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MP3 Carol Walker - Alas! The Horse Is Gone -- Manx Music / Traditional Tunes from the Isle of Man

An album devoted exclusively to traditional music from the Isle of Man -- a mixture of Celtic jigs, ballads, and laments, featuring Appalachian mountain dulcimer, and backed up with Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, whistle, and piano.

11 MP3 Songs in this album (35:18) !
Related styles: Folk: Celtic Folk, Type: Acoustic

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"Carol''s playing is exquisite. I have never heard anyone coax an instrument to open its soul the way I heard her do on the mountain dulcimer. Under the caress of her fingers, it is a living thing that laughs and cries and whispers secrets. One might expect that, if she moved the microphone very close, you could hear it breathing." -- Dewey Parker, "Dewey Dulcimer System"


The Isle of Man is a smallish island (13 miles wide and 33 miles long) located in the middle of the Irish Sea. It is a place of varying and contrasting beauty, with rocky shorelines, mountains, moors, forests, beaches, and castles. Its capital city, Douglas, boasts a four-mile crescent-shaped promenade facing the sea, the entire length of which is filled with guest houses and hotels built during Victorian times to entice wealthy vacationers to its shores to see and be seen. It is still a popular tourist destination, with a temperate year-round climate, and activities to please everyone.

As you might expect, music has always been a part of the Island’s culture. Because of its proximity to the rest of the British Isles, Manx music contains elements drawn from Irish laments, Scottish lullabies, and popular English ballads and dance music. This CD contains a wide variety of traditional Manx tunes, some of which have been arranged and adapted with some unexpected harmonic surprises, but the delightful melodies, along with the underlying Manx spirit and Celtic heritage, are very much intact and shine through, accurately reflecting the music as it has been expressed by the generations before me.

Over the past 200 years or so, several dedicated Manx men and women, in their desire to ensure that their music would not be lost forever, worked their way around the Island, writing down the tunes they collected from the musicians who were performing this delightful music at village dances, pub sessions, holiday gatherings, and other occasions. The resulting publications, one of which first appeared in 1820, with several others following in the 1890’s, became the foundation for modern collectors whose work continues even today.

I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically mention Charles Guard, a lifelong Manx resident whose harp arrangements of Manx tunes (Manx Music for the Irish Harp, published in 1991) became the spark that ignited my own personal desire to learn about the Island, and to find more of these delightful tunes.

According to Charles, “It is a source of constant surprise to people outside the Isle of Man that we possess such a wealth of beautiful and fascinating traditional music.”

It is my fervent hope that this CD will both enlighten and delight listeners far beyond the Isle of Man.


Notes about the tunes:

1. Alas! The Horse Is Gone -- Ta’n Bock, Aboo! Ersooyl
This lively tune is also familiar on the Isle of Man as “All the Forepart of the Night.” The alternate title about the horse appealed to me -- I could just see (and hear) the horse galloping off into the sunset….

2. The Milking Song -- Arrane ben-Vlieaun
Manx farmers have often sung to their cows at milking time, in the belief that relaxed cows give more milk. In this traditional Manx song, the farmer asks for God’s blessings to encourage the cow to give plenty of milk, in return for which the cow will receive plenty of barley.

3. Work & Play Medley
a. Weaving Song -- Arrane ny Fee
As weaving is solitary work, it was likely that the weavers made up songs to help ease the boredom, and to help maintain a steady rhythm while throwing the shuttle through the loom. The chorus asks for God’s blessing on the yarn and cloth and on the garment that will result.
b. Smugglers’ Lullaby (Also titled One Named Click -- Fer dy Clien Click)
Until the mid-1700’s smuggling was a common practice on the Isle of Man. It was not unusual for a husband to return from a “fishing” trip to discover the Excisemen were waiting for him. Meanwhile, his wife, acting as a charming hostess and serving refreshments to the raiders, was all the while singing this seemingly innocent lullaby to her baby in Manx Gaelic. Her English-speaking guests had no idea the lyrics of the song were actually a warning to her husband: “See the Excisemen are coming! They’ll be seeking wine and whisky. Let them search in boat or dwelling, nothing’s in the hold but herring. Sleep my little hero!” This tune, under its alternate title, is also used as a children’s singing game.
c. Gallop, Gallop -- Lhigey, Lhigey -- adapted from an arrangement by Charles Guard, from Manx Music for the Irish Harp - 1991, and used with permission.
This is a play-party song with many verses about young men courting the girls at the fair (or market).

4. Song of the Water Kelpie -- Arrane Ghelbee
There are many songs related to the stories of a water kelpie, but here is one of the stories I especially like, as told to the collector in 1910: An old man with long white hair mysteriously appeared in a rowboat one summer evening, off the rocky western coast, singing a melody which emulated the up-and-down motion of the waves. The people were drawn to the cliffs to listen to him, but could never quite make out the words he was singing. After singing his song, he rowed away into the evening mist until he could no longer be seen or heard. No one ever knew who he was, or where he had come from, but they loved his song and taught it to their children’s children.

