Céilí by Brett Abigaña

June 1, 2016  |   Posted In



By Brett Abigaña

Céilí (pronounced KAY-lee) in Gaelic means a type of social gathering at which music features prominently. I wanted to try and incorporate the essence of bluegrass music into this piece, specifically the rhythms and inflections of the banjo, which provides a rhythmic and harmonic backdrop for a typical bluegrass band. To that end, running, triadically-oriented 16th notes anchor the harmonic movement throughout the piece. As the piece was being written, it started to edge towards the incorporation of Irish harmonies and melodic inflections. I tend to let the music go where it needs to go, rather than forcing it into a category, so I was only too happy to explore those Irish tendencies, which is clear from the main motive introduced by the woodwinds and tenor pan. Lastly, the idea that each instrument could be featured in an almost improvisatory solo section seemed appropriate, given the heavy reliance on improvisation in both Irish and bluegrass music, but as the solos progressed, they once again shifted focus towards a kind of funk hybrid, wherein the rhythms of funk combined with the Irish melody and the bluegrass harmonies to create the amalgamation you hear.

The title was arrived at with no less a winding path. Originally, the piece was to be called Barndance, after its bluegrass originals. Upon hearing the piece in progress however, my wife Nadine suggested that it sounded more Celtic than bluegrass, so the title was changed to Reel. By the time the various influences and references became clear though, the name had been changed finally to Céilí to represent the combination of styles, influences, and ideas at work in this piece.

Duration: 5 minutes
Grade Level: 4

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Additional information

Weight .1 lbs
Dimensions 0.004 × 11 × 17 in

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