This piece is filled with many emotions that express the sentiment of the Irish. Beginning with the ensemble singing the famous Irish song "Eileen Aroon," Mixed Barley combines the air, "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" with the reel of the same name. The addition of the reel in counterpoint to the air makes the already sad air into a tragic one.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 3 | Duration: 7:45
Clarinet in Bb 1
Clarinet in Bb 2/3
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Trumpet in Bb 1
Trumpet in Bb 2/3
Horn in F 1/2
String Bass (optional)
Timpani, Tam-Tam, Triangle
Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Castanets, Tom Tom, opt. Triangle
Mixed Barley was commissioned by The Mount Saint Charles Academy Music Department, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Marc Blanchette, Music Director. Mr. Blanchette asked me to write some music for his band’s trip to Ireland, the town of Bunclody (County Wexford) specifically, and to produce a piece that his group could play combined with Mr. Geroid Grant’s group while in Ireland. Mr. Blanchette suggested a listening of the tunes The Streams of Bunclody and Eileen Aroon (there is the Eileen Aroon Festival in Bunclody in July). I decided to use these tunes but needed something to tie them together.
I found the tune, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. It was an Irish air concerning the uprising of 1798 and theOulart Hollow (Oulart Hill) confrontation. I then found out there is also a reel titled the same thing.
Barley was the chief medieval crop of this region (County Wexford) so these tunes seemed appropriate.
I didn’t dig up much on why there were two of these tunes – apparently so different in nature, but with the same name – but then I noticed that the reel was traditionally in the key of D Major (a common tin whistle key) and that the air was traditionally in B minor – the exact complement of the major key of D. Not to bore the uninitiated, but this means that the notes are the same in both keys – it’s just that the note that the melodies “rest on” or end up on, is different. So I put the tunes together with a little force and what resulted was what is presented in the first part of this work. I think the addition of the reel in counterpoint to the air makes the already sad air into a tragic one.
Because I’ve mixed the two tunes, the reel and the air, the title Mixed Barley, made sense to me.