The road ends, but the journey continues...

From the Practice Stool: Mo Giolla Mear (an excerpt)

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

The other day I came off of the practice stool elated.  It was one of those sessions where everything went right.  The tone from my perfectly honed right hand nails emitted a luscious aural tapestry of sound while working through completed scores of my own creation or arrangement.  Fluidity of movement in the left hand during execution of certain passages, coupled with the flow of interpretive playing all within acceptable tempos…this is my dance, this is my place, this is my praise to the Giver of Gifts.
I was particularly pleased to master specific measures in my classical guitar arrangement of the traditional Celtic piece, Mo Giolla Mear. Written during our between homes time, it is part of my Swimming with Swans: the music project.
Yes, there is an entire story behind the discovery of this piece of music and how it relates to our life on the road.  It remains scattered in the bits and nits of my mind, journals and ‘little list’ e-mail updates jotted down at the time.  For some reason the words do not come easily right now.  The challenge remains for me to sit down, focus and craft a vignette to include in my Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes manuscript.
However, while immersed in my music, that challenge is mercifully set aside.
Suffice it to say, this instrumental rendition of Mo Giolla Mear arranged and played by El McMeen served as the inspiration for my own composition.

And then again, the traditional song as sung by Mary Black is the original source material for both our arrangements.
Penned by the 18th century poet Sean Clarach MacDomhnaill, the title translates to: My Gallant Darling. It is in the form of a lament written in honor of Prince Charles Stewart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’), in whom great hopes were placed to take the throne of England, thus forging an end to religious persecution. Instead, the Jacobite rebellion (1745) was put down and hundreds of thousands died in battle under unsurmountable odds. To add insult to injury, this revolutionary prince took flight to the continent after defeat, later dying in exile.

He’s my champion my Gallant Darling,
He’s my Caesar, a Gallant Darling,
I’ve found neither rest nor fortune
Since my Gallant Darling went far away.

The following excerpt is the chorus melody, the basic theme from which variations are peppered throughout much of my arrangement.
I chose this particular piece for demonstration as it is in the public domain, and not subject to copyright laws.  Further, I chose it precisely because it is not one of my original compositions*. Rather, it is an original arrangement I created for classical guitar.
I thought it might be fun to present an excerpt here for those interested in peeking over my shoulder as I use NOTION score software to carry this arrangement through to ‘engraving’ completion.
Mo Giolla Mear excerpt
NOTION Classical Guitar computer generated sound playback of the above excerpt.
The program is limited in scope as it cannot accommodate many of the specialized needs of classical guitar notation. For example, the stems in measure 8 will not align properly.  This is due to the fact that the program does not recognize different rhythms within multiple voicings unless entered into a separate designated voice.  Also, fingerings are only allowed to be notated in certain places, often at quite a distance from the actual note. Don’t worry, that’s about as technical as I’ll go with this.  But I wanted to mention these items as examples of the many technicalities I’ve had to fudge in different ways in order to get some sort of printable score on file."Nothing can reproduce the sonic and emotional power of live performance." Leon Botstein
And of course, the playback sounds are so-so.  But even if the sounds were perfect, nothing computer generated can add the interpretive qualities to a piece of music.
Overall, I’m pleased with the results and with my project progress.
*I’ve mentioned my Goat Suite in other posts, but to put examples from that up on the public internet before it is finished and registered with ASCAP would not be cool.  😎


  1. Brigid Gallagher

    You have a beautiful gift for music. Your arrangement is lovely.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You are so sweet to say that, Brigid.
      It helps to have great material to draw from, for sure.

  2. Jane Chesebrough

    I love the phrase, “This is my dance, this is my place, this is my praise to the giver of gifts.” Listened to Mary Black and was stirred by the sweetness of the voices in harmony. Although I don’t talk the same language of music , I appreciate your sharing a bit of your process as you work on your project and can understand why you don’t share Goat Suite-very important. Want to hear more when the time is right.

    • laura bruno lilly

      So glad the music touched you. Perhaps it has inspired a photo shoot theme?

  3. Donna

    You are very talented. I am not musically inclined, but I can appreciate all the work you must have gone through to be as gifted as you are.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Why thank you, Donna.

  4. David Rastall

    Oh, you’ve touched my soul on this one…Scottish music was the first music I ever heard, and I always feel a deep attraction towards it. That’s such a beautiful song, and your rendition of it is moving. Have you ever thought of taking up the Celtic harp? You would have an excellent touch on it. There’s nothing like those old Scottish ballads to move me to tears every time I hear one. Plus, it’s good to hear Mary Black any time. Thanks for this most moving post.
    David R

    • laura bruno lilly

      I knew you’d ‘get it’. I’m glad the post/music resonated within your soul.
      I think there’s something universally stirring in Celtic music. It touches deep in one’s spirit regardless of an individual’s background.
      About that Celtic Harp…I’m looking into branching out as, like yourself, this musician needs to still make music even as she gets older and becomes not as nimble on her primary instrument (not yet, just sayin’…) So, does it affect a cgers nails in any way? Mine aren’t that long, just shaped in a special way. (I think back in the Lute-list days, we had this discussion)
      When time frees up a bit on my end, I’ll be sending you more info regarding this Celtic piece-progress if you don’t mind.
      Keep on pluckin’!

      • David Rastall

        The short answer to your cg’er nail question is no. No need to worry about nails, otherwise no female harpers would play at all. You know enough about music that you would have no trouble at all finding your way around a lever harp. On the pedal harp the learning curve is way high. But beware! Once you start down the path of Celtic Harp, the magic will get you! Thanks for the Celtic post. Yes, by all means keep me in the loop with your Celtic piece progress!

        • laura bruno lilly

          I never thought about it from the perspective of the well manicured woman! HA!
          I think I must allow a little magic to ‘get me’ sometime…hmmmm.

  5. L. Marie

    I love that you’re offering praise through the use of your gifts. Thank you for sharing that excerpt. You’re obviously gifted in music.
    The McMeen version of Mo Giolla Mear is lovely.
    I can’t blame you for refusing to excerpt your Goat Suite before registering. Very wise.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You, too, offer praise through your gifts…I’ve seen it from afar.
      Thanks for taking a break from noveling to visit and comment. 😉
      peace, dear one.

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