Radio Show – Episode 8 – July 3, 2016 – The Power of Music

Today’s show is devoted to the Power of Music and its ability to enchant. Irish myth describes “Three Noble Strains” of music, known as the geantraí – song of joy/merriment, the goltraí – song of sorrow, and the suantraí – song of comfort/for soothing. You’ll hear expressions of all three “strains” in the music and stories played and told today.

Click here for the latest Forest Halls Celtic show on demand

Show 8-Power of Music

12:00: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More
12:01: Heartstring Quartet – Patrick Bellew’s March / An Cailin Rua Gaelach
12:05: William Taylor – Macpherson’s Testament
12:08: Paul Machlis – Darkness Falling
12:13: Dagda – Harp of Dagda
12:16: Johnnie Lawson – Natural Sound of the Forest Birds Singing
12:20: The Chieftains & James Galway – The Red Admiral Butterfly
12:25: Maire Ni Chathasaigh – Carolans Farewell to Music
12:29: Johnnie Lawson – Excerpt 2
12:32: Fiona Davidson – Deirdre of the Sorrows
12:49: Anuna – Sleepsong
12:52: Julie Fowlis – Cadal Ciarach Mo Luran
12:57: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More

Format: Track Title – artist (CD Title)

Geantrai – song of joy and merriment

“Patrick Bellew’s March / An Cailin Rua Gaelach” Heartstring Quartet (Heartstring Sessions)

The Heartstring Quartet brings together two famous Irish duos: Arty McGlynn & Nollaig Casey, Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman. Nollaig and Máire are sisters who play fiddle and harp, respectively.

“Macpherson’s Testament” – William Taylor  
Bill (William) Taylor researches, performs, teaches and records the ancient harp music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He is one of very few players interpreting these repertoires using gut-strung medieval harps, renaissance harps with buzzing bray pins and wire-strung clarsachs.

In this show, I (incorrectly) stated that I thought that Bill Taylor was a harpmaker for Ardival Harps. But that isn’t so. He is a harper-in-residence for Ardival Harps. The actual makers are Zan and Alex Dunn and associates.

My friend and colleague, singer-songwriter and harper, Verlene Schermer writes:

“There is in Irish folklore, a story about the three sacred strains of music. The three strains are known as the goltrai — song of sorrow, the suantrai – song of comfort, and the gentrai – song of joy (Walton). The Dagda Mor, (the good god) is the leader of the Tuatha De Dannan, (the Fairy Folk – who are gods themselves), and it is his harp, Uaithne, that has the magical ability to bring listeners to tears, to put them to sleep, or to cause them to dance.”

Here we enjoy the story itself …

“Harp of the Dagda” – Irish Myth retold by Barra the Bard (Barra Jacob-McDowell) – read by Jane Valencia/ Music: “Darkness Falling” Paul Machlis (Greenwoods) 
Barra the Bard received her name from the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides off the West Coast of Scotland and her love of storytelling from her maternal grandmother, Abigail Jones Dangler. With a repertoire of over 5,000 stories Barra specializes in tales from the Celtic nations (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany, & Spain). She also enjoys telling stories from other ethnic traditions as well as family stories of her own.

Check out my Article for the Folk Harp Journal, Be A Bard: Start Down an Ancient Path, which features an interview with Barra.

Read Barra the Bard’s “Harp of the Dagda”.

“Harp of Dagda” – Dagda (Celtic Trance)
A review on says:
“If you’re not looking for “Traditional” Irish jigs, reels, lyrics, ballads or tunes, but rather a tightly put together selection of songs with a modern, mystic, Celtic “flavor” and a dream-like quality, with a nice heavy bass beat…then this is a CD for you!”

Danceable rhythms overlaid with string arrangements and lilting Celtic melodies compose the sound of Ireland’s Dagda, the collective moniker for producers Red Keating and Phillip O’Rely.

Johnnie Lawson -Natural Sound of the Forest Birds Singing 
Today’s forest sounds are from Johnnie Lawson. He writes: “I search out tranquil, quiet places in nature where we like to go when we want peace and calm, away from the stresses of modern day life. I capture the sense of beauty and tranquility of each location in sound and vision. It is my pleasure to bring these healing videos to you, free for you to relax with at any time of the day or night, anywhere in the world.”

