitate fiddle style, and are meant also to be played with a delicate early harpsichord tone. They are listening pieces, not intended for dancing. An indirect source, through O’Curran, was the Co Waterford fiddle player and Irish music theorist Fr Richard Henebry. O’Gorman had been taught by a Co Clare fiddle master and dance teacher, Lynch, and Hardebeck recommends the slow pace of his performances.

It seems clear that Hardebeck, in contrast to 19th-century arrangers of Irish music, adheres conscientiously to the tune versions and performance practice of his source musicians. He takes scrupulous care with the reproduction of traditional rhythms, for example, by making extensive use of crotchet-and-quaver triplets to represent the elusive traditional reel rhythm, and also faithfully reports a sharpened fourth interval where it occurs, in situations where a standard fourth would be preferred in standard usage today. He thus regularly specifies the Fah mode (which has now virtually disappeared from the tradition) for tunes that incorporate this phenomenon, which is amply attested in early sound recordings.

NC, TH & JS, 12 March 2015

Tunes in this collection