Week #228 ~ Carolan's Concerto

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Surprise! I'm actually posting the winner a bit earlier than usual... but this tune is winning by a pretty good margin!

    This is an O'Carolan tune, Carolan's Concerto. This did have a run as an "Other Tune" three and a half years ago.... here is the link.

    Here's some info on O'Carolan, and Carolan's Concerto:

    Turlough O'Carolan was born in Nobber in Co Meath in 1670 and is regarded as one of the finest composers and harpists that Ireland has ever produced. Dr. Douglas Hyde in his literary history of Ireland stated:

    "Although many distinguished harpers flourished during the first quarter of the 18th century, yet Turlough O'Carolan stands pre-eminently as the representative Irish musician of that period."

    Seán O'Riada was primarily responsible for reviving the music of O'Carolan, as his solo recordings and recordings with Ceoltóirí Chualann testify. 'O'Carolan's Concerto' was recorded on the disc 'Ceol na Nuasal' (The Music of the Nobility).

    The story behind 'O'Carolan's Concerto' is an interesting one. It is said that it was a response to a compositional challenge by Francesco Geminiani, the Italian violinist and composer, during his visit to Dublin.

    Many of O'Carolan's compositions are still performed by Irish musicians, such as Planxty, The Chieftains and The Dubliners. Derek Bell, who was a musician with The Chieftains and the first to record two albums of O'Carolan's music, commented on this piece:

    "'Carolan's Concerto' could be described as a two-part bouree. It isn't a concerto. You could call it his symphony or concerto if several musicians are sounding together in it."

    If you want to really get into O'Carolan, here's the link....

    Here is some abc for the tune:

    X: 71
    T:O'Carolan's Concerto
    % Nottingham Music Database
    S:O'Neil's, via EF
    (3A/2B/2c/2|"D"dd/2d/2 "G"dc/2B/2|"D"A/2B/2G/2A/2 FA|"A7"EA "D"DA|\
    "G"B/2c/2d/2e/2 "A7"d/2c/2B/2A/2|
    "D"da f/2g/2a/2f/2|"A"e/2f/2g/2e/2 "D"f/2g/2a/2f/2|\
    "G"g/2a/2b/2g/2 "D"f/2d/2f/2a/2|"Em"g/2f/2e/2d/2 "A"d/2c/2B/2"ab"A/2|
    "G"B/2d/2B/2d/2 g/2B/2g/2B/2|"D"A/2d/2A/2d/2 f/2A/2f/2A/2|\
    "G"G/2B/2G/2B/2 "E7"e/2f/2e/2d/2|"A7"c"g"B/2c/2 "f#"A"e"G|
    "D"F/2G/2A/2F/2 "A7/e"E/2F/2G/2E/2|"D/f+"F/2G/2A/2F/2 "G"G/2A/2B/2G/2|\
    "D/a"Ad "A7"f/2e/2d/2c/2|"D"d3:|
    (3A/2B/2c/2|"D"db a/2g/2f/2e/2|"D"da "A"ca|"G"Bg/2B/2 "A7"A/2B/2c/2d/2|\
    "A7"e/2c/2B/2A/2 "D"dd/2f/2|
    "A"e/2d/2c/2B/2 c/2a/2a/2a/2|"G"B/2g/2g/2g/2 "D"A/2f/2f/2f/2|\
    "D"e/2d/2c/2B/2 "A7"c/2a/2a/2a/2|"G"B/2g/2g/2g/2 b/2g/2b/2g/2|
    "D"a/2f/2a/2f/2 "Em"e/2d/2c/2B/2|"a"c/2A/2"g"B/2G/2 "f#"A/2F/2"e"G/2E/2|\
    "D"D/2A/2F/2A/2 D/2A/2F/2A/2|"Em"G/2E/2B/2E/2 "A7"G/2E/2B/2E/2|
    "D"F/2A/2d/2c/2 B/2A/2G/2F/2|"Em"E/2F/2G/2A/2 "A7"B/2c/2d/2e/2|\
    "D"Ad "A7"f/2e/2d/2c/2|"D"d3:|

    Here is a link to the tune on thesession.org

    Here are some YouTube videos:

    here's a fun mandolin version:

    Oh, look, I made a video of this in 2009!

  2. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Can I be first, by virtue of the fact I have it posted already on YouTube from back in March. Played on octave mandolin with guitar backing.

  3. Francis J
    Francis J
    Really nice version John, and a cool video as well!
  4. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    John, beautiful, as always!
  5. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    Superb, John. Very nice rubato passages.
  6. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    From a few years ago, here's Carolan's Concerto in the key of G played on a mandola. If I get some time I'll try to do an updated version on the mandolin.

  7. luurtie
    What a nice version David! It's a difficult tune to play without scores or tabs I guess..
    Very well done John and Barbara, it saves a lot of time when you've done this tune already at this high level
    I had a lot of gigs lately and hope to find some time for the saw group the coming weeks.
    I found this very nice version that might be helpfull

  8. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    David, great version, great sounding instruments, very nice tempo.
    I've found a version that tries to imitate a harp in some places. Hope you can hear it:

  9. dustyamps
    Mrs. Power, or Carolan's Concerto
  10. Sasquatch
    Manfred, I absolutely love the looks and tone of your mando. You always play very smooth and very precise too. Great job on this beautiful melody! I will attempt it sometime this week. I thought last weeks tune was tough but this one will looks off the charts.
  11. GKWilson
    All the new and older versions are very enjoyable.
    There's something very familiar about that mandolin player in luurtie's video.
  12. luurtie
    Haha, I looked it up GKWilson, Scott Tichenor is the creator and owner of the Mandolin Cafe.
    Now we know that he's an excellent mandolinplayer! Well done Scott, and thanks for this wonderful website...
    Wonderful playing Manfred and David..
  13. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Impressive early versions from Manfred and Dusty. Already in the repertoire or reading the music? I tried to learn it by heart but drift a little into what I like to call improvisation in the second part. Here it is on my Tom Buchanan tenor Mandola. I like the lower voice for this sort of tune even if it does make the high B a little harder (that's my excuse anyway).

