The fiddle is the instrument that I grew up with – I’ve been holding a fiddle almost as long as I’ve been standing! In my formative years I travelled across North America and Ireland seeking guidance from top players and teachers, learning tunes, technique, history, and the spiritual freedom that music provides.
The mandolin is a diverse instrument, able to handle both melodic and harmonic/chordal duties in stride. Though around this part of the world most folks think of Bluegrass music when they see the mandolin, it was originally a baroque instrument, and it has cropped up in pop and traditional music all over the world.
In 2012 I got a Swedish nyckelharpa, a beautiful instrument with one-thousand years of history behind it. The nyckelharpa is held across the body like a guitar, but is bowed like a fiddle. Notes are played using a series of keys arranged in three rows along the neck of the instrument. There are sixteen strings in total, though only four are played with the bow. The other twelve are sympathetic strings which ring alongside the bowed strings, lending a reverberating quality to the instrument. I’m thrilled to be one of a slowly growing number of North American nyckelharpa players, and the only nyckelharpa player in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Irish Traditional Music
My primary musical interest is the traditional music of Ireland, specifically older styles of playing. I have been fortunate to study in Ireland and abroad with some of the greatest masters of the old tradition. Unfortunately, several of these players are no longer with us, and I’m honored to be a part of their living legacy.
Other European Folk Music
Though the music of Ireland is my main focus, the dance music and airs of other European nations are just as fascinating. From other Celtic lands such as Scotland and Brittany to vastly different traditions from places such as Sweden or Hungary, there is a great wealth of traditional music to be found across Europe.
I’m always exploring other styles of music, from Japanese min’yō to American ragtime, Bach to Gershwin. Music is a tremendous lens through which to explore various cultures and histories, and as humans we can all share in our collective cultural heritage.