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You're not going to find actual music files here; sorry. I respect copyright; my wife's career depends on her making a living from her artistic endeavours.

What you will find here are mentions of my favourite music, what has inspired me, made me think, perhaps brought me to tears from the sheer beauty of the songs... and hopefully you'll find inspiration in this wonderful music too. Don't expect to find too many mainstream music recommendations here. My tastes are best described as varied and eclectic.

In the past, I have watched World Music on LinkTV a lot (see their store here), but sadly they have relegated that program to extremely awkward times for those of us on the US east coast (as of mid-2007, when I wrote this). And barring a moment of insanity where I might consider building a MythTV box, time shifting is not really an option for me. That said, I remember the program being a great way of finding music that's really popular in countries all over this planet, not what some large mega-corp wants you to buy. (Note: thanks to Michal for her kind words; I hope her concerns win out in the political battle behind the scenes at Link TV; while I agree absolutely with their message [Yes, Amy, I do!] you've got to get people's attention first before you can win them over. Music is the way to do that.)

So, what sorts of music do I like? Let's define some categories: Irish/Celtic Music, World Music, Popular, and Classical.

Irish/Celtic Music

At the risk of overlapping with some of the Irish Thingies, here's a short list of some of the Irish and Celtic music that has been most influential in my life:

  • Seán Ó'Riada, founder of Ceoltóirí Chualann (whence the Chieftains originally came), had several albums released in the 1960's that my Mother liked; despite the use of a harpsichord (which I gather he used because getting an authentic Cláirseach or Irish harp was problematic), these had a strong influence on me, especially the music written by Turlough O'Carolan.

  • The Chieftains, the quintessential Traditional Irish Music band, came directly from Ceoltóirí Chualann. It is their music more than any other that was the engine behind the revival of the genre in Ireland throughout the 60's and 70's. I've seen them live twice, once at an outdoor festival near Lisdoonvarna in 1979, and more recently in 2007 at the Paramount in Charlottesville. They have been playing a long time!

  • Planxty built further on what the Chieftains had done, and took Irish music several steps closer to what I think of as World Music. They used instruments that had not been associated with Irish music before: bouzouki, mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, guitar; as well as the usual Uilleann (elbow) pipes, tin whistle, and bodhrán.

  • Horslips; definitely the other end of the spectrum. One can argue that they did something none of the other groups mentioned above could: make Irish music relevant to the young generation, who were for the most part more interested in tuning in to BBC Radio 1 or Radio Luxembourg, or even the pirate "Radio Caroline" (yes, I listened to all those, though my favourite was definitely the Alan Freeman show on BBC Radio 2; that had a huge influence on my musical tastes). But back to the Horslips: they mixed Irish Traditional and Rock music, and were perhaps the first Celtic Rock band ever. Isn't Dearg Doom the second Irish National Anthem?

  • Gaelic Storm is an interesting group with a lead singer who's my namesake. This is one band I have not yet seen in concert, but friends of mine have and bought me two of their CDs (autographed too, direct from Patrick Murphy to Patrick Murphy!). The lyrics of some of their songs are certainly memorable (the Johnny Jump Up, Johnny Tarr, the Piña Colada in a Pint Glass). Maybe they'll swing by Charlottesville one of these days.

World Music

It was with shock and sadness that I learned of the senseless death of Lucky Dube recently. If you haven't seen his "The way it is" video, try to catch it (on Link TV or elsewhere). It's sad... the world will be a poorer place for his loss.

This is based more or less on what I've either heard/seen on Link TV's World Music, or bought from their online store.

  • Leahy, the (very large) family band from Ontario, Canada, came to my attention when I first started watching Link TV, along with Hevia (see below) and a few others. It was The Call to Dance video that made an impression on me. Their music emphasizes the violin (fiddle by any other name!) and a Celtic tradition, while still incorporating elements of popular/rock music that they no doubt grew up with. When I saw they were going to do a concert in Charlottesville (at the Paramount Theatre) a few years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to go. They are phenomenal in concert, and I'll go see them again without any hesitation whenever they decide to come back to town (alas, they're coming back but I have a conflict; ARGH!). I have all three of their albums, and I'm looking forward to the fourth.

  • You can't mention Leahy without also bringing up Natalie McMaster (she's married to Donnell, the lead fiddle player of Leahy). Having heard her on a Thistle & Shamrock episode on NPR, and seen one video of hers on Link TV, I thought she might be worth going to see. I was right. I've never seen anyone with so much energy on stage, and she's as good a fiddler as I've heard (definitely gives her husband a run for his money there!). And that was when she was about 5 months pregnant too...

