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Finbar Furey

Finbar Furey: Traditional Irish Pipe Music

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  • Traditional Irish Pipe Music
    • 1969 - Transatlantic XTRA 1077 LP
    • 1974- Transatlantic: TRANS 201029 LP — (German reissue)
  • Irish Pipes of Finbar Furey
    • 1972 - Nonesuch: H 72048 LP — (USA reissue)
    • 1998 - Warner 10734 CD — (Japanese reissue)
  • Side One
    1. Rakish Paddy
    2. The Hag with the Money
    3. Castle Terrace
    4. Madame Bonaparte
    5. The Young Girl Milking Her Cow
    6. Fin's Favourite
  • Side Two
    1. Peter Byrne's Fancy
    2. O'Rourke's Reel
    3. Roy's Hands
    4. Planxty Davy
    5. The Bonny Bunch of Roses
    6. Eddie's Fancy
    7. The Silver Spear

  • Musicians
    • Finbar Furey: Irish Pipes and Whistle
    • with Eddy [ sic] Furey: Guitar
  • Credits
    • Transatlantic release
      • Produced by Bill Leader
      • Recorded at Livingston Studios
      • Sleeve: Brian Shuel
    • Nonesuch release
      • Produced by Transatlantic Records Limited, London
      • Coordinator: Teresa Sterne
      • Art director: Robert L. Heimall
      • Cover art: Bob Pepper
      • Cover design: Jo Ann Gruber
      • 1972 by Nonesuch Records, 15 Columbus Circle, New York, N.Y. 10023

Sleeve Notes — from the Transatlantic release

Traditional Irish pipe music
Finbar Furey is the youngest member of a very small body of musicians who are masters of the Irish pipes, a complex instrument that has developed over the centuries into the most sophisticated form of bagpipes.

The Irish pipes — also called union pipes or uillean (shoulder) pipes — are mouth blown [sic] and have three sound sources: a chanter plays the tune and a set of drones play continuous notes, but unlike other pipes, the Irish pipes have a set of 'regulators' which will play harmony. Finbar frequently uses these percussively when he plays dance tunes.

On his previous record with his brother Eddie, Finbar established that he was a virtuoso instrumentalist. On this solo record he plays traditional tunes and tunes of his own composition on the Irish pipes and on a variety of whistles.


Sleeve Notes — from the Nonesuch release

The Fureys are a musical family. Finbar's father, Ted, is a well-known fiddler who for many years played in that center of Dublin music, O'Donahue's Bar in Merrion Row. Finbar's arrival in Britain was preceded by his reputation as the youngest player ever to spellbind an audience. The pipes have always been considered an instrument to be mastered only in maturity. Possibly Finbar will be a great piper at the end of twenty-one years' playing, but certainly he was already a staggeringly good piper after just twenty-one years of living.


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Rakish Paddy (pipes). The Irish have a flare for intriguing titles, and the same tune may be known by several different titles in different parts of the country. The inclusion of a tune of the few printed collections of dance music, or its appearance on a popular phonograph record, frequently universalizes a title, and the local variants might then fall out of use. Rakish Paddy is a reel which Francis O'Neill, a Chicago police chief, included in his Dance Music of Ireland — one of the few books that traditional fiddle players respect, even though not many are able to read the music. O'Neill's book is still in print, and its 1,001 tunes would prove a useful source of repertory to students of Irish music. The intricacies of the reel fascinate Irish instrumentalists. Although the 4/4 time signature of the reel is less complex than some Irish dance rhythms, a player is judged by his reel playing.

The Hag With the Money (pipes). Like reels, jigs are step-dances. Whereas reels are in common time, jigs are in compound time — 68, 9/8, or 12/8. The Hag With the Money, another s noted by O'Neill, is in 6/8 time.

