Dulaman Fantasy for Orchestra

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Full details

The origin of the Irish folk song, Dúlamán, is lost in time. Over the years, the words have been set to various tunes reflecting regional differences and, even today, new melodies are being written. The Gaelic words tell of a merchant who deals in seaweed (dúlamán). His daughter wishes to marry and the merchant compares the quality of the suitors to the various types of seaweed. Unfortunately, the standard translations of the lyrics do not convey the humour and subtleties of the text.

Dúlamán Fantasy is not a setting of the folksong, nor does it attempt to capture the original mood of the work; instead, various melodies, both traditional and modern, have been combined with new material to create an original composition for orchestra.

The piece begins with an evocation of the sea at dawn and introduces the three note dúlamán theme. Other melodies and rhythmic patterns appear, blending and mutating through constantly shifting time signatures to create a wild melée conveying the bustle and excitement of the open air market. Bagpipes are suggested by the use of pedal tones and Dorian mode.

I am indebted to David Downes and Michael McGlynn for some of the musical ideas used as a starting point in composing this work.

Instrumentation Notes:

The score uses 3,2,2,2/4,3,3,1/timp+2/harp/strings. There are no optional parts.

The first clarinet part requires a player capable of employing ornamentation with the relaxed flexibility of an Irish whistle player.

Percussion is divided into cymbals & tenor drum, bass drum, and 4 timpani (with retuning). The tenor drum should be as large and low-pitched as possible, played with heavy wooden sticks as would be used with bagpipes rather than in a drum and bugle corp.

The harp part is essential but could be played on synthesizer if a suitable sound patch can be found and the complete range can be covered. Careful use of the pedal will be needed to create sufficient sustain in the sound to give warmth to the passages.

Score (Tabloid or A3): 43 pages Parts (Letter or A4): 356 pages (single parts except for 2 percussion and strings 8/8/6/6/4)

Score ID
Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
7 minutes
Folk music and Classical music
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