Tag Archives: book

For Your Ears, Heart and Soul: Leaca Bán – Na Tonnta

Posting and sharing with you, my most recent music production project, the beautiful Leaca Bán by 5-piece, traditional Irish crossover group, Na Tonnta.

Na Tonnta
Na Tonnta

Introducing Na Tonnta (L-R as above): Daniel ‘Hearthrob’ Whelan, Ellie ‘Ellington’ J McGinley, Sinéad ‘Brings her own teabags’ O’Malley, Ciara ‘I♥ Beoga’ Moley and Fiachra ‘Figgy’ Meek. The group met while studying Music in DkIT together and bonded through their love of traditional Irish music, popular music, tea, biscuits and cakes!

My journey with Na Tonnta began in September 2014. I was searching for a musically-new band to introduce to the recording studio and collaborate with for my final music production project at DkIT, resulting in three songs- one being the core and most-polished production.

Approaching Na Tonnta was an easy task. It was actually perfect timing! I already knew Sinéad, their flute and whistle player from the Norway erasmus trip in 2013 and I worked with Ellie, their vocalist and fiddle player on my previous production project, “Crystal Hearts” feat. Fiona McErlane by Audio_Girl | Free Listening on SoundCloud.

I knew I wanted to carry forward my love for traditional Irish music while bringing it into a contemporary production and I also knew Na Tonnta were a hard-working, creative and driven group from my Facebook stalking since they formed in October 2013!

Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014
Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014

Leaca Bán began in the rehearsal room. Sinéad introduced the idea to the group with the beautiful, haunting traditional tune, 250 To Vigo, accompanied by accordion player, Ciara. I sat, mesmerised by the performance- the beautiful tone of the B flat whistle, the rhythm of the tune, the sombre accordion, gently accompanying the haunting tune. The hairs on my arms stood and I knew instantly that this was a tune I wanted to be a part of. I could already hear our studio recording in my mind’s ear!

What happened next lifted my spirits even further. There was a lyrical idea. In fact, there was more than just an idea- there was a theme, a mood, an atmosphere and a poem! A vintage book was produced- a little blue book with yellow pages, about to be tossed out from a local school library where Sinéad worked. For some reason unknown to me, Sinéad opened the book and there was a beautiful poem at the beginning. The Lights of Leaca Bán by Alice Cashel is an old book intended for secondary school children but the poem simply titled Leaca Bán, found at the begnning of the book, is a literary work of beauty.  It was suggested that Ellie fit the tune to the words- amazingly, it worked like a dream. Ellie suddenly started singing the poem and it was just right.

Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room
Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room

By Christmas a humble demo which consisted of a vocal, fiddle, tin whistle and accordion was recorded and then my audio fun began. What I already had was a beautiful tune which was deeply Irish and could hold up on its own with such a small ensemble- how about adding drums? Synthesisers? Guitars? More vocals? How big could we go?! How big did I dare?!

Well, here’s the final production.  Listen for yourself.


Hitchhiking the Galaxy For The First Time!

If you’ve been following my tweets or been in my presence at all since January, then you’re more than aware of my new-found hoopy obsession with the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy!

I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this absolute treasure at this point in my life! My little sister urged me to read the books years ago but I shrugged her off, thinking she was a mad hippy but it was in a moment of sheer assignment-induced-panic before Christmas that a question was put to me in a calm, softly spoken voice; “What is the one thing we never, ever do according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”…. “DON’T PANIC!”. Okay, seeing as it was mentioned that I should probably check it out (following my embarrassed, sheepish grin), I went and bought The Trilogy of Four in my local Waterstones the next day as a Christmas present to myself!

Love, love, LOVE
I’ve lost myself in the universe! (what a wonderful feeling!)

Hitchhiker’s is exactly what my life has been missing this whole time! It took an ultra-cool, hoopy frood to make me realise that!

Don’t you just hate it when younger siblings turn out to be right?!

I haven’t finished reading it yet, I’ve been pacing myself! I have a track record of racing through books and repeat-reading old ones over and over! (I also have an insane amount of books I’m dipping in and out of!)

I just love this zany universe Douglas Adams has created. I love the various worlds, the peoples, the histories attached to them, the technologies! I particularly love Zaphod Beeblebrox, he’s such a larger than life character, he’s pretty much been my hero from the first moment I laid eyes on him!

I’m crazy to have a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and have a conversation about life, the universe and everything with any like-minded frood!

I'll have one please! ;)
I’ll have one please! 😉

And after we’re done drinking (I’m sure we’ll have done 6 impossible things due to the fact our brains have been smashed out!), we can head off to Milliways for a bite to eat at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and continue the madness!

Let's go!
Let’s go!

I’m also interested to hear the sonic greatness of the loudest band in the Galaxy- Disaster Area, a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones… \m/

I’ve also been reading The Salmon of Doubt, the little stories are tying in nicely with HHGTTG 🙂 (Like “Tipples” where Adams tells of his favourite drinks, G+T being his overall favourite nicely coincides with the curious fact that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonnyx, or gee-N-N-T’N-ix, or jinnond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand or more variations on the same phonetic theme, according to the Guide.)

The Salmon of Doubt is an excellent read...
The Salmon of Doubt is an excellent read…

I have watched the latest film version of HHGTTG, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen and to be honest, I expected it to be a lot worse! I really liked Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent and Alan Rickman (Marvin) was truly wonderful 🙂 Of course my heart goes to Sam Rockwell (Beeblebrox), how could one not adore him?! It’s that winning smile! 😉

Zaphod Beeblebrox serves up Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Ford Prefect int he movie :)
Zaphod Beeblebrox serves up Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters with Ford Prefect in the movie 🙂

My newfound obsession has of course sparked a renewed interest in the Guide in my family, I never knew my mother was so cool and actually read the books before I was even born! My sister has loaned me the original tv series on DVD to watch which I must get round to!

I’ve been chasing up the original radio series after reading stories on the BBC website about how the sound effects were created and the larks that were had during recording. For the life of me, I can’t find that link now! I was going to purchase the BBC box set on Amazon (it’s selling for a froody price at the moment!) but someone is going to loan me the original series on vinyl after Easter! 😉

The Guide has really given me a new outlook on life, the universe and everything, if you haven’t read it and you’re partial to quirkyness, insanity and larger than life characters, I suggest you get yourself a copy, stick out your thumb and start hitchhiking on the nearest spaceship you find!