Castle Terrace (whistle.) Whistles and transverse flutes are favorite instruments in Irish music. (The recorder, on the other hand, does not appeal to the traditional musician.) Both instruments are traditionally played without "tonguing" the notes, as conventional players would do. The castle of the title is the splendid one at Edinburgh, a city in which Finbar has spent much of his time recently. The form of his little composition is a freely played melody reminiscent of a traditional Irish ballad ! which he alternates with a version of the same tune in jig . Some scholars suggest that most of the Irish dance-tunes o rhythmical versions of ballad airs, and this item makes the at seem plausible.

Madams Bonaparte (pipes, guitar). This is one of the thirty-odd set-dances in the Irish repertory. Set-dances are in hornpipe or jig time -this one is a hornpipe — and differ from the usual form in that some of the phrases of the tune are longer, and that there is a specific dance for each of the tunes. A hornpipe is a step-dance in 4/4 time, played slower than a reel.

The Young Girl Milking Her Cow (pipes). As the Irish language died, those native-language ballads that did not survive translation, were not collected by scholars, or were not known in the few remaining Irish-speaking areas died too, leaving only their tunes as memorials. This tune appears to be one of these. Unlike dance-tune titles, the title of a ballad air is usually a good indication of the subject of the piece, although generations of oppression led to the use of a certain amount of deceptive imagery. There is, for example, one type of song, the aisling, where the figure of a young woman is used to personify Ireland. There is another, less literary, convention where reference to cows and cows' horns are metaphors for illicit whiskey stills. The combination of the two conventions in this title, while offering intriguing possibilities, points to the song being, in fact, of the straightforward romantic sort.

Fin's Favourite (whistle). Two Irish musicians discussing what they will play together are less likely to use titles than to say "First we'll play the one that goes tum-tum-tiddle-tum and then we'll go into the one that goes tiddle-tiddle-tum-tum." Traditional music Hs essentially part of a non-literate culture where words and tunes are not seen but heard (or mis-heard), and the need to classify songs and tunes does riot arise; it is a convention imposed from outside by collectors and publishers. So in the case of this reel, Finbar Furey has put his own title to it, in fact his own name.

Peter Byrne's Fancy (pipes). Finbar has named this jig after the person from whom he learned it.

O'Rourke's Reel (whistle). The whistle Finbar plays on this record has a cylindrical bore, a type more favored these days than the old-fashioned and now uncommon conical-bore whistle in which the mouthpiece is( at the wide end and the pipe tapers to a narrow opening. Most conical-bored wind instruments, of course, taper the other way — narrow at the blown end, broadening out along its length.

Roy's Hands (double-tracked pipes, guitar). Another of Finbar's compositions, dedicated to Roy Williamson, a member of The Corries folk group and one of the most respected folk entertainers in Scotland.

Planxty Davy (pipes). A set-dance in hornpipe rhythm. The hornpipe has a slower tempo than a reel, and a set-dance is usually danced slower than a hornpipe. However, Irish music is as often played for listening as for dancing, and musicians usually choose to play at a faster speed if dancers are not involved.

The Bonny Bunch of Roses (whistle). A ballad air. The ballad itself is one of several about Napoleon. It purports to be a conversation between Napoleon's son and his mother. It treats Bonaparte's defeat with sympathy and, for an Irish song, is surprisingly well inclined towards the English:

Now son be not too venturesome
For England is the heart of oak,
And England, Ireland, Scotland,
Their unity shall ne'er be broke.

The bonny bunch of roses is thought by some to refer to the English redcoats.

Eddy's Fancy (pipes). A hornpipe for which Finbar's brother Eddy gets title honors.

The Silver Spear (pipes). A reel that was very popular among Irish musicians in London about ten years ago. Tunes rise and fall in popularity among musicians, and sometimes a good tune will suffer an eclipse as a reaction to having been too popular for a period. Dance rhythms have their vogue too. In earlier decades of the century, more polkas and waltzes were played than now, and although one might consider such dances foreign to Irish culture, where did the jig, reel, and hornpipe come from in the first place? Nobody knows for sure, but they certainly didn't spring spontaneously from out the bogs of Ireland.

BILL LEADER