The Séamsur Series (2010-11)

Séamsur I (for bass clarinet)
Séamsur II (for quarter-tone flute)
Séamsur III (for violin and 'cello)
Séamsur IV (for soprano saxophone and stereo fixed media)

The Séamsur Series is a set of works which attempts to examine the incorporation of elements of Irish traditional music into contemporary music, looking specifically at microinterval modality in old Irish traditional music and taking influence from the recordings of the Irish- American uilleann piper Patsy Touhey (1865-1923). 

Séamsur I is influenced heavily by Patsy Tuohey’s recording of the tune The Munster Gimlet wherein certain consistent microintervals appear. There remains little research done into this aspect of early Irish traditional music, but it suffices to say that even if there is no consistent or systemic usage of microintervals found, they are undisputedly present as expressive inflections. The extremely complex ornamentation patterns used in Tuohey’s playing and simple structural devices evident in the tune combine in this work to form a bridge between the traditional and contemporary idioms.

Séamsur II, in particular, is influenced by Touhey's recording of ‘The Poll Ha’penny’ hornpipe and ‘Swallow’s Tail’ reel. Touhey’s ornamentation and variations are examined and elaborated on and, furthermore, the form of the piece as a whole closely mirrors the structure of the recording and the binary basis of most Irish tunes.

The influence of the uilleann pipes themselves as an instrument is apparent throughout the series and in Séamsur III the focus is on the mechanical aspects of the uilleann pipes, particularly its mechanism of tone production and characteristic drone feature.

The last in the series, Séamsur IV, makes use of Touhey’s own recordings in the electronic media as well as continuing earlier exploration of his microtonal inflections.

Past Performances

17.05.13 — Séamsur I, Paul Roe (b. cl.), National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland
18.10.12 — Séamsur IV, Nick Roth (sop. sax.), National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland
09.10.12 — Séamsur IV, Franziska Schroeder (sop. sax.), ISMIR 2012, Porto, Portugal
09.05.12 — Séamsur IV, Franziska Schroeder (sop. sax.), Sounds New Festival, Canterbury, England
23.11.11 — Séamsur II, Carla Rees (quartertone fl.), Shoreditch Church, London, England
15.10.11 — Séamsur II, Carla Rees (quartertone fl.), DEREE, Athens, Greece
24.03.11 — Séamsur IV, Franziska Schroeder (sop. sax.), Sonic Arts Research Centre, Belfast, N. Ireland
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