  14. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    Very nice, James. Sounds great on that instrument. As to your question:
    I practiced the Concerto a couple of years ago. Now I went back and practiced it again with the metronome. I ALWAYS read, even if I know a piece by heart. Having the dots in front of me gives me security. If I had only learned and played by ear I would only have a fragment of the repertoire I have today.
    Sasquatch, thanks for the extremely kind words on my playing.
    luurtie, thanks for the praise and for posting that video. With all due respect, I think Mr. Tichenor plays it too fast.
  15. luurtie
    You're right Manfred, this tune should be played slower, but (as a bluegrass lover) I like the jolly way he plays it. You did a great job getting more emotion in the tune. And your right with playing by ear, I can't play this by ear and printed the scores from this website http://tonyupton.tripod.com/carolan.html
    I've been studying for two days now and I still think it's incredible difficult.
    Dusty and James, you too did a wonderful job... amazing. I hope to get something recorded before the end of the week, but I doubt it...
  16. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    The sign of a really great tune - so many excellent and varied versions on offer here, all played in the performer's own way and with his/her choice of instruments, arrangements and tempos.
    Manfred, an interesting point you make about having the music to hand even when you know the music by heart. I too often have the music in front of me, especially at home when I am recording a new-to-me tune, and often I then leave the tune and do not have it in memory. I have to get the music out again to remind me of the tune later.
  17. Marcelyn
    How fun to see a video from Scott. That's one incredible version of Carolan's Concerto.
    David, you have such a great arrangement. It's been my example as is the case with the other O'Carolan compositions I've learned.
    Congrats on being first John and on such a beautiful sounding octave mandolin. Manfred, the chords really add a lot to that version. I do hear the harp-like quality you mentioned. James and Dusty, y'all sure do pick up tunes quickly. And Barbara, I really like the extra hornpipe-like swing you get in your version. Really nice work to everyone.
    Here's my shot at it this week.

  18. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    Lovely, Marcy. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to inject the triplets you play so effortlessly.
  19. luurtie
    Very nice playing Marcelyn, I still wonder how everyone managed to play this complex tune so fast.. I also love that dark tone in your mandolin. What is that mandolin your playing Marcelyn?
  20. Marcelyn
    Thanks Hendrik and Manfred. Hendrik, I did learn this tune a few years before when it showed up in a thread here, but there a few parts I had to relearn. You'll get it. I've had this mandolin from Max and Lauri Girouard for a little over a year now. When I started playing more in a stringband I swapped my oval hole mandolin for this A5 because it cuts through so much better. It's so much fun to play.
  21. Francis J
    Francis J
    This thread has thrown up so many variations of the tune, all so impressive!
  22. luurtie
    Nice playing Francis! That mandolin is perfect for this kind of music...
    I decided to record something today... A lot of struggle with the second part. Here's the result...

  23. Sasquatch
    I commend all of you brothers and sisters in Mando-World. You all seemed to take to playing this melody with such ease. I believe this is the hardest thing I've ever tried to tackle. The style is new to me so I am cutting myself some slack. I do enjoy pushing myself to learn new genres of music. Its a bit rough, especially the B-part. Again, great job to all who submitted this week.

  24. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Well done to everyone who contributed and especially to Sasquatch as you are not familiar with this sort of piece. We stopped playing this one because we could never agree which arrangement to use. I have opted for Deborah Greenblatt's for first mandolin with Garside's 2nd mandolin
  25. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    And here is both parts of Deborah Greenblatt's arrangement
  26. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Finally, all three pats together.
  27. laura809
    Here's my basic version with an irealBook backing track.
  28. luurtie
    You pulled it of Maudlin... nice one..
    Well done Laura, even the second part very fluidly.. It's exact the version I practised. Respect! When I get that second part right I make a new recording!
  29. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Marcelyn, I thought that was a stuffed dog till close to the end, when she suddenly had an itch she couldn't ignore!!!
  30. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    I uploaded an earlier recording of this tune a few years ago when it was an "Other Tune", but I have just made a fresh recording, this time as a duet on my Ajr with the Mid-Mo octave mandolin. The OM plays rhythm to start with and goes into unison the last time around.

    This version is slightly different from how it's usually played, with decorations and chord progression that I've pinched from the exceptional version played by Fairport Convention in 1970 as the final piece in their mandolin extravaganza "Flatback Caper". Their version is on Youtube here, with Carolan's Concerto starting at 2:25 minutes.

    My recording is rather slower than Fairport's:

  31. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    Nicely done Martin. I'm running a bit late on this one. I tried it on the mandolin but I still think it sounds better at a lower pitch so I played it on my Sobell octave mandolin. It's the same arrangement as my mandola version only this time in the key of D.

  32. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Here's my contribution. I've known this tune for many years (and you'd think I'd play it with fewer mistakes).

  33. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    I have previously uploaded another video of this tune, based on Dave Swarbrick's arrangement. This new recording uses a different harmony part by Robin Garside, from:


    or mandolin tabs:


    I have played both mandolin parts on my Mid-Missouri M-0W mandolin, with rhythm accompaniment on Vintage Viaten tenor guitar.


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