Maggie Sansone ~ Hammered Dulcimer
Enjoy ancient dances, Persian improvisations, Gaelic airs, jigs and reels, music for a Celtic wedding. Includes: 13th century medieval music by French and German composers of courtly love, jigs, reels, processionals from ancient Celtic lands--a true Celtic celebration.
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Bridge Guitar Reviews (Scroll down towards the bottom of the page.) "A virtuoso with a world-class gift as both a player and arranger, Sansone interprets the folk idiom on an ancient instrument with a modern voice and presents the listener with a unique opportunity for mystery and mysticism."- Women Today
" Harmoniously walking the tightrope between ancient Celtic cadences and progressive world beat sounds, Sansone easily fuses the best of past and present musical styles… lovely as it is stirring…a colorful modern dance…"- New Age Retailer
"Despite the differing contexts in which they are commonly found, the Irish-based hammered dulcimer and the Persian santur/santoor are two very similar instruments, both sonically and physically. With Mystic Dance, Maggie Sansone borrows elements from both the Irish and Middle Eastern idioms, as well as those from the medieval period, to create a sound that blends influences from multiple cultures and time frames. As with many of Sansone's releases, the overall mood of the album is rather joyous and upbeat, especially the "Celtic Wedding Set," which is awash with happy energy. In addition to the dulcimer/santur, the album also features backing accompaniment from an ensemble of musicians, including: Sue Richards on Celtic harp and Robin Bullock on guitar/mandolin."-Washington Post
Sue Richards ~ Celtic harp
Bobby Read ~ clarinet, bass clarinet, alto flute, piccolo, soprano sax, accordion, piano, synthesizer, percussion
Karen Ashbrook ~ Irish flute, pennywhistle
Paul Oorts ~ Musette accordion, guitar
Sarah Read ~ Fiddle, cello
Robin Bullock ~ cittern, mandolin, guitar
Ian Lawther ~ Northumbrian pipes
Listen to samples of tracks 2, 3, 4, 15,16 and 18.
Medieval Set (1-2) 4:52
Northumberland Set (5-6): 5:15
- Bonny at Morn 3:23
- Goddesses 1: 54
Welsh Set (7-8) 2:43
- Welsh March 1:29
- Ffaniglen 1:15
- Persian dialogue * 3:47
- Carolan's Quarrel 3:47
Celtic Reels (11-12-13): 4:34
- South Uist Reel 1:12
- Hunter's Purse 1:35
- Otter's Holt 1:46
- Improvisation in 3 parts* 4:57
Celtic Wedding Set (15-19)
- March of King of Laoise-Irish March 5:37
Jigs: (16-17) 3:21
- Bridal Jig 1:34
- Random Notes 1: 48
Waltzes (18-19): 4:18
- Draper's Maggot 2:03
Waterfall Waltz 2:16
Total Time: 51:02,
* Tracks: 4,9,14 © Maggie Sansone (ASCAP)
Since recording A Traveler's Dream, I have been exploring the joy and interconnection music expresses between people and cultures. Along my musical journey, I discovered how closely we are all bound together by music's universal language. Mystic Dance, Persian Dialogue, and Improvisation express the intercourse between musical instruments from two distant cultures related by a common mystical thread. Also in this recording The Celtic Wedding is a tribute to all the joyous celebrations I have performed for. This recording is a celebration of my life long journey and is a gift for all of your special celebrations. Enjoy! Maggie Sansone
Medieval Set (1-2): 4.55
1. Maienzit ane nit. Neidhard von Reuenthal (c.1180 -
2. Douce Dame Jolie. Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) 2:27
Hammered dulcimer, cello, fiddle, bass clarinet, flute, piccolo, shakers, hand drums.
These tunes were composed by the two most famous medieval composers of music of courtly love. Reuenthal was a German knight, poet, and singer of courtly love. Maytime speaks of banishing sorrow and the joy of spring. Machaut's music conveys a sense of modernity, with its short melodic riffs and syncopation that lends itself to improvisation.
3. Give Me Your Hand (Gaelic: Tabair Dam Do Hamh). 4:43
Hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, Irish flute, fiddle, accordion, flute, clarinet, guitar. A beautiful 17th century air written by Irishman Rory Dall Ó Catháin, (1570-1650)--a well-known Celtic harper, Catháin emigrated to Scotland where he wrote this tune around 1603.
4. Mystic Dance (2:56) © M. Sansone
Hammered dulcimer, Persian santur, synthesizer, clarinet, piccolo, hand drums. This track and track 9 (below) are improvisations; I alternated playing Persian santur and hammered dulcimer in a call and response format. Persian santur techniques and rhythms predominate, with both instruments tuned to a G minor scale and played with Persian mallets called mezrabs. The melodic structure is based loosely on two instrumental forms heard in Persian music called pishdaramad, a type of prelude, and cheharmezrab, a fast rhythmic section. The piece concludes with a haunting refrain-- a bit of melody I remember hearing long ago on the Persian ney (a wind instrument from Iran).