  • Loreena McKennitt is hard to characterise. She is probably the quintessential World Music artist, with a quite strong emphasis on Celtic music. I was introduced to her music by a former colleague at work (thanks, Rob!) and subsequently bought The Mask and Mirror CD. Ethereal, hauntingly beautiful, and unforgettable.

  • Cazador by Pistolera (an American band; song in Spanish). They are so right...

  • Nwahulwana by Wazimbo (Mozambique). This is such a beautiful song. Leaves me speechless.

  • Au diable les Avocets (To hell with Lawyers) by Les Charbonniers de l'enfer (the little engineers from hell; I love that name!), all the way from Quebec. Who can argue with them...

  • Mann Ke Manjeere (Rhythms of the Mind) by Shubha Mudgal (India). Based on the true story of India's first Woman Truck Driver; try and catch the video on LinkTV; it's inspirational.

  • Many songs by Alboka (Basque), including Trapatan, Txinparta (can you hear the Celtic overtones?) and about half a dozen more tracks from their Lorius album (I ended up buying 9 of the tracks!). Fascinating instruments and percussion from an intriguing culture.

  • Prendi L'Onda (Catch the Wave) by Fiamma Fumana (Italy). As my colleague Michele Z. would say, they speak the one true language ;-) I'm intrigued by their use of (bag)pipes.

  • Aicha (or is it Aisha?) by Khaled and Faudel (Algeria/France). Wonderful song. There's also a version by Outlandish (and while I can't stand rap, I can appreciate what they did in their version of it, also their Guantanamo video rocks.

  • Gamen and Vanner och Frander by Garmarna (Sweden). How does she stay so still among all that rocking, moshing, etc? Underneath the theatrics, you'll find some bittersweet and haunting folk songs from Scandinavia.

  • Urker is a group that strikes me as the "Horslips" of Kazakhstan; they play local music with a mix of traditional and modern instruments, and the result is amazing. Check out their "Tugan Elim" video; you may not understand the words, but the pictures tell an unmistakable story.

  • I'm intrigued by songs such as Dinata by Eleftheria Arvanitaki (Greece) but haven't investigated further — yet.

  • Hevia, an artist hailing from the Celtic area known as Galicia (the northwest corner of Spain, just above Portugal) is quite the virtuoso at the pipes (though Carlos Nuñez might be his equal), came out with a video of his Busindre Reel some years ago. It really caught my attention, and is probably the single video that caused me to watch Link TV's World Music program on a regular basis (when it was on in the early evenings).

  • I have to think that Tiken Jah Fakoly has it right when he sings "Le Pays va Mal". That could apply to quite a few countries...

  • For those who like the cross-cultural side of things, three recommdations:

    • Ah Ya Albi by Hakim (Egypt) and Olga (Puerto Rico). Watch Hakim vanish... a great mix (if they'd just drop the rap part)

    • Nari Nari by Hashim Abbas (Egypt) and... who is that superb Soprano from India? The video features the building that my former colleague Ketan D. once called "the most beautiful building on Earth" (the Taj Mahal).

    • Amadou and Mariam, a blind couple from Senegal (I think) have a wonderful video done in collaboration with a French artist (whose name I can't recall) called Senegal Fast Food. Definitely worth a watch/listen.

  • On the lighter side, beware of those darts in Finnish pubs with tractor-driving farmers performing bizarre dance rituals (oh, forget it, you have to see the video!) The band is JPP, and the tune is Puikkoristikk (Cross of Sticks).

  • And, just for badness (as Paddy Moloney would say), how about a dose of Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello? All your sanity and wit, they will all vanish, I promise; it's just a matter of time!

Popular (and other weird) Music

Much of this was inspired by the late Alan Freeman's weekend show on BBC Radio 2 in the 1970's.

  • Yes
  • Genesis
  • Pink Floyd
  • Tangerine Dream
  • Midnight Oil (I have the "Diesel and Dust" CD)
  • The Clash
  • UB40

Classical Music

  • Beethoven, in particular his Piano Concertos; #4 and #5 are my favourites.
  • Bach, I have only scraped the surface of what he produced, but enjoy the Brandenberg Concertos.
  • Vivaldi's Four Seasons is a classic.
  • Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, a long time favourite.
  • Ravel's Bolero of course; think "Torvill and Dean".

[Powered by Apache!] Patrick P. Murphy
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA