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Fionnuala was the only girl in a family of boys, resented and ill-treated by their father's new wife.  The stepmother eventually turned the lot of them into swans.  I have set this tune with a left-hand that becomes almost a counter melody, with contrary and parallel motion.  Play it simply and beautifully.

One and a half pages of music and text by Thomas Moore; Intermediate level; In A minor (key of C), with one pre-set G#; no lever changes, fingerings or brackets.

Listen to The Song of the Fionnuala (software-generated mp3):

This is a very old Irish tune, written by a fisherman and fiddler from the Northwest coast of Ireland, who, when out fishing with his mates one day, heard the tune mysteriously playing in the middle of the ocean. Believing it have an otherworldly origin, he named the tune after the, Pooka, an Irish water spirit.  Later speculation tied the tune to migrating humpback whales.  Either way, the tune is haunting.

This arrangement is spare and slow, using the harp to capture that otherworldly quality with slow rolls and harmonics.  Part of the haunting quality comes from the switching from C natural to C sharp, a repeated change that is easy to achieve with the spareness of the left hand.

For early intermediate and above.  One recurring lever change, Key of D. Two pages of music.  No fingerings or brackets.

The recording will give you an idea, but the piece should be played very rubato.

Listen to Song of the Pooka (software-generated mp3):

Here is another ballad for those of us bitten by the Tam Lin bug. I've added an introduction and ending to this lovely melody.  The accompaniment features ballad patterns and parallel motion.

Intermediate level. In A minor (key of C). Two pages of music plus text.  No lever changes, fingerings or brackets.

Listen to Young Tambling (software-generated mp3):

This tune is a great fit for any program about fairies, the mysteries of Celtic lore, or, best of all, the adventures of harpers.

Late beginner or early intermediate; A minor (key of C).  One and a half pages of music.  No lever changes, fingerings or bracket. Includes an interlude and text.

Listen to Thomas the Rhymer (software-generated mp3):

A rollicking reel, so fun to play!  I've shared the love between two hands, making it achievable even for advanced beginners.  There are some cool downward rolling chords for that spooky effect, and also some fun grace notes (leave them out until you can play the melody well without them).

In A minor (key of C); one page of music; no lever changes, fingerings or brackets.

Listen to The Tamlin Reel (software-generated mp3):

This version of the Tam Lin ballad has an unnamed maiden walking her father's grounds when a figure appears and demands to know why she is there. When she questions him he reveals himself to be the only child of Lord Robinson, and that he was stolen away by the faeries.

Verse one is simply accompanied, to let the lilting tune sparkle.  Verse two features a moving ballad accompaniment in the left hand.

Accessible to early intermediate players.  Two pages of music in A Dorian (the key of G).  No lever changes, fingerings or brackets.

Listen to Lord Robinson's Only Child (software-generated mp3):

This lovely tune is another ballad about a ghostly lover, a story with the usual tragic results. In spite of the sad subject matter, the tune itself is sweetly upbeat. This arrangement is accessible to early intermediate players, and features a lovely waltz pattern in the left hand. The second verse takes the tune into a higher octave.

Key of G; two pages of music.  No lever changes, fingerings or brackets.

Listen to Sweet William's Ghost (software-generated mp3):

Like the famous Butterfly, this tune is a slip jig, in 9/8 time.  It's a lot of fun to play and a great addition to your ghostly repertoire. The first verse features a rollicking open hand pattern in the left hand--it looks impressive but is not hard to master.  There is also some fun parallel motion in the second verse.

A Dorian (key of G); 2 pages of music.  No lever changes.  No fingerings or brackets.

Listen to Wandering Spirit (software-generated mp3):

This English ghost ballad is one of my favorites.  The tune is haunting and the story more sweet than macabre.   This arrangement of this beautiful tune includes some left hand harmonics, harmony in sixths, and a recurring (but optional) lever change.

Two pages of music. Key of Dm, optional lever changes, intermediate level.  No fingerings or brackets.

Listen to The Lover's Ghost (software-generated mp3):

The Celtic tradition is full of ghost stories, but in this one from Scotland the harp plays a central role. When a passing harper makes a new harp from the golden hair and white breastbone of a lovely murdered maiden, it starts to sing the story of her cruel sister's betrayal.  This arrangement of the haunting tune includes a recurring motif as introduction and interlude, with three different verses. One of the verses features the melody in the left hand with floating chords above it.

 

Two pages of music. Key of Am, no lever changes, intermediate level.  No fingerings or brackets.

Listen to Binnorie (Two Sisters) (software-generated mp3):