100 word Blurb
their landscapes, the music of Ireland and Scandinavia are spectacular,
inspiring, and very different to each other. Northern Lights
of the Fjord and Glen”, an exploration of Irish and Scandinavian
traditional songs and dance music that connects a vast musical
performance evokes everything between the ice of the North sea and
the warmth of Irish summer pastures, in search of a deeper understanding
of the things that unite us all.
history and description
Lights brings a new program in which Traditional Irish music
and Ireland’s oldest singing style, sean nós,
is put in contrast to Scandinavian musical traditions and
de Cock first came to my attention through his excellent singing
of the traditional
Irish song An Droimeann Donn. It is
the fact that the song is in Gaelic that made this a veritable
achievement as Gaeilge is not a common language in Ireland even,
never mind Raphael’s home place of Antwerp. I made a note
of this and though it would be interesting to try something together.
A little further investigation revealed that Raphael had a deep
interest, and understanding of languages and musical traditions
and that his command of languages, which he cultivated as a result
of his love of the music and singing of many minority traditions,
extended to the far reaches of Europe. Scots Gaelic, Gaeilge, Sardinian,
Norwegian, were just some of the languages he had mastered well
enough to sing.
Raphael also played the emblematic instrument of Ireland, the
Uilleann Pipes, and had a more than passing interest in Irish Traditional
Around this time there was a big hullaballoo in the City of Dublin
as a relic from an age ago sailed up the liffey and docked at the
port outside the Custom House. The Havhingsten fra Glendalough
was originally built in Dublin nearly 1,000 years ago from wood
which dendrochronologists traced back to Glendalough in the Wicklow
Mountains just south of Dublin. The Sea Stallion, as it is called
in English, sailed from the, then Norse port of Dublin, to Denmark,
where it was eventually scuttled at the mouth of a Fjord to protect
against sea raiders.
was eventually excavated and a reconstruction project was undertaken
using original methods
and materials. The cities of Dublin and
Roskilde worked on a joint project which culminated in a retracing
of the original sea journey of the Havhingsten between Denmark
and Dublin. The project highlighted some interesting possibilities
regarding the cultural traffic that must have existed between these
two nations 1000 years ago. For centuries Ireland had been under
the influence of Viking invaders. This was not only a hostile relationship,
but very often long lasting alliances emerged between the Gaelic
population and the Nordic newcomers. Therefore it is not so surprising
to discover a lot of similarities in the musical traditions of
both regions, and of course, also intriguing differences. This
is the focal point of this trio by combining sean-nos singing,
Scandinavian kveding (medieval & traditional songstyle), fiddle,
uilleann pipes, swedish bagpipes (säckpipa), norwegian hardangerfiddle,
harmonic flutes, whistles and percussion.
final member of the group, Rémi Decker,
is from the Belgian Walloon area. Rémi, who has led many
projects rooted in traditional and ethnic styles, comes from a
family with strong links to traditional music. With a touring history
that lists four continents, his involvement in traditional music;
both playing and producing; is extensive. He has played a large
collection of instruments from a very early age and in this group
he provides Northern Lights with a host of instrumental variations
building this project we started talking about putting together
a programme which contained elements of Irish and Norse music.
It is interesting
that in traditional
music each place develops its own flavour, that while there may
be similarities and influences there are still very divergent differences.
So we asked could we find common themes.
We also wanted to highlight the differences between the traditions.
Do they compliment each other? Do they clash? Is this more of a
confrontation than a collaboration?
thought that we would compare our older music types such as Kveding
(the medieval singing
of Scandinavia) and Aislings, marches,
and laments. And then some of the newer dance tune forms such as
jigs and polska’s. We also wanted to connect songs with common
themes such as sea journeys and exile, and songs with common tonality
style of delivery achieves these aims I think with interesting
results. And after three years we have delivered on the theory
with our debut album 'Dubh agus Geal - Darkness and Light: Loric