Between May and July I was Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Musician-in-Residence. On August 20th the music I composed during this residency will be premiered online in the form of pre-recorded videos. I composed a two movement piece for multiple guitars called 'Dún Laoghaire Guitars'. In advance of this premiere I've prepared Spotify and Youtube playlists of some of my previous compositions, arrangements and collaborations that relate in some way to the music styles found in Dún Laoghaire Guitars. Listening to these playlists will help set your ears up for the new music. Some words about the music on the playlists follows.
1. Collaborations with Ciarán Swift
The 2nd Movement of Dún Laoghaire Guitars features Ciarán Swift and students of his Guitar Training Centre playing with alongside me. Ciarán and I have been friends for 25 years, meeting first whilst studying at the famous 'Rock School' at Senior College Ballyfermot. The playlists feature Ciarán and I playing some Irish trad guitar duets and a trad ensemble piece 'The Tempest in Mali' which we put together with Mick Dunne, Liz Coleman and Conan McDonnell. There's also a couple of tracks from our cross-genre band D.F.F. which feature brilliant guitar solos from Niwel Tsumbu.
2. Polymetric Chamber Music
The 1st movement of Dún Laoghaire Guitars 'Dún Laoghaire Dart' is built upon a technique called Polymetric Cycles that I use sometimes in my compositions. This involves rhythms in different time signatures repeated against each other in cycles. If music theory isn't your thing, then the best way to relate to it is to imagine it is like 4 or 5 different people of different heights walking together. To stay together the people with shorter legs will have to walk faster and use more footsteps. That is kind of how a Polymetric Cycle works in music. It can produce really nice sounds and it's a different way of thinking about rhythm. On the playlists you'll hear these techniques in the piece 'Polymetric Cycles', played by my old college ensemble The Dave Flynn Collective (with Bjorn Bantock conducting). I also use them in the middle of the piece 'Shadowplay', which features flautist Aisling Agnew, who also plays in 'Polymetric Cycles'.
3. Guitar Quartets
Dún Laoghaire Guitars is a piece for 8 guitars, which equals two guitar quartets. I have been a member of two different guitar quartets over the years, The Dublin Guitar Quartet and The Cosmopolitan Guitar Quartet. Several years after I'd left The DGQ they recorded my composition 'Chimurenga', inspired by Zimbabwean music. The Cosmopolitan Guitar Quartet was a group I put together for a few concerts in 2011 with jazz guitarist Hugh Buckley, classical guitarist John Feeley and Congolese guitarist Niwel Tsumbu. We had a great time performing together at the Inishowen and Clonakilty Guitar Festivals. The youtube playlist shows a clip of us playing a composition of Niwel's at Inishowen. This composition is in the 8/8 rumba rhythm that is also used in 'Dún Laoghaire DART'.
4. Solo guitar compositions
Over the past few months I've recorded videos of some of my own compositions and improvisations for guitar. I've included a few of these on the playlist that hint at some of the harmony styles I use in Dún Laoghaire Guitars.
5. Trad guitar arrangements
Dún Laoghaire Guitars is not in any way a trad guitar piece, but there are some subtle influences from Irish trad in it. I've included some of my arrangements of Irish trad like 'Paddy Fahey's Reels', 'Christmas Eve' and the haunting slow air 'Gol na Mbán san ar'.