Maidin Bheag Aoibhinn

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MAIDIN BHEAG AOIBHINN ("Pleasant Early Morning" or "Soft Mild Morning"). Irish, Air (3/8 time). B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA.

Denis Hempson

Source for notated version: Belfast collector Edward Bunting noted the tune from the harper Denis Hempson at Magilligan, County Kerry, in 1796. It was only published in 1840, however, in Bunting's third volume of Ancient Music of Ireland, with the note that it was "very ancient, author and date unknown." Hempson was the only harper Bunting heard who played in the ancient style, with long curved fingernails plucking brass strings. The collector greatly admired the playing and repertoire of Denis Hempson, and elderly man when the nineteen-year-old, hired to make some transcriptions at the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792, first met him:

Hempson, who realized the antique picture drawn by Cambrensis and Galilei, for he played with long crooked nails, and in his performance, “the tinkling of the small wires under the deep notes of the bass” was particularly thrilling, took the attention of the Editor with a degree of interest which he never can forget. He was the only one who played the very old—the aboriginal—music of the country; and this he did in a style of such finished excellence as persuaded the Editor that the praises of the old Irish harp in Cambrensis, Fuller, and others, instead of being, as the detractors of the country are fond of asserting, the ill-considered and indiscriminate, were in reality no more than a just tribute to that admirable instrument and its then professors. ... [Bunting, Ancient Irish Music, 1840, Preface p. 3]



Printed sources: O'Sullivan/Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland), 1983; No. 78, pp. 121-122.

Recorded sources:




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