Singing (3)

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  • Teideal (Title): Singing (3).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781502.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): none.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): singing style.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 02/03/1978 – 03/03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

Stylistic development

Esther Warkov asks how Joe would know if something he was doing was good or not. Joe’s remarks reflect the necessity of ‘living the song’ – like drawing a picture, you need a blueprint. He would never just practice one line at a time. The first thing is to know the story – it’s very important and informs the whole. One line knits into the next – it’s got to be done straight through. Holistic approach. You have to see it happening, and be in the shoes of the person the song is about.

Stylistic differences between Joe and his father

Esther asks Joe how his style may differ from that of his father, and Joe says that his father’s style would generally have been a bit quicker than his own, at least in the slow songs. As regards ornamentation, Joe says his own style is much more ornamented than his father’s would have been. The song ‘Easter Sunday’ (presumably Amhrán na Páise) would have been sung without ornamentation; and people tell him they like it. His grandmother’s first reaction was ‘Where did you get that?’ – meaning the style of it – but after a while they liked it – glorifying the song, putting it on a pedestal. This would have been six months or so before she died. ‘People who sing in imitation of somebody else is like courting somebody else’s girlfriend, with your two arms around her. But there is no way I can do them as good as I want to do them – justice over justice. Because I love the songs so much, I understand the spirit of the songs, and I understand why the songs were composed in the first place – and nobody knows who composed the half of them, you see.’


This was recorded while Joe Heaney was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington.