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Two Stories In One

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SKU: Two Stories In One Categories: ,

Description

Two Stories In One

The recordings of ‘Two Stories in One’ and the accompanying origins of the band ‘Reconciliation’ are best described in the notes that were written for the CD booklet in Sydney Australia, 1992. It goes as follows: –

A wonderful convergence of musical talents, an amazing convergence of musical cultures; this is ‘Reconciliation’. In 1988 Simon O’Dwyer discovers that Bronze Age Irish horns can be played with the same techniques used to play the Aboriginal didgeridoo. He arranges to have casts made of the original instruments and starts playing them at traditional music gigs.

Four years on, Simon spends time in Arnhem Land deepening his knowledge of didgeridoo playing. Then, back in Dublin, in a pub (where else?), he comes across fellow musician Maria Cullen. Fascinated by the sounds the reconstructed horns produce, Maria sets up Ancient Music Ireland to make Ireland’s newly rediscovered ancient music more widely available. In January 1992 Maria and Simon set out on a six month tour of Australia and just three days after touch down, they have the good luck to run into ace didgeridoo player Alan Dargin (himself from Arnhem Land). They play together, they play each other’s instruments, and they discover a remarkable musical coincidence.

Alan introduces Maria and Simon to another outstanding exponent of the art of the didgeridoo, Phillip Conyngham, and the four begin to perform together. This is how Maria recalls those heady days: ‘The music that we began to create came about as we were busking together on Circular Quay in Sydney, I would play an Irish rhythm or reel time on the bodhrán (the Irish drum) and the other three would improvise, making the sound grow to an amazing crescendo. Or I would play a jig time – this is the rhythm that inspired the track Jiggery Didj. We would count out the jig time in our heads and take it from there, using clap sticks and clicking the stick off the rim of the bodhrán – it was a sound guaranteed to get people dancing!’

A series of gigs follow across the country; ‘Reconciliation’ comes into being and less than a year later Natural Symphonies, always with its ear to the ground for the extraordinary, releases the group’s first album. A wonderful convergence of musical talents that’s one story, but ‘Reconciliation’ also represents another story – of two cultures which have preserved their identity and vitality despite long, often brutal histories of foreign oppression.

Bronze Age Irish horns (whose reproductions the group plays) have been recovered from sites throughout Northern and Southern Ireland. It is thought that many of these were buried (perhaps circa 900BC) to preserve them from foreign invaders. To make the horns sound again is inevitably to summon up the sound of a world in which the Irish people were united and free. Yet it took another equally ancient, equally proud culture to make the horns speak, the didgeridoo, a drone instrument once confined to North and North Western Australia, but increasingly the sound signature of an Australia that recognises the historical and spiritual authority of Aboriginal cultures in moulding its identity. In the hands of Alan and Phillip, the didgeridoo ranges with equal flair and facility across a wide range of Western and non-Western music styles. But its richly variable tone-colour, produced simply by altering the vibration of the lips and a changing air-flow, remains unique. Not uniquely local though – and I guess this is the point. The fact that the horns of Bronze Age Ireland were also drone instruments makes one wonder whether our familiar Western musical tradition rests on the silencing of an older – and more cosmopolitan – culture of music making.

The ancient Greeks are said to have ‘tortured’ strings to make them play tunes – as if the instruments of Western music were slaves! Is this the difference perhaps? The unstopped horn, the open-ended didgeridoo, and the hand-sized clap stick belong to a tradition of un-tortured, humanly-oriented sound. In any case, the result is a sound that is joyfully physical and spontaneous, that invites you to get up and dance. The sound of an amazing cultural convergence – this is the sound of ‘Reconciliation’.

Musically Irish and Aboriginal music-making traditions converge at a number of points. Similar rhythms, for example predominate in both traditions, including four-four time and waltz time. In addition, Aboriginal music also makes use of a sophisticated range of syncopated rhythms. Compositions are also put together in similar ways in both traditions: musical sections alternate with one another according to an a-b-a-b pattern, and the alternation of verse with chorus is another common feature. It is on this common ground that ‘Reconciliation’ has created its remarkable musical fusion.

Written by Paul Carter

 

01 ‘Reconciliation’ 3.02 min (title track).

