Composition

While I was still just starting out as a musician, I was lucky to have played with both Bartley O’Donnell in Senan’s Haggart, and Peter Daffy with whom I formed the Funky String Band.

I still consider Bartley to be one of the best tune writers I have come across and there is something distinct about his sense of melody that I identify with very strongly.

Peter always championed original and new music. When I was starting out he not only encouraged me to write and keep writing, but also gave me a platform with the Funky String Band for my tunes to get played and recorded.

After I joined Shooglenifty, this was taken to a whole new level. Being immersed in the traditional melody form with all the music in Edinburgh, has been a fun discipline to write in.

A few years back though, Shooglenifty's banjo player Garry suggested I have a go at arranging some of the melodies I had written at the time for more of an ensemble group. I had never even considered it but converted one tune into a (still not quite finished…) piece for orchestra. After that I had a go at a piece for string orchestra and one for string quartet and then began a large work for three duos.

This suite was a contribution to the Ten Titles Project and after two years of gestation it got recorded in October 2009. I initially wrote it for two violins, two mandolins and two percussion. My idea was to limit myself to four melodic/harmonic instruments – all of which played in exactly the same range. For the recording though Khaled Arman suggested instead of a mandolin he could play the Afghani Rubab – a suggestion for which I will be eternally grateful!

It was the first big composition project I have tried but I certainly hope it won’t be the last, I had a ball!