On Forest Halls Celtic, we’ve heard several versions of the Irish slip jig, The Butterfly. A slip-jig is in 9/8 time, but we’ve heard it also in 11/8 and 5/4. In this next version, we hear yet another rhythmic variation, that of 12/8 tim.

“The Red Admiral Butterfly” (slip jig) James Galway & The Chieftains (James Galway & The Chieftains in Ireland)
Douglas Hadden writes:
“The Chieftains” and James Galway play an arrangement of the Irish slip-jig, “The Butterfly”. Possibly the best-known “slip-jig” [ in 9/8 time ] in Irish traditional music. It was made popular by “The Bothy Band” on their first eponymous album. It is often thought of as an original composition by Dublin fiddle-player Tommy Potts, but it is generally accepted these days that he “re-arranged” parts from other traditional tunes, and possibly only the 3rd part is original. In any case, a great tune. “The Chieftains” arrangement plays the original – a great introduction by Matt Molloy – and then change the time signature into 12/8.”

Goltraí – song of sorrow

“O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music” – Máire Ní Chathasaigh (The New Strung Harp)
From Wikipedia:
“Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 25 March 1738) was a blind early Irish harper, composer and singer whose great fame is due to his gift for melodic composition. Although not a composer in the classical sense, Carolan is considered by many to be Ireland’s national composer. … Some of Carolan’s own compositions show influences of the style of continental classical music, whereas others such as Carolan’s Farewell to Music reflect a much older style of “Gaelic Harping.”

Reputedly the last song composed by O’Carolan — perhaps even on his deathbed! — Carolan’s Farewell to Music is an expression of goltrai — a song of sorrow.

Máire Ní Chathasaigh is an amazing Irish harper, and one I listened to carefully when I first began learning harp.

“Deirdre of the Sorrows” – Fiona Davidson (The Language of Birds)
The Celts know all about beauty, passion, tragedy, and grief. In this story we experience how music gives voice to this Irish myth. This is a tragic tale, but so beautifully and richly told.

Fiona Davidson had quite a career as a harper, storyteller, and bard, and performed in Iona, a progressive Celtic rock band from the United Kingdom, during its early years. These days, she goes by the name Fionntullach, and is devoted to the path of the Celtic spiritual tradition, the Céile Dé.

Suantraí – song of comfort, for soothing, lullabye

“Sleepsong” – Anúna (Invocation)
This absolutely gorgeous song was written for a tale that contains elements similar to the preceding tale of Dierdre.


“The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Irish: Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne or Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne in modern spelling) is an Irish prose narrative surviving in many variants. A tale from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology, it concerns a love triangle between the great warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill, the beautiful princess Gráinne, and her paramour Diarmuid Ua Duibhne. Surviving texts are all in Modern Irish and the earliest dates to the 16th century, but some elements of the material date as far back as the 10th century. …”

The princess Gráinne is to wed the aged great warrior Fionn, but she falls for the young warrior, Diarmuid. They run off and are pursued.

They hide from Fionn in a forest near the River Shannon, where in this greenwood shelter Gráinne soothes Diarmuid with a lullaby.

“Cadal Ciarach Mo Luran (Sleep Well My Beloved)” – Julie Fowlis  – (Gach Sgeul – Every Story)

Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis sings a “sleepsong” along the same lines as the preceding song.

Sleep well my beloved,
Sleep well my beloved,
Sleep well my beloved,
I’ll always be with you …

Newsflash! Garden Sneaking up on Unsuspecting Harp!

Many year ago, Dian Cecht — physician, god of healing, and member of the Tuatha De Danaan (an ancient tribe of divine folk in Ireland) — scattered his daughter Airmid’s cloak of herbs. With this action, he cast a possible comprehensive herbal tradition to the winds. As you might guess of an action initiated by rage and jealousy, unintended consequences have resulted.