Very shortly after the group had met and began to experiment with instruments, ‘Reconciliation’ was invited to appear on the famous Australian lunch time live television programme, ‘The Ray Martin Show’ in April 1992. A tune was especially composed for the occasion to be played live on the show. The name ‘Reconciliation’ was chosen to express a musical coming together of bronze horns and bodhrán from Ireland both North and South with black and white didgeridoo playing of Australia. At that time, Northern Ireland was still being savaged by a political and religious struggle between two communities. In Australia the Aboriginal people were waiting for a gesture of recognition of their place and rights as the first inhabitants of the Continent. During the intervening years peace has been achieved in Ireland and Aboriginal Australia has been acknowledged in many ways including a formal apology by a Prime Minister for previous wrongs committed on them by settlers and immigrants. Yet the message retains its relevance. Sharing of musical instruments and traditions is always a wonderful way to bring people closer together. Music is after all the Universal language.

Alan Dargin – didgeridoo, dord ard, boomerang sticks
Maria Cullen O’Dwyer – bodhrán, clap sticks
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo, clap sticks
Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal, clap sticks
Greg Sheehan – kangaroo hand drum
Mike Gissing – engineering and mastering
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mastering and post mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

02 Polite Conversation 2.48 min

In 1992 Simon O’Dwyer and Maria Cullen O’Dwyer were booked to play horns and bodhrán in a demonstration performance for The Canberra Folk Festival. They invited newly joined band members Alan Dargin and Phil Conyngham to play as the new group ‘Reconciliation’. During the festival the band met Greg Sheehan who was running a percussion workshop and demonstrating the kubling or bamboo mouth harp from the Philippines. When the band subsequently went into studio, Greg was invited to contribute to some of the tracks. Polite conversation is a quirky play between a didgeridoo and kublin. It is almost possible to imagine what is being said in the tune.

Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Greg Sheehan – kubling or bamboo mouth harp
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mixing and mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

03 Over the Road 1.47 min

This is the first collaboration between Simon O’Dwyer on hand bodhrán and Phil Conyngham on didgeridoo. The tune in a lose 4/4 time enhances the percussive elements of the didgeridoo. A very low tone from a balander vari-didj and the call of an adharc fill out the sound. ‘Over the Road’ is named after an expression from Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, Ireland where friends would go ‘Over the Road’ from one pub to the next for a drink.

Simon O’Dwyer – hand bodhrán, balander vari-didj, adharc
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mixing and mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

04 Bís 6.12 min (Irish Gaelic for spiral).

Shortly after meeting up in Sydney in January 1992, the group ‘Reconciliation’ went busking at the Bondi Junction railway station. A favoured place was an underground tunnel near the entrance though which commuters had to pass. Experiments were played with two didgeridoos and a dord íseal using the wild acoustic of the space to bring out ‘crossover’ tones. In studio, effects were used to replicate the sound while an Irish brass stringed harp and vocal by Cathy O’Sullivan (Canberra) gave the sound a delicate ethereal form. Cathy had been pioneering the brass stringed harp which had died out at the end of the 8th Century AD.

Alan Dargin – didgeridoo, clap sticks
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Cathy O’Sullivan – Irish brass stringed harp, vocals
Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal
Mike Gissing – engineer Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mixing and mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

05 Don’t Wake ‘im 3.37 min

‘Don’t Wake ‘im’ is influenced by a traditional story of Coronation Hill (Northern Territory, Australia). The hill is said to be in the shape of a coiled up snake. A version of the story says that people were dying because a bad snake was coming out of the ground. A messenger was sent to find the good snake Bulla. When he came he saw that the bad snake was too powerful for him to overcome so he waited. Eventually the bad snake went back down underground. Bulla then coiled himself round and round over the hole and went to sleep. Thus, Coronation Hill is Bulla sleeping. It is interesting to note that Coronation Hill was recently found to be rich in uranium.

Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

06 Jalopy 2.47 min (original title – u dare nah goonah).

Jalopy began life as a multi didgeridoo experiment by Phil Conyngham exploring a fresh 4/4 beat and arrangement. Two years previously in 1990, Simon O’Dwyer had learnt an old Aboriginal song from singer song writer Joe Giea. Joe had learnt it from Chitty, originally from the Roebourne People of Western Australia. It describes an elder’s reaction to the local homesteads when they replaced the horse and cart with motor cars. Jalopy is probably the first traditional Aboriginal song to be covered in a completely new way.

Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Simon O’Dwyer – vocal
Cathy O’Sullivan – backing vocal
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

07 Sticks 2.05 min

This is the first recording of sticks. Essentially the lively percussion on four sets of sticks and a slit drum played by guest artist Greg Sheehan celebrates some of the oldest beat instruments in the World. (also see live version, track 5, ‘Live 1’ album). Two didgeridoos and a dord íseal drive the tune in a most satisfactory way.

