The traditional music of the world would die without risk-takers like Martin Hayes

Originally published at:


Quite lovely–and not at all unfamiliar to anyone who has been paying attention to, say, the Kronos Quartet or the Modern Mandolin Quartet over the last few decades. One of my recent acquisitions is “The Songs of Liliuokalani” by the Galliard Quartet, and a while back the Rose Ensemble released “Nā Mele Hawai’i: A Rediscovery of Hawaiian Vocal Music.”

Nevertheless, the post’s headline is clickbaity. My experience suggests that musicians, whether classically schooled or “folk” or jazz, are constantly listening to each other and playing together and stealing ideas and tunes. (Then there’s the example of much European composing since the late 19th century through Bartók and Gershwin and beyond.)

But running traditional music through the classical system is not the only sustaining mechanism–I’ve witnessed the revitalization of several traditions (Hawaiian, klezmer, Appalachian old-time, African-American string-band) through the activities of young players who have connected with elders and other reservoirs. Sometimes it’s straight preservation-of-tradition, sometimes it’s “modernization” or adaptation or hybridization. And thanks to recordings, it has been possible to recover earlier sounds (which was one of the drivers of the folk revival of the 1960s).

Wow, loved it! Thanks for posting that, Seamus.

I’ve always loved Irish trad, but I’m not well-versed, nor am I well-versed in classical. So maybe that’s something to be said for naiveté, as I didn’t have too many preconceptions. I just thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had thought I would open another tab to work in, and just listen to it, but I couldn’t stop watching the musicians as they did what they did. So I would say that’s a very successful video, as well.

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