(Hear the tale in Forest Halls Celtic – Episode 1. It takes place about halfway through the show. You can also read the tale in the Forest Halls Celtic – 4/3/16 Show Notes)

Rumors that herbal tradition had gone underground, and has recently erupted into renewed vigor and mischief appear to be well-founded, as represented in the photo below. It appears that a harp is about to be set upon by herbs

Garden Sneaking up on harp - photo
Garden Sneaking up on Harp – photo by field reporter Jane Valencia


Herbal magic may pounce upon us at any time! It is imperative that we reassemble Airmid’s herbal cloak to prevent absolute pandemonium. PLEASE NOTE: Disagreement exists as to whether the chaos will result from feral herbs having wild garden parties in our hallowed concrete jungles, or from unconscious followers of Dian Cecht’s emotional state responding with fear and outrage to the fun and powerful healing mystery of the green beings that have been living beside us all this time.  Agreement does exist that reassembling Airmid’s herbal cloak will help bring the healing ways of the herbs to one and all. This was Airmid’s original intentio, and, we presume, that of her brother the astounding healer, Miach.

Help us reassemble Airmid’s herbal cloak! Here’s how:

In the comment box below:

  • Identify one or more herbs in this photo
  • Describe a healing property of each one you I.D.
  • Describe where one might find that herb laid out on Airmid’s cloak


  • If you are an herbalist or lover of the plants, please let us know how you are contributing to the restoration of Airmid’s herbal cloak!

Important PS.!

Rumor has it that harp tradition – also resurfacing after centuries underground –  is in cahoots with the herbs. If that’s so, then the above photo may not actually represent the herbs sneaking up on the harp, but the harp leading the charge!!!! If you have reason to believe that the harp is enmeshed in restoring lost tradition please report the following:

  • How has a harp you’ve witnessed contributed to restoring lost wisdom to your neighborhood or community at large. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a harper, you yourself may have inadverently — or deliberately — contributed in this way!!!

  • If so, please share your subversive action(s). (In the harp underground, this is often referred to as a “random act of harping”)
Harp and Herbs photo
Harp and Herbs Clearly in Subversive Conversation – photo by field reporter Jane Valencia

Important PPS:

If you play an instrument, engage in a folk craft, art, or tradition, or creative expression of any kind you likely are contributing to a revitalized, intelligent, nature-allied, wise world. This is absolutely noteworthy, and we here at Forest Halls commend you for your dedication and passion.

  • Please share with us your creative expression, and your thoughts on how it helps reweave a cloak of joyful and wise healing ways in the world.

Please submit reports in the comment box below!

Your comments will be compiled into a Forest Halls report (blog post) that will be issued in conjunction with the next episode of Forest Halls Celtic, and given special mention there.

Thank you for your important contributions to healing, peace, harmony, authenitic expression, creative imagination, and radical fun in the world!

Radio Show Play List for April 3, 2016

Today marks the debut of Forest Halls Celtic, my live radio show on Voice of Vashon. You can listen on-demand to the latest show here. What a fascinating and fun experience! Sharing about the music, telling a few little tales, while operating and monitoring the radio equipment at the same time is a whole new world for me. Very different brain circuitry seems to be involved for me than for performing or teaching! That said, I’m excited to see what grows as I become adept with the technology and with this medium that is radio broadcasting.

Thank you to my friend and colleague – harper, vocalist, cellist and amazing linguist, Vicki Parrish of The Standing Stones for pronunciation guidance (any mangling of Irish Gaelic pronunciation is my own!). Thank you also to Cherry Clark of the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers for identifying Natalie MacMasters Scottish tune set. And a huge thank you to my husband and fellow deejay, Andy Valencia for training me in radio show hosting and production!

Below is the play list for today’s show.

Format of the list is: Time (PST) Track was played – Artist – Track Title

12:02 Paul Machlis – The Magic Horse
12:06 Bonnie Rideout – The Hen’s March
12:13 Natalie MacMaster – Playing the Cape Breton fiddle (Ted Talk 2003, Monterey Calif)
12:17 Irish, 9th c. – Sunshine through My Window
12:19 Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock – Dans Keff Avec
12:22 Cíana – An Dro in Em / Breton March / Bus Stop
12:27 Anúna – Home and the Heartland (Riverdance, 1995)
12:31 Jane tells “Airmid’s Cloak” Music: Chris Conway – Airmid’s Herbal Cloak
12:39 Kim Angelis – Frogsong
12:44 Ann Heymann – Hawk of Ballyshannon
12:46 Eve Goodman – Dacw ‘Nghariad
12:51 Clan Alba – Canan Nan Gaidheal
12:55 Orison – The-Butterfly

You can read more detailed notes about each track here.

And once again, if you missed the show or want an encore listening you can listen to the latest show on-demand.