John's Bolt Hole

A victory for Celtic (music)?

A victory for Celtic (music)?

If you have been across to My Music pages, you will appreciate that technology has the power to mask deficiencies in musical ability :)  Elsewhere, I’ve written a bit about my musical provenance, which, lacking any formal background in music theory, and largely based on a shaky knowledge of three and a bit chords, has enabled me to create a few instrumental pieces that sound moderately acceptable to me, but then I’m the composer – what did you expect me to say?!  I often question what I’ve done, relative to what I would like to have done; two quite different things.  The trouble is that I’m not entirely sure what it is I would have liked to have done.  It always sounds a bit pretentious to me to talk about musical roots; I’m not sure I have any, but I have numerous musical influences.  Most of these are very guitar-centric, with a leaning towards folky, country, jazzy genres.  Nevertheless there was always room for some of the wilder and heavier bands, in the right circumstances.  Perhaps, as a guitar player, my biggest influence has been Mark Knopfler.  I can distinctly remember hearing ‘Sultans of Swing’ for the first time, in his Dire Straits days; guitar playing was never the same again.

I’ve continued to follow Mark Knopfler in his post-Dire Straits career, and usually manage to get along to his concerts when they reach London.  I’m tempted to classify him these days as a folk musician, albeit with a heavy-duty and accomplished band, as a lot of his material relies on Celtic influences, and he regularly uses Celtic musicians.

When I stumbled on the series of ‘Transatlantic Sessions’ on BBC4 (and now on DVD), I found myself quite captivated.  The ‘sessions’ are a gathering of Irish, Scottish and US singers/musicians brought together in a large country house in Scotland, with the sole purpose of making music together.  It’s quite magical; firstly, the music is basically Celtic, but not exclusively so; secondly, it brings together an eclectic mix of musicians; and thirdly, everyone seems to just have enormous fun.  And amongst the musicians are a fair number of the guys that play with Mark Knopfler!

So, am I falling under the influence of Celtic music?  I didn’t really think so, but then, when a couple of days into my stint as a ‘GamesMaker’ at the London Olympics I found myself helping the BT Team in the Wembley Stadium Press Centre and discovering that my patching and testing mentor, Sinead, was a singer and harpist in a group called Rún who arrange and perform a wide range of Celtic music.  Rún are well worth a listen – you may not understand a word they sing, but the melodies and harmonies are excellent.  I now feel trapped, to be sure :)

Leave a Reply