Scott Reiss | The Banshee's Wail: Irish & Medieval Music

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World: Celtic Classical: Medieval Moods: Instrumental
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The Banshee's Wail: Irish & Medieval Music

by Scott Reiss

A passionate fusion of Irish & Medieval music featuring late recorder virtuoso Scott Reiss (recorder & whistles).
Genre: World: Celtic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Banshee's Wail/Trotto
4:31 $0.99
2. Como Poden/Kid on the Mountain
4:54 $0.99
3. Crowley's Reel
2:41 $0.99
4. A Virgen/Jenny's Chickens
7:34 $0.99
5. Kilfenora Jig/Elizabeth Kelly's Favorite
3:40 $0.99
6. The Dear Irish Boy
4:29 $0.99
7. Douce Dame/Toss the Feathers
6:18 $0.99
8. Paddy Rafferty's Favorite
6:31 $0.99
9. Lamento di Tristan/Brian Boru's March/Rota/The Queen's Polka
8:52 $0.99
10. Caoineadh an Spailpin
3:52 $0.99
11. Salterello
2:33 $0.99
12. Ay mi!
5:17 $0.99
13. Langstrom's Pony/Salterello
5:48 $0.99
14. Lucy Farr's
4:59 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Scott Reiss's tour-de-force on recorders and Irish whistle, with the legendary percussionist Glen Velez (frame drums), consummate guitar and bazouki player Zan McLeod, and virtuoso early/traditional string player Tina Chancey (viola da gamba, vielle, kamenj, lyra), with a special guest appearance from Bruce Molsky (fiddle). Scott died in December 2005.

NOTES: Scott Reiss
Where do medieval music and Irish music meet? For me they meet in a timeless place where, to my inner ear, they resonate together like two strings tuned to the same pitch. When we listen to a slow air like The Dear Irish Boy, it takes us out of our time-frame. The tradition that produced it goes back through many ages; melodies like it stirred the feelings of people in many pasts. The images they conjure lie just out of sight, like the cry of an animal in the night.
Likewise, melodies from the Middle Ages reach out to our own time. Tunes from the 14th century like Douce Dame by the remarkably creative cleric, poet, and musician Guillaume de Machaut, can speak to us with a clarity even our own music seldom achieves. In that place beyond time we are within earshot of the bells of Notre Dame cathedral and a pub session in Doolin. If we listen with our mind’s ear we might hear the first Irish monks chanting on the cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland, or the lonely songs of pilgrims making their journey to a holy shrine at the edge of the world on the cliffs in Vigo on the northern coast of Spain. The music draws time and space together in the place where our ear connects with our heart. And this place is where Irish music and medieval music meet.
In this place you can hear the bloodcurdling wail of the banshee, a female spirit who appears when a family member is about to die. Listen on after The Banshee’s Wail and you hear the wild dancing of people trying to escape the Black Death of the plague.
In the 14th century, the time of the Black Death, the tale of Tristan and Isolde was already ancient. Tristan, the legendary warrior from Brittany (a Celtic area in modern France), comes to live with Mark, the king of Cornwall (another Celtic area in modern England). Mark sends Tristan to Ireland to bring back Isolde, the beautiful daughter of Queen Isolde, to be his wife. When Tristan and Isolde mistakenly drink the love potion intended for Mark and Isolde, they fall desperately in love, a love which ends in tragedy. In the end Tristan, thinking Isolde is dead, kills himself, and Isolde, learning of Tristan’s end follows him, taking her own life. The 14th-century Italian Lamento di Tristan (the Lament of Tristan) is the musical rendition of a much older European medieval legend. The story of a Celtic warrior and an Irish princess so captivates the medieval European imagination that it is told and retold for hundreds of years. The powerful images connect ancient Ireland and Europe in legend and music. I pair the Lament of Tristan with the tune named for a legendary hero from Ireland, Brian Boru, who gives his life to save his people. Rota, the fast part of the Lamento, brings to the minds eye one of Tristan’s battles, while the Queen’s Polka could be Brian Boru’s last campaign.
The title of the slow air which follows this medley, Caoineadh an Spailpin means ‘the lament of the migrant worker’. His lament over the plight of migrant farm workers in Ireland, could easily be Tristan’s lament for Isolde or Brian Boru’s people’s lament for their slain warrior.
The music on this CD is intended to highlight the connections between Ireland and medieval Europe that can be seen in history, in legend, and in the imagination. I play all the medieval pieces in Irish style to weave together the sounds of the two traditions in a seamless tapestry. I’ve sometimes chosen the Irish music as much for remarkable performances as for the tunes themselves. The playing of the great piper Willie Clancy or the enigmatic fiddler Tommy Potts inspire me as they have many. I’ve acknowledged the players whose performance inspired me for all the pieces that are not just part of the regular commerce of Irish tunes. The medieval music here consists of pieces I’ve known and played for most of my adult life. They are part of a tradition of playing medieval music that is much younger than the living tradition of Irish music. In a living tradition the music comes from the past through the playing of many generations of musicians, but in a reconstructed style the music is played into a past through our imaginations.

Special Thanks to:
Tina Chancey, my wife and partner, for her creativity, her judgment, her ear, and her unwavering belief; Zan McLeod and Glen Velez for their creativity and their positive and inspiring energy; Marie McCarthy for her faith and inspiration; Carolina Robertson for teaching me ethnomusicology; Bruce Molsky for his support and advice during the early stages of this project; Philippe Varlet for my first lessons in Irish music. And thanks to Niall Keegan and Micheal O’Suilleabhain from the University of Limerick, Hammy Hamilton, Fintan Vallely, John O’Regan, and Nicholas Carolan from the Irish Music Archive in Dublin, for their help in Ireland.

Executive producer: Scott Reiss
Session producer: Bruce Molsky
Post-session producer: Tina Chancey
Cover design: Scott Reiss
Booklet design: Jeff Ruiz
Recording and mixing: Jim Robeson
Recorded: Bias Studios, April 2001

Golden Apple GACD7553
©® 2002 Scott Reiss
3706 N. 17th Street
Arlington, VA 22207



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