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Here are reviews of Glenn Weiser's book, "Celtic Harp Music of Carolan and Others for Solo Guitar," that have appeared in a number of publications.   Click here to order.

Celtic Harp Music of Carolan and Others For Solo Guitar
Arranged by By Glenn Weiser
Centerstream Publications

"Traditional Irish harp music sounds ravishing on acoustic guitar. You could spend a lifetime tracking down tunes and adapting them to six string-there are certainly worse ways to while away the hours-but if you prefer playing to sleuthing, you can thank Glenn Weiser for collecting 45 of the finest harp melodies (28 composed by the Ireland's beloved Turlough O' Carolan) and arranging them for intermediate fingerstyle players.
    "Irish harp melodies are essentially diatonic. In preparing his arrangements