Featuring Martin Hayes on the fiddle and Mary MacNamara on the concertina, this is a vintage clip dating back to 1981 from the RTE TV archives. In the Irish traditional music context, musicians from East Clare tend to play jigs, reels and hornpipes at a slower pace and with minimal ornamentation while putting more emphasis on the melody and internal rhythm of the tunes. But I believe this particular performance of two traditional reels transcends the questions of regional style or tradition in general. It has more to do with genuine engagement with the music. In 2004, Martin Hayes asked:
Is it traditional or acceptable to talk about the Zen of fiddle playing? Well, I would argue that it is. How do we talk of heart, of draíocht, of feeling, of a deep spiritual meaning in music? […] I once read a book called Zen and the Art of Archery. In many ways it reflects, in a universal sense, what it takes to engage in an act of performance, how one must truly engage in the most committed manner possible. That kind of thought has been very important to me. It is important that what is offered from a performance is something that truly reaches the heart of people, that it moves people in a deep way.
This sense of engagement, of draíocht and of feeling for the music are already in evidence in this particular 1981 clip. A true master class from two musicians in their early twenties.
[…] the mid-1990s, East Clare fiddler Martin Hayes and Chicago-born guitar player Dennis Cahill have struck the most interesting musical partnership. […]