THE ROAD TO BUNESSAN AND A FANTASY ON THE HYMN TUNE, BUNESSAN


Road to Bunessan The Road to Bunessan NOTE AS ALWAYS, TEXT IMAGES AND MUSIC ALL COPYRIGHT COMMENT: Just a note to explain the “Bunessan” piece. Many of you will recognize the tune sung with the lyrics, “Morning Has Broken.” Many of you may also know that “Bunessan” is an 19th century hymn tune of that name with the original lyrics in Gaelic and translated as “Child In A Manger.” Bunessan is a village on the Isle of Mull, part of the Inner Hebrides, offshore the west coast mainland of Scotland. It is just a few miles east of Fionnphort, the hamlet where the ferry for the Isle of Iona can be boarded (and from which a short boat trip will take you to Staffa where Mendelssohn found inspiration for his ” Hebrides Overture” {Fingal’s Cave}). It so happens that my great grandfather, Neil MacCormick, was born in 1836 on a croft on Iona. He lived most of his life on Mull and was among other activities, choirmaster of two churches. His cousin, Mary M. MacDonald, daughter of a local minister, wrote the Gaelic lyrics to the hymn. There is a memorial to her in the village. Some family members believe that my great grandfather wrote the melody. However, recently I found evidence that he may have simply notated the melody, a very old tune, for use by choir members. I am still pursuing the tune’s origins. My rendition of “Bunessan” was created as I considered the possibility of his role. Perhaps that explains why I have taken a small liberty in changing two notes in the fourth measure. It just seems to me a more satisfying route for the tune.

This track also exemplifies my creative process. The piece was ‘composed’ on the keyboard at one go: what may appear to be dramatic pauses are in fact my wondering where the heck I should take it next. I refer you  to the essays of Professor Harris.
http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/MusicPapers/OnImprov.html

(Apologies to those who prefer non-discordant sounds.)

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