THE OLD DECLARN

PIANO & ELECTRIC GUITAR · 2017


{{ currentTime | hhmmss }} | {{ duration | hhmmss }} {{ currentTime / duration }}

The backstory to this piece is almost as enchanting as the music sounds: the discovery of an old book of folk songs from the Southern Appalachians, painstakingly compiled by the founding father of the uk folk revival, Cecil J Sharp, and found, tucked away, on the book shelves of the composer, conductor, musicologist and British music royalty, Imogen Holst. Right across the Appalachians, nestled between the crags and furrows of this vast expanse of rocky ridge-lines, highlands and valleys were peoples and cultures so rich, ancient and varied that even the pronunciation of ‘Appalachian’ alters from valley to valley. And so, the same traditional songs of this area also vary from hillside to hillside.

The universal truth and sentiment in the coming-of-age song The Old Declarn is constant but, as Cecil J Sharp discovered, there are numerous variations on its melody and lyrics. In Daniel’s interpretation we hear the many different melodies deconstructed, layered on top of each other and then abstracted. The ancient wisdom and pathos, which once echoed across those pre-historic mountain-sides, continues to quietly haunt this interpretation. The age- old fragments of the song shimmer and shift in and out of focus, sounding both rooted and disconnected. Against the reverb-hazy backdrop of this uncertain present, they emerge emboldened and with clarity, or they fade and disappear into the past. Time marches on, people migrate, communities evolve, the song continues to rewrite itself.

Programme Notes by Elizabeth Alker · Broadcaster, BBC Radio 3.

Electric Guitar

with on-stage amplifier · reverb and delay signal processors · volume pedal

Piano DURATION: c.5 MINUTES
PUBLISHED BY MUSIC SALES
ALDEBURGH, NOV 2015 (First Sketch)