The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #99782 Message #3791369
Posted By: keberoxu
20-May-16 - 03:51 PM
Thread Name: virtuosity and traditional music
Subject: RE: virtuosity and traditional music
I have just been getting acquainted with the recorded singing of Máire Ní Scolaí, born in 1909 and died in 1985. Now I wasn't there -- before my time -- but judging from the documentation, Ms. Ní Scolaí was practically a fixture at Radio Éireann, singing unaccompanied in the broadcast studio. She left behind numerous broadcast recordings of the sean-nós repertoire. By then the bloom was off of her contralto voice, and you can hear her making shrewd use of the singing techniques that she learned from classical music schooling, supporting the beautiful remnants of her instrument with air and breath and enviably trained muscular coordination. Whoever taught her singing knew what they were about, as her recordings are a master class for, of all things, the kind of singing technique needed to fill a concert hall or to project over an orchestra in the opera house. I am better acquainted with these classical techniques, in fact, than I am with traditional music, and I am in awe of this artist.
Apart from her enviable vocal technique, Ms. Ní Scolaí has decent good taste. She doesn't go for the cheap gesture, and her delivery is restrained and balanced at all times. No wonder they liked her in the broadcast studio, because she was so reliable and consistent.
Her singing of "Eibhlín a Rúin" gives me shivers. She was younger when she recorded that song, and many others, for HMV on 78 RPM singles; usually her sean-nós recordings for HMV were accompanied by a pianist. So her performance venues, and her audience, were far from the environments in which sean-nós tradition appears to have been nurtured. She made the repertoire known, though, and benefited from the nascent recording industry. I can understand if her singing makes traditionalists ill at ease. And I can't get over how beautifully she sings. Thanks for listening.