Alan Dargin – didgeridoo, clap sticks
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo, clap sticks
Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal, clap sticks
Maria Cullen O’Dwyer – clap sticks
Greg Sheehan – slit drum
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

08 Michael Dwyer’s Tribute 6.49 min

While ‘Reconciliation’ was in Sydney in early 1992 it was decided to hold a benefit at the Mercantile Hotel, The Rocks in honour of the memory of Michael Dwyer. He was deported to Australia in 1804 as one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. He had surrendered his army of 500 to the British on the condition that he could go to America. However, the British reneged and he was deported instead to the then penal colony of Australia. At first things did not go well for Michael Dwyer yet before he died his achievements included being appointed chief of police in Sydney. He is remembered on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th when the Sydney celebration parade terminates at his grave in Waverly Cemetery. Coincidentally, Simon O’Dwyer is a descendent of Michael Dwyer and thus the tune is essentially for his ‘uncle’. It was performed and recorded live at the Mercantile Hotel in Sydney in 1992.

Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal, clap sticks
Alan Dargin – adharc
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Mike Gissing – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

09 Kerry Polka 1.23 min

Maria Cullen O’Dwyer plays a steady version of this famous tune from Co. Kerry in Ireland. Her whistle is given an unusual backing with didgeridoo, bodhrán and clap sticks. The polka is coiled into a foot tapping funky tune. Usually this style is too fast for the bodhrán but by playing with the back of the hand, Simon O’Dwyer is able to split across the beat and essentially half it while Phil Conyngham glues it together with didgeridoo.

Maria Cullen O’Dwyer – whistle
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Alan Dargin – clap sticks
Simon O’Dwyer – hand bodhrán, clap sticks
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

10 Pony Tail Reel 1.14 min

‘Pony Tail Reel’ was composed for dord íseal by Simon O’Dwyer in 1990. It was for a friend who always wore the distinctive pony tail hair style. Simon had been improving his playing technique following an earlier visit to Australia when he met didgeridoo players Charlie McMahon and Joe Giea. ‘Pony Tail Reel’ is one of the earliest compositions for solo dord íseal.

Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal
Rod Callan – engineering, mastering
Recorded at Reeltime Studios, Annemoe, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, 1991

 

11 Na Miola Mora 2.18min. (Gaelic – The Big Whales).

This tremendously powerful ensemble sound was fabricated for an earlier album ‘Dord’ which was released on cassette in Dublin, Ireland, 1991. The tune uses a variety of bronze horns,animals horns and sea shells to suggest whales moving and calling in the vastness of the ocean.

Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal,dord ard, adharc, conch shell, buffalo horn, Scottish Highland cow horn, Kudu horn
Rod Callan – engineer
Rod Callan, Simon O’Dwyer – mastering
Recorded at Reeltime Studios, Annemoe, Co. Wicklow Ireland, 1991

 

12 Lilting Horns 2.59 min (also see track 6, ‘Lilting Horns on ‘Overtone’ album).

Lilting horns was originally recorded in Sydney to be played on ABC Radio. The recording was then mastered for inclusion in the album ‘Two Stories in One’. The light hearted waltz shows off the complimentary tuning and tones of three Irish bronze horns played together. It is interesting to note that the adharc and dord ard featured in the tune were reproduced from originals which had been found together as a pair.

Phil Conyngham – dord íseal
Alan Dargin – dord ard
Simon O’Dwyer – adharc
Mike Gissing – mastering and post mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

13 Heavy Load 2.10 min

In ‘Heavy Load’, Alan Dargin used his extraordinary skills on didgeridoo and dord ard to compose a vibrant modern tune. Though Alan drove the tempo of a tremendous note it was no problem for master percussionist Greg Shehan to click right along and make ‘Heavy Load’ the amazing romping hoon that it is.

Alan Dargin – didgeridoo, dord ard
Greg Sheehan – kangaroo drum, shakers, slit drum
Mike Gissing – engineer
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

 

14 Jiggery Didj 2.22 min

This fast lively jig is based upon a traditional Irish tune, ‘The Dingle Regatta’ which celebrates a harbour regatta or holiday in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland. This was always a great crowd riser for ‘Reconciliation’ and the band continues to play ‘Jiggery Didj’ as one of their anchor tracks.

Alan Dargin – didgeridoo, dord ard, backing vocal
Phil Conyngham – didgeridoo
Maria Cullen O’Dwyer – bodhrán
Simon O’Dwyer – dord íseal, vocals
Mike Gissing – engineer
Mike Gissing, Phil Conyngham, Simon O’Dwyer – mastering
Recorded at Digital City Studios, Sydney, Australia, 1992

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