Mandolinist Butch Baldassari has partnered with guitarist John Mock to release a CD of Irish harp music. The CD is composed entirely of tunes written by Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan who lived from 1670-1737. The CD is appropriately titled Music of O’Carolan, and contains 10 tracks which comprise 20 of O’Carolan’s works.
I talked to Butch about the CD and asked him what had inspired him to undertake such a recording.
I’ve always been a Large Fan of O’Carolan’s music, going back to the 70’s when i first heard Morgan Magan on a Bill Spence Hammered Dulcimer cd.After John Mock finshed his 2nd Dixie Chicks tour he was setting up his new home studio and i suggested we do an O’Carolan cd…..John knows ALOT about Irish Music, i really don’t but the concept,material and the idea of the two of us working together just had a good feeling about it from the start. Unfortunately John did another tour with the DC’s and also got busy with his studio, so it took us 3 years of real on+off recording to put down these tracks.
Bluegrass fans well know that the roots of our music run deep into traditional tunes from the Scotch/Irish tradition, but I asked Butch what it was like to adapt these harp tunes for mandolin and guitar.
All that was left of O’Carolan’s music was a book of his Complete Works, which is comprised of the melody ONLY….no chords or accompaniment of any kind. So for mandolin and penny whistle it was pretty easy to play/arrange etc. John says that i selected the tunes and then I let John figure out what chords to use on guitar and pretty much arrange the cd.
Butch goes on to tell me that O’Carolan’s music would best be described as a Folky form of Classical or Chamber music, but that the arrangements and style he and John chose for this recording sound much like the Irish music you’d hear nowadays.
Music of O’Carolan is available for pre-order now from Butch’s website SoundArtRecordings.com with product expected by May 15th (orders will ship when the product is available). You can also listen to mp3 samples of 3 tracks from the CD on that page.