5. Manx Music Box -- adapted from Manx Lullaby -- Arrane y Chlean
I bought a lovely little Irish harp in 2005, a few weeks after my mother had died. The sweet sound of this harp reminded me of a music box that used to be on her dresser when I was a kid. Many a night I would wind it up very tightly and then jump into bed to listen to the beautiful melody gradually slowing down as I fell asleep. This poignant arrangement begins with the exquisite Manx Lullaby, which becomes intertwined with memories of my daily childhood activities -- chasing butterflies, roller skating and bike riding, playing hide-and-seek and hopscotch -- and closing with the return of the Lullaby, as the music box https://www.tradebit.com..al…ly……w...i...n.…d……s…...…..d…..…o……...w..………n………….. . . . . . . . . .

6. The Maid of Port y Shee -- Lyrics by W. H. Gill, from the traditional tune “Yn Colbagh Breck” (The Speckled Heifer)
The piano accompaniment is recorded exactly as it appeared in the 1898 edition of The Manx National Song Book. The story spins a tale about Kit and Juan who wish to marry, but who have no money or property. They agree to “tarry” while waiting until the time is right to marry, with their solution leading to a practical moral which becomes timeless advice for everyone. The expression, “Traa dy liooar” at the end of the song is a common saying on the Isle of Man, and means, “Time enough.”

7. When I Was a Little Boy -- Tra va mee my Ghuilley
Here is a lovely introspective tune which tells a story about a man who, when he was young, did not care about important things such as saving money. Now that he’s a family man, he longs to be young again.

8. Washing Song -- Arrane ny Niee
This arrangement is an adaptation of a lullaby collected from a farmer who claimed he had heard “Themselves” (the fairies, or little people, as they are called on the Isle of Man) singing this tune as they washed their babies in the river near his farm.

9. Little Red Bird -- Ushag Veg Ruy
There are many different translations of the lyrics of this charming lullaby, but they all tell the same story of a little bird struggling to find a comfortable place to sleep. After trying many harsh resting places, (“the top of the briar; the top of the bush; the ridge of the roof, and oh, what a wretched sleep!”), he finally tells of his success in finding his rest “between two leaves, as a babe ‘twixt two blankets quite at ease, and oh, what a peaceful sleep!”

10. Jig Medley
a. The Mona’s Isle Quickstep
Mona is a term of endearment often used for the Isle of Man. This lively quickstep reflects the Manx love of dancing!
b. Winding Song
This little ditty is about winding wool. The reference to “the thirty-two” at the end is the total number of beats in the song (two per measure). It is thought that the 32 “winds” was a way of keeping count, thus perhaps enabling the “winder” to figure the total yardage in the finished hank of yarn.
c. Unnamed Jig -- Gyn Ennym!
When this jolly jig was collected, no one could seem to remember if it had a name or not, so it became known as the “No Name” or “Anonymous” Jig.

11. The Goodnight Song -- Arrane Oie Vie
This parting song was typically used at the end of the Christmas Eve service, but is still in use today at the close of any Manx evening gathering.

Liner Notes by Carol Walker


About Carol Walker:
Carol Walker lives in Denville, New Jersey with her professional guitarist husband, Toby Walker. Carol’s formal training includes a degree in Music Education, with majors in piano, harp, and voice. For 32 years Carol was a high school choral teacher, but she is now happily retired, thus finally having the time to pursue all those free-lance performing, composing, arranging, and recording interests that have been patiently simmering on the back burner.

Carol branched out from her formal classical training when she bought her first mountain dulcimer in 1999. This newly found avenue of folk music led her to connect with many other folk musicians, including Wayfarers & Company, an eclectic olde-time folk group based in Stroudsburg, PA. Carol has been active with this group since 2002, adding vocal harmonies, playing dulcimer, upright bass, piano, and harp. The Wayfarers have produced two CD’s.

She is a popular workshop leader at dulcimer festivals, including Pocono Winter DulcimerFest, PA, Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival, CT, Dulcimer Association of Albany, NY, and Cranberry Dulcimer & Autoharp Gathering, NY.

In addition to her own varied musical pursuits, Carol thoroughly enjoys her role as Executive Roadie, touring together with her husband up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and across Canada and Europe.

If you love Manx music, you can find these tunes and about a dozen others in her first book of arrangements for Mountain Dulcimer and other folk instruments, entitled Tailless Tunes -- Manx Music -- Traditional Tunes from the Isle of Man. Contact Carol for ordering information: [email protected]://www.tradebit.com

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