Here is the song of Skellig
Michael. I have included some comments on natural pitch below.
I wrote this tune after a visit to Skellig Michael, which is rock about
5 miles out into the Altlantic Ocean off the coast of Kerry in the south-west
end of Ireland. The monastic cells on the rock are preserved to this day,
even though the monks left about eight hundred years ago.
Here is a picture of Skellig Michael taken on the day of my visit.
My comments on the tune in relation to my natural notes. As a fiddle player, I
have always had a natural inclination to play "out of tune". However as
I spent many hours playing in orchestras and folk bands I realised that I
could also play in tune, provided I could first hear and pitch to the other
instruments. As a physicist I have started to analyse my natural sense of
pitch and compare the results against the standard chromatic scale as determined
by my tuner.
My analysis shows me that in the first bar of the above tune I
anchor my opening arpeggio on the first note E natural (330 Hz), then run up to the
final semibreve (C sharp) and play it very sharp with a dying wail. The note that
I use on my fiddle appears to come from the seventh harmonic of E at 577 Hz. By
contrast the note C sharp is 554 Hz and D is 587 Hz. Thus the note I use is
somewhere between C sharp and D. If you have a keyboard or fixed pitch instrument
such as a fretted guitar you simply wont be able to play the tune the way I want
to play it.
In the second stanza I find that I again depart from standard pitch. Although I
am happily playing back in tune I make sure that the C sharp semibreve in the
second bar is not sharp, then play the D semibreve in the third bar deliberately
flat, followed by a very flat E semibreve in the fourth bar. The E quaver that
begins the fifth bar is back to standard pitch (this can be an open string on the
violin and mine is always tuned as sharp as I can get away with). In this fashion
tension builds up during the second, third and fourth bars of the second stanza and
a release occurs as the fifth bar opens.
Did I compose this tune? I can't say, I just went to the rock and tried to
sense the atmosphere of the place and then later that day I sat down and tried to
find a tune that suited my feelings. I was going to try and find chords to
accompany the tune but chords don't come easily to fiddle players, especially when
unsual tunes are involved. I am happy for anyone to copy and reset the tune
provided they allow me the natural right to continue playing my tune under the
name of Skellig Michael.
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