Is music folk or traditional? Used as synonyms in the English language, the two adjectives carry a very different meaning in French. By definition, folk is related to the people. In the French language, a pejorative connotation is now commonly understood which explains why musicians rather use the more neutral expression traditional music: Folk music ("musique folklorique") became the expression to categorise a type of unchanged music, like for the museums, whereas traditional music ("musique traditionnelle") is interpreted, arranged within a living society.
Retiring early from a specialised medical career, the Irishman Derek Ball can now devote himself full-time to composition. His repertoire includes solo instruments pieces, chamber music (like his Songs and Stories of Caílte's Time for Celtic harp and speaker, created by Anne-Marie O'Farrell and Séamus mac Gabhan) as well as larger works for symphonic orchestra and operas. Particularly present on the Irish contemporary music scene, his music has been programmed by the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, the Dublin Symphony Orchestra and performed in the United-States. Derek Ball is a composer who does not hesitate to combine the Celtic harp with any kind of other instruments, voice and even computer.
Nothing seems to reconcile Glasgow, the economic capital of Scotland, with Edinburgh, political capital of the country. The two main cities of the Scottish belt stare at, tease and respect each other like porcelain dogs that nothing can bring together. Even the M8 – the motorway between the two cities – increases the differences between them: a logical bypass in Edinburgh, an amputation and stretch of the highway straight into the heart of Glasgow. The tone is set: since the first one prides itself for having an old city classified as World heritage for humanity, the official line for Glasgow will be "the most modern city in Europe" thanks to another – but this one infamous – Robert Bruce1 and his city restructuring plan.
This is the second part of my Master of music dissertation. In this article, I will present the main issues related to the topic of the contemporary repertoire for the Irish harp.
Before getting into the main substance, it is necessary to define some terms. First of all, what is “contemporary music”? Contemporary music is the music composed in the present time, or more broadly in the 20th century, all aesthetics taken together. This matter will lead us to raise musical parameters such as: the melody, the rhythm, the harmony, the tone, the form or the spatialisation.
The dissertation for my Master of music Le Répertoire contemporain de la harpe irlandaise (The Contemporary repertoire for the Irish harp, in French) is available for downloading following the article. Written in 2001-2002, under the supervision of Marie-Claire Mussat, during my studies at the Université de Rennes 2, in Brittany, and University College Cork, in Ireland, this dissertation is based on the contemporary repertoire written and composed for the Irish harp nowadays. The content is divided into two distinct parts. The first part is a methodology work with an annotated bibliography, a questionnaire and a study of contemporary music catalogues. The second part is a development and thoughts on the topic.