Ceol Mor : for violin, clarinet and piano
by Charles Bodman Rae (2012)
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There are two kinds of gaelic instrumental music: Ceol Beag, and Ceol Mor. The first refers to the lighter forms, such as dance music (reels, strathspeys and so forth). The second, meaning 'the great music', refers to the more austere yet emotionally expressive medium of the Piobeareachd ('Pibroch' in lowland Scots and English). The Piobeareachd is usually a lament for the departed, with a title such as 'Lament for Duncan MacRae of Kintail'. They are usually solo bagpipe pieces, in the form of theme and variations. But the tradition may have originated on the clarsach (celtic harp). They are also played on the violin. This Piobeareachd is a tribute to the passing of the composer's father, John Rae, who died at the end of November 2011. The tribute acknowledges his Scottish birth, highland heritage, and final resting place at Clachan Duich in Kintail. The work uses an original theme (Urlar) followed by four variations which elaborate and greatly expand the range of the melody. There are some stylistic cues from the bagpipe tradition, such as interlocking lydian and mixolydian modes, and ornamentation of single or multiple grace notes which are crushed in before main notes of the melody. There are drones, of course, but they do not stay on one note or in one key. The intended tone of the work is elegiac rather than funereal.
Instrumentation: Clarinet (in A), piano, violin.
Duration: 10 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to the memory of the composer's father, John Rae (1928-2011)
Commission note: Commissioned for the 2012 Adelaide Festival of Arts
- Influenced by: Gaelic culture
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