Ancient and historical Scottish and Irish harp music, played on a beautiful replica medieval harp.
The core of my music is the historical harp repertory of Scotland and Ireland, played on the clarsach. This early Gaelic harp music played from medieval times to the eighteenth century was embedded in aristocratic Gaelic culture, and was transmitted and performed in an oral tradition.
I am constantly researching the lost repertory of this high status tradition. It includes family salutes, delicate airs, music to commemorate battles or to be played in church, and extensive formal compositions for patrons. The repertory has links and parallels with other Scottish and Irish musical traditions such as sean nós singing, early pibroch, and eighteenth century fiddle music, as well as with English and continental baroque music.
My instrument is key to the sound of my music. My main harp is a replica of the medieval Queen Mary clarsach held in the National Museum in Edinburgh. Not only is it a beautifully decorated object, but it is strung according to historical practice with brass, silver, and gold strings. This gives it a rich and resonant sound different to that of other harps.
More widely, I am interested in genres related to Gaelic harp music, such as bagpipe ceol mor, early fiddle music, historical Welsh harp, Gaelic singing, and the lyre. Because of my fundamental interest in ancient oral tradition music, I look at the arts of memorisation and improvisation, and rediscovering the lost pre-modern styles and idioms of Northern Europe. I am particularly interested in the connections between vocal music, poetry, and plucked stringed instrumental music.
Simon Chadwick, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Return to Index page.
Last updated May 2011