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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 concert band.
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 mêlée 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.
The score is for large concert band. Oboes, bassoons, Eb clarinet and alto clarinet provide colour but are doubled by other players to enable smaller ensembles to perform the work. All other parts are essential. See page 2 of the score for full details.
The first clarinet part requires a solo player capable of employing ornamentation with the relaxed flexibility of an Irish whistle player.
Score: 37 pages (legal/A3) Parts: 176 pages (letter) for one copy of each part