INTRODUCING THE NEW GLASS HARMONICA INSTRUMENTAL CD FROM DONAL HINELY
“Evoking the haunting Irish landscape like the soundtrack to a Coen brothers movie, songs of the great Irish bard O’Carolan are made new through interpretations on guitar, viola da gamba, harp, flute, and the singular sound of the glass harmonica.”
Scuffletown Records is very pleased to announce the release of a brand new CD of glass harmonica music. Many of you have been asking for years and now it’s finally here! Recorded and mixed at The Snug Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, ONE BOTTLE MORE delivers 12 traditional Irish instrumentals featuring the superb musicianship of Renaissance festival stalwarts Bob Bielefeld, Martha Gay, Alex Korolov, and Jim Hancock. New producer Paul Umbach and a variety of talented musicians helped create some genuinely stirring soundscapes and pushed the glass harmonica to new heights.
ONE BOTTLE MORE Album notes
One of the last of the great wandering Irish bards, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) composed beautiful, lilting, and often haunting melodies on his harp. Blinded by smallpox in his late teens, O’Carolan navigated life through the patronage system, composing songs in praise of wealthy benefactors in exchange for ample room and board. By all accounts, he lived very well this way, traversing Ireland for close to 50 years. Because Irish harp music was rarely written down, what survives today was passed down by generations of musicians. There are over 200 songs attributed to Turlough O’Carolan. I like to think that he would be gratified to hear how the centuries have weathered, transformed, and revived his music. Known to be a gregarious and lively man, O’Carolan enjoyed fellowship and good drink. Perhaps feeling a kinship in more than musical terms, I chose to honor this aspect of the man—the spirit so to speak—by choosing “One Bottle More” as the title track and “Ode to Whiskey” as a good starting point for the journey. Slainte, enjoy in good health!
—Donal Hinely, 9/5/17
Donal Hinely--glasses, guitar
Bob Bielefeld--flute, whistle
Alex Korolov--viola da gamba
Recorded and mixed by Paul Umbach at The Snug Studio, Nashville, TN
Tracks 2, 6, 8, 12 recorded by Jim Hancock at Scarborough Renaissane Festival, mixed by Paul Umbach
Viola da gamba on tracks 4, 5, 9 recorded by Jim Hancock at Sterling Renaissance Festival, mixed by Paul Umbach
Mastered by Alex McCollough at True East Mastering, Nashville, TN
Graphic Design by Fergus Hinely
Photo by Andrew Lesny
Huge thanks to the amazingly talented Paul Umbach at The Snug Studio in Nashville, TN. It’s hard to imagine getting this done without you.
Big thanks are also due to Bob Bielefeld, Martha Gay, Jim Hancock, Fergus Hinely, and Alex Korolov.
To the members of Cantiga: It has been an honor and a privilege to share a stage with you, to bear witness to your consummate artistry and professionalism, and to be inspired by your example.
A note about the musical glasses
The instrument featured on ONE BOTTLE MORE consists of 26 water tuned wine glasses and brandy snifters. The crystalline tones coaxed from this stemware are actually vibrations caused by moistened fingers passing along the rims of the glasses. In the arcane world of glass playing, this configuration is most accurately called “goblet style musical glasses.” It has also had more colorful names throughout its history including the “angelic organ,” the “glass harp,” and a personal favorite, the “ghost fiddle.” Today, however, it is known by most as the “glass harmonica.” This confusing twist of nomenclature can be blamed on Benjamin Franklin. Employing the Italian word for harmony, Benjamin Franklin invented a glass instrument that he called the “glass armonica.” It was an attempt to improve upon the musical glasses by creating a set of pre-tuned crystal bowls that revolved on a treadle powered spindle. The popularity of Franklin’s instrument and its adoption by composers as renowned as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, solidified the name. The Germans eventually added an “h” to it, giving us the “glass harmonica.”
Why this long exploration on the origins of the name of an obscure instrument?
It is mainly to emphasize that the sounds heard on this recording were produced on a homemade apparatus. Each note is created by individual glasses procured at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets. They are all different sizes, shapes, and even colors. Though unknown to the player, each glass has a history, a story to tell. And each is now joined with others as notes of a diatonic scale. It is a rag tag choir of cast-offs, together creating something well beyond their original purpose. Music. And that’s pretty cool.