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Gaelic Psalms From Lewis Trad [Import]

Various Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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1. Martyrdom Psalm 84 vv.11 & 12 - Murdina MacDonald
2. Coleshill Psalm 118 vv.15-23 - Murdina MacDonald/Effie MacDonald
3. Stroudwater Psalm 46 vv.1 & 2 - Donald MacLeod
4. Dundee Psalm 103 vv.1& 2 - Norman MacLeod
5. New London Psalm 107 vv.1-4 - Murdo MacLeod
6. Martyrs Psalm 79 vv.3 & 4 - Alasdair Graham

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE! Oct. 14 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
THIS IS SIMPLY THE BEST COLLECTION OF SCOTTISH GAELIC PRESENTING ON CD. MURDINA AND EFFIE MACDONALD (TRACKS 1&2) WERE REGARDED AS BEING SOME OF THE FINEST PSALM SINGERS IN GAELIC SCOTLAND AND THE FIRST 2 SELECTIONS ARE WONDERFUL DISPLAYS OF THEIR TALENT. THE SOUND IS CLEAR AND THE SELECTION OF TUNES APPROPRAITE AND COMPREHENSIVE. A MUST HAVE FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN GAELIC SONG.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primitive and elemental it provokes strong emotions Sept. 3 1998
By Martin Booth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I heard something of this music on the BBC I was so strongly affected by it that I had to track it down. The BBC were not very helpful but Amazon.com came up with the goods as soon as I searched "Gaelic Psalms". My personal favourites are the pieces with more than one voice. The sound is so alien and so lonely.
I can't listen to it without the hair standing up on the back of my neck.
So If you want to feel the open skies of the Outer Hebrides in musical form buy this CD.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, ancient stuff July 21 2004
By John Andrew Deskins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
A Primitive Baptist hymn singer once said to me that she thought all of the old tunes sung in that tradition came from the Outer Hebrides and other Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland. Based on what I knew about Baptist origins in southern Britain, it seemed unlikely. She told me I should just listen to some of the singers from the region. So, I bought this CD.

Well, I don't know if there is much to that sort of speculation, but the similarity between the two traditions is more than a little uncanny. The homophonic chant of a congregation following the leader as he lines out each line sounds at once familiar and other-worldly. To anyone who is familiar with Scottish psalmody, this record will be a shock. Tunes which bear identical names to those found in the Scottish Psalter bear almost no sonic resemblance to them. It may be that the "bones" of the tune have been lost through the weaving melismas that have passed through the oral tradition, but I cannot hear even a hint of the tunes I know by the names "Coleshill" or "Martyrdom."

Listening to this wonderful disc, I could not help wondering if this was the sound that Burns had in mind when he wrote:

"They chant their artless notes in simple guise,

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;

Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise;

Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;

Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;

The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:

Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame"

Compared with Gaelic psalmody, the Lowland tunes are tame!

I love this disc and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the fringes Christian hymnody, or to anyone who has been enchanted by the singing of the Old Regular and Primitive Baptists of Appalachia. The melodies are full of pathos and depth - a far cry from "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST HAVE! Oct. 14 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
THIS IS SIMPLY THE BEST COLLECTION OF SCOTTISH GAELIC PRESENTING ON CD. MURDINA AND EFFIE MACDONALD (TRACKS 1&2) WERE REGARDED AS BEING SOME OF THE FINEST PSALM SINGERS IN GAELIC SCOTLAND AND THE FIRST 2 SELECTIONS ARE WONDERFUL DISPLAYS OF THEIR TALENT. THE SOUND IS CLEAR AND THE SELECTION OF TUNES APPROPRAITE AND COMPREHENSIVE. A MUST HAVE FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN GAELIC SONG.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If the Loch Ness Monster Could Sing ... May 24 2013
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
... it would probably sound like this, the musical recitation of the Psalms in Gaelic by Calvinist congregations on the remote Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. This is not a CD most lovers of Renaissance polyphony or Baroque opera will find artistically appealing. The voices range from vigorous to clamorous; aspects of classical vocal technique and ensemble are deliberately eschewed. As concert material, it doesn't compare at all to the polished chant of professional Corsican ensemble such as Barbara Furtuna - In Santa Pace - but it isn't intended for concertizing. The chant preceptors, Murdina MacDonald and Donald MacLeod, are highly trained and skilled in their specific musical genre. By far the most interesting (and listenable) track on the CD is the fifteen minute duet by Murdina and Effie MacDonald, reciting portions of Psalm 118, using a scarcely recognizable ballad melody called Coleshill.

This repertoire is a living fossil, a sort of musical coelocanth. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Calvinists in Great Britain stripped their churches of ornamentation and their music of self-conscious artistry. Congregations were encouraged to sing with or in place of their choirs. The aim was utter simplicity, intelligibility, and "enthusiasm." The Psalms were translated into ballad meter, to be sung one note per syllable. Historical sources suggest that no effort was made to ensure that everyone sang in the same key, as long as they shouted the words together. That was the format of religious music carried to New England, where it became eventually the basis of "shape-note" singing.

Since many members of Lowlands congregations were illiterate, Scottish Calvinists introduced the role of a preceptor, essentially a choir leader, who would sing out the text to be repeated by the others. When the Psalms were again translated in Gaelic for Highlanders and Hebrideans, problems appeared with the ballad meter, which was utterly foreign to Gaelic poetry and music. It's extremely difficult to pick out any regular meter, let alone ballad meter, in the singing you'll hear on this CD.

The compelling thing about this repertoire is its demonstration that evolution works upon music as much as with DNA. A style of singing that began by explicitly banishing polyphonic ornamentation has evolved, by the mechanism of isolation, into a kind of rudimentary polyphony. It's the same "island effect" that produced dwarf elephants and flightless geese, and it's also a prime example of "convergent" evolution, an independent discovery of polyphony not derived from other repertoires. Singers from the Isle of Lewis were chosen for this recording because, ironically, their style is more "ornamental" than the norm of congregational singing throughout Gaelic-speaking region of Scotland.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing music Dec 19 2012
By C. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is astonishing music, and profoundly moving. John Andrew Deskins' review here linking this sound to Appallachian Baptist songs is bang on, although the Gaelic stuff is more chilling. It's also quite similar in ways to traditional Corsican and Georgian (especially Hamlet Gonashvili) stuff I've heard, although there's probably no direct historical link there - more of an affinity than anything else.
Highly recommended.
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