Niall Toner and Grand Theft Auto IV

Niall TonerIn today’s changing music market, artists, songwriters and producers are all looking for new revenue streams as established ones diminish or dry up. One venue that may not pop up for most bluegrass musicians is the thriving video game market, but that is just where popular Irish grasser Niall Toner finds one of his tunes featured.

His tune, Nuns Island Reel, is included in the audio track for the new edition of the Grand Theft Auto franchise (Grand Theft Auto IV), which has been setting sales records since its release in April.

Niall gives us the run down on how this came to be…

Grand Theft Auto IV“I composed the tune in the normal course of my song-writing and tune-composing, and it was recorded in a demo session at Paul Ashe-Browne’s studio in Dublin’s Canal Street in the mid 90s. On that day we recorded four tunes, The Belles Of Aer Rianta, Dodder Valley Waltz, Elancyl’s Hornpipe and Nuns Island Reel. [So-called because my Dad was born and raised on Nuns Island in Galway City]

These tunes are all part of my Publishing deal with Bardis Music in Dublin, and my Publisher, Peter Bardon, would have been ‘pitching’ this material, and my other country and bluegrass songs, to producers, artists and other publishing houses around the world. Several of my songs have been recorded in the past 15 years or so, most notably, from a bluegrass perspective, There’s A Better Way by the Nashville Bluegrass Band, and Josie’s Reel by Special Consensus – plus Mood Swing by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, and Working On Love by Albert Lee.

In early 2000, Peter did a sub-publishing deal for about 40 of my compositions with Crucial Music in Los Angeles, a Company run by Tanvi Patel. Tanvi works with Movie makers and a whole variety of music-using Industries in Silicon Valley. In 2005, Tanvi made a pitch to Rockstar, who were beginning to work on GTA4, and they choose Nuns Island Reel for a scene in an Irish Pub in the game. My piece was re-named A Real Real, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Niall tells us that he has not yet played the game, though he has seen a brief extract of the scene that features his tune.

A Real Real will be included as a bonus track on NTB3, the third all-original CD release from The Niall Toner Band. It is a live version recorded on Niall’s My Roots Freeway Radio show.

The new CD is due for a May 25 release, and will be available on that date in iTunes.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.