Land of Dreams
'Once upon a time there was a land where no one was in a hurry. People there liked to listen to slow music. Sometimes they listened to music so slow it did not seem to have any beat at all. It took many years to learn to play slow music. Students did not mind because they had all the time in the world. And so they threw themselves into perfecting their art, knowing that their efforts would be rewarded by the King and they would have a worthy livelihood. Armies invaded and conquered this land. The king was defeated. With no one to support the musicians, slow music died. Factories opened and people got very busy and soon forgot all about slow music. Today that land is called "the Land of Dreams." When I listen to this music, I see two young girls with an old Indian man under a tent. One is playing the harp, the other is singing. The man is gazing at them both with total and utter amazement. A butterfly comes and lands on the girl playing the harp. There is cold water still on their feet from the waterfall and the adjoining lake. They are at peace with themselves for they do not know of televisions or radios. All they know is how to be young and to be free. This old man has taught them everything they know. He lies back and closes his eyes. This moment will last forever in their minds and in their eyes.' Nóirín Ní Thuama, Scoil Mhuire, Ballincollig, Co. Cork Some say that land is called Ancient Ireland. The Masters of music there were the Harp players and the singers. They called their slow music Sean Nos, which meant "The Old Way." You can still hear echoes of their music in "Trad" (Traditional Irish music-Jigs, reels and hornpipes). Something of their melodic patterns remains in this dance music. Some say that land was called India. The Masters were the Sitar players and the singers. The ragas of North India had a part called Alap which was played without a beat. A tune began with the sitar or other lead instrument playing without a fixed rhythm. Only after an hour or sodid the Tabla (drum) join in while the tune continued in a fixed rhythm. Almost nothing remains of this musical system today. Melody and Rhythm, Sitar and Tabla, all gone; a lost art. Recorded in Cork and Kolkata (Calcutta), this CD is a tribute to the musicians of olden times and their music. Fine musicians from both traditions present their music in a way which, hopefully, is attractive to people today. We made an effort to remain true to both traditions. No electrical or electronic musical instruments or samples were used. We did not use any rhythm instrument. A raga is a melodic pattern. A Western scale restricts the musician to certain notes. A raga is a scale, with further restrictions. A note within the scale might be restricted depending on the note you just played and if your intended note is higher or lower on the scale. So one learns a pattern for ascending and for descending. A "main note" is to be played more frequently than other notes in that scale. Then there is the "secondary note." Sometimes one particular note is to be used very sparingly. The musician learns all the restrictionsand within this framework is free to improvise. In olden times, learning, playing and listening to a particular raga was restricted to the particular time of day it was felt that raga suited. If you wanted to learn the Midnight raga Dharbari you had to show up at the teachers place at midnight.