The All-Knowing Salmon/Noogleshifty


I’ve always been interested in playing different styles of music on the standard classical flute and have been playing Irish music for over 20 years. It started when I heard Matt Molloy playing wooden flute on “James Galway and The Chieftains” and after failing to find a decent wooden flute to buy (it’s much easier to get a good quality one these days, but back then it was very hard to find a good one without joining a seemingly endless waiting list) I started trying to play Irish music on my silver flute. What followed was lots of listening, experimenting, lessons with Sarah Allen & Brian Finnegan (From the band Flook!) and attending the excellent Folkworks summer school in Durham (thanks to my school friend & fiddle player Pete Lyons suggesting we go). I ended up studying for my Masters in Irish Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance at the University of Limerick on the west coast of Ireland.

What started out as trying to make the silver flute sound like a wooden flute, has led me to develop a style of playing traditional music on the silver flute which is very enjoyable to play. It has enabled me to write and record some music which I’m very happy with. I hope you’ll enjoy listening to the albums and playing the pieces in this series.

This piece is perhaps less obviously inspired by Irish music than the others in the series, and I’ve kept it simple by not including any special techniques – it didn’t feel like it needed anything more.

About the Piece

This piece was not originally intended to be notated for other people to play… I wrote these melodies over 20 years ago, and in 2005 Tom and I went to a studio in Madrid to record an album of original and re-harmonised traditional material. It was intended to be a promo CD to get us some gigs, but turned into something we’re both very proud of. Reviewers loved it, although some were confused by the mix of jazz and Celtic influences – I’ve always thought of it as coming direct from traditional music, but ignoring the boundaries of the style when we took off on improvised flights of fancy…

Ever since it’s release flute players have got in touch wanting to play the pieces themselves, and I’ve finally started to finish off these transcriptions. Huge thanks have to go to Lee Westwood who originally transcribed the whole Madrid Sessions album by ear! I wasn’t ready at the time to go edit it into a finished score, but over the last year tom and I have worked to create accurate and (hopefully) clear flute & piano parts, based on Lee’s original work.

Also huge thanks to Gareth McLearnon who has been playing some of these pieces all over the world from my terrible half-finished versions, and such a staunch advocate of my music.

“The All-Knowing Salmon” was inspired by a family holiday to Ireland. The Irish Myth was written on a T-Shirt in a monastery gift shop… “Noogleshifty” was inspired by the great Scottish band Shooglenifty – go and check out their albums! It was originally recorded in a different arrangement on the album “Wish Hill” by my old Celtic Jazz-Funk band All Jigged Out.

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