Perpetual Motion -
Máirtín O'Connor CDs available online include
Máirtín O'Connor: Two-row button-key accordion
(D/D sharp system)
Produced by Máirtín O'Connor
The accordion is a much-maligned instrument. The late Seán Ó Riada was of the opinion that it was 'designed by foreigners for the use of peasants with neither the time, inclination nor application for a worthier instrument', while Ambrose Bierce, in his 'Devil's Dictionary', called it 'an instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.' Certainly, the term 'accordion' covers a multitude of sins, and exists in many different shapes, sizes, tunings and systems, from piano-keyed and five-row to the simple one-row melodeon. Máirtín's box, the two-row pitched in D/D sharp is one of the earlier, and simpler versions: and one of the most difficult on which to handle the kind of music you will hear on this album. I think Yeat's dictum, that 'rhetoric arises from our quarrel with society, poetry from the quarrel with ourselves,' is appropriate here: the beauty of this music lies in the wit and humour with which Máirtín resolves his quarrel with himself and his instrument. And the resolution is not one of mere technical virtuosity: these pieces are an expression of a distinct personality to which music is as natural as conversation, with all that conversation implies: stories, jokes, yarns and general crack.
Those who come to this music expecting 'Irish Traditional'
might be disappointed; I hope not, since I believe that traditional
musicians have always been open to influences. Máirtín, in his musical
rambles round the world is only extending an attitude which existed
for centuries. Maybe that's why it is called 'Perpetual Motion'
- an ongoing discussion with people, places, tunes and happenings:
an ongoing battle with his box. But I've said enough: let Máirtín
speak for himself.
Fandangos do not have titles as such; I first heard this one while travelling in the Basque country.
Rags to Rock 'n' Roll consists of two old American rag tunes given to me by the fiddler Ruth Dornfield. Garvan's bass playing on the second tune gave rise to the track title
The first tune of the Happy Hours set is called 'Birdie'; it comes from Nashville-born fiddler and tree-surgeon Henry Benagh. Happy Hours was written by Emile Vascher.
The Carnival of Venice was suggested to me by P.J. Curtis
'Moto Perpetuo', from which the album title Perpetual Motion is derived, was written by the legendary Nicolo Paganini (1782 - 1840). On first hearing this piece I was struck by its eccentric nature: hence the slightly eccentric version.
A friend of mine was visiting one day and I asked him to guess where The Ebra Polka came from. 'Germany'. says he. 'No, I'll tell you what...maybe France....no, it's definitely, yes, it must be an Irish tune!' 'Well believe it or not,' says I, 'This tune actually comes from the Ukraine in the Soviet Union.' To which he replied, 'Isn't it amazing the places you find Irish music these days!'
This next tune begins with Emerald Blues a harmless little tune I wrote a few years ago.
Cajun Medley is basically a set of three Cajun tunes. 'The Waterpump' was written by D.L. Menard; I have no title for the second one, and I got the third from a recording given to me by country musician Chris Meehan.
These are two Beau Street Waltzes. French accordion player Jo Privat wrote the first, 'The Mysterious Waltz'. The second is an Italian waltz called 'The Flowers of Venice'. I learned it from an old 78 given to me by the tin-whistle player Seán Ryan.
I learned The Bulgarian Jig whilst rambling through that well-known province of Bulgaria - Lopez island near Vancouver.
Sophie from Sofia is also Bulgarian in origin and came in even more puzzling circumstances. It was learned from an old broken, glued-together 78rpm record while driving through Camden town in the back of an old delivery truck on a frosty night in 1981.
Midnight on the Water, one of my favourite tunes of all time, is old-timey American in origin.
Hound Dog consists of two old-timey American
tunes, 'Angeline the Baker' and 'Barlow Knife', that I learned from
American harmonica player, Matt Gordon.
For details regarding bookings please contact Annagh Music, Annaghdown Pier, Annaghdown, Co. Galway. Phone +353 (0)91 791474; email moco