Northumberland Set (5-6) 5:21
5. Bonny at Morn 3.23
6. Goddesses 1:54
Hammered dulcimer, Irish flute, guitar (Paul), musette accordion, cittern,
Northumbrian pipes. Both of these are traditional tunes from Northumberland-a region northeast of England. Popular as a lullaby, Bonnie at Morn was printed in 1882, in The Northumbrian Minstrelsy. Goddesses is from John Playford's collection The English Dancing Master, printed in 1651. Ian joined in on this tune using my favorite Northumbrian smallpipes set in the key of "D"--I bought these pipes from Colin Ross.
7. Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady 3:47.
Hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, guitar.
Honored as the "Chief Musician of Ireland", 18th century Irish harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) is an inspiration to me; I always include at least one of his tunes in my recordings. [More of his music can be heard on the recording Carolan's Gift (discontinued) which is dedicated entirely to Carolan's compositions.]
Celtic Reel Set (8-10): 4:37
8. South Uist Reel 1:12
9. Hunter's Purse 1:35
10. Otter's Holt 1:46
Hammered dulcimer, cittern, Irish flute, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, piccolo, hand drums, jembe, bells, high hat, shaker. This is the first reel from the Isle of South Uist--one of the Western Isles of Scotland. The next two reels are popular Irish session tunes-I learned Hunter's Purse from Karen Ashbrook. Otter's Holt (translated Otter's nest) was written by Junior Crehan (1908-1998), the legendary Irish fiddler from County Clare.
11. Persian dialogue (5:01) © M. Sansone
Hammered dulcimer, Persian santur, synthesizer. I sat down with my Persian santur and hammered dulcimer in front of me and started a conversation. I improvised a phrase on the Persian santur, then answered on the hammered dulcimer; and so it goes--back and forth, a wonderful meeting of the minds, crossing of the borders with no boundaries. (see track 4).
Welsh Set (12-13) 2:46
12. Welsh March 1:29
13. Ffaniglen 1:15
Hammered dulcimer, clarinet, accordion (Bob). These are traditional Welsh folk dances that I learned from Sue Richards. Wales, located Southwest of England, is one of the seven Celtic nations that still retains its Celtic heritage, culture and language. The other Celtic nations are Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany (France) and Galicia (Spain).
14. Improvisation in 3 parts (3:49) © M. Sansone
I continue to delve into the fascinating world of Persian santur and Middle Eastern music. I love these sounds and they have a strong influence on the way I play the American style hammered dulcimer. This improvisation in 3 sections, based on an Arabic scale [D, E, F, G, A, B flat, C#, D] derives from my continuing exploration.
Celtic Wedding Set (15-19)
15. March of King of Laoise 5:38
Hammered dulcimer, cittern, guitar, musette accordion, soprano saxophone, piano, synthesizer, fiddle, Irish flute.
(Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha or Rory of the Hills), is a traditional Irish march. Celtic harp is the national instrument of Ireland and captures the beauty of this haunting melody. This is one of the all time classic Irish tunes that I learned nearly 20 years ago. I learned this version from Sue Richards-Sue and I agree that it's a perfect processional march.
Jigs (16-17) 3:21
16. Bridal Jig 1:34
17. Random Notes 1:48
Hammered dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, cittern, Irish flute, whistle. Here are two jigs; one from Ireland and the other from Northumberland. Random notes is attributed to James Hill, the 19th century fiddler who was born in Scotland but spent most of his life in Tyneside, Northumberland. Hill's tunes have become part of the Northumbrian tradition.
Waltzes (20-21) 4:20
18. Draper's Maggot 2:03
19. The Waterfall Waltz (Caerdroea) 2:16
Hammered dulcimer, fiddle, cello, guitar, musette accordion, clarinet, flute, bass clarinet, bass drum, bells, shaker. Here are two traditional English country-dance tunes from the John Playford collection. I think this is a lovely conclusion to the Celtic Wedding Set and to this recording as well. Enjoy this jubilant celebration!
About the Hammered Dulcimer
The instrument I play is a chromatic hammered dulcimer with damper pedals; it's a variation on a 16/15 which is 16 treble courses, and 15 bass courses, but with six bass and chromatic notes on another bridge to give more range and versatility.
My beautiful hammered dulcimer was hand made by Nicholas Blanton, of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. My Persian santur was made in Iran. It's smaller and has 72 strings in sets of four strings per course.
Two sets of nine movable bridges allow for tuning into the various eastern modes. Santur is the national instrument of Iran. Both the santur and the hammered dulcimer are trapezoidal in shape and are played with wooden mallets. Musicologists have classified them as chordophones - their sound is produced by the vibration of strings stretched across a soundboard.
Thought to have originated in the Middle East around 900 AD, there is some evidence that links the whole hammered dulcimer family to the first production of inexpensive, but strong, metal strings circa 1350 AD, in northern Europe.
Today, hammered dulcimers are made in many shapes, sizes and tunings, and are played worldwide.