100 Days – Day 63

Well, I got basically no work done in Sweden, because our schedule was extremely busy – this was nice, as it meant a complete and forced break from any kind of composition work for an entire 4 days – probably the longest I’ve gone without writing any music, or thinking about writing any music, since the beginning of my PhD.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my former life as a horn player. For some reason, it’s come up in conversation an unusual amount, and a few weeks ago, I actually dreamt that I was buying a horn in order to get back into it. Just now, as I was showering (it’s always in the shower, isn’t it?), I thought “why not add a horn to my PhD?”

There are a few places where I’ve found the string textures a little limiting in my piece. There’s one section in the third movement where there’s quite a distinct countermelody, and I’m just not sure it 100% works with just strings. It would actually be quite something with a horn part. Of course, the celtic horn (Carnyx) and the celtic harp are two of the instruments most closely associated with ancient Ireland. They’re also both mentioned in Amra Choluim Chille, but I’m not setting the text that mentions the horn. I’m also using tubular bells and crotales, because of the frequent mentions of bells in the Amra, and to evoke the ancient Dowris Crotales. *

I couldn’t, at this stage, write the horn into every movement of the piece, but I think there are enough places overall where it would fit that it wouldn’t feel like crow-barring it in. Just a natural expansion of the orchestration. And now that I’ve thought of it, it feels like it would be a dis-service not to include an homage to another instrument used so widely in pre-Christian Ireland.

Food for thought.

*To read more about ancient Irish instruments, see this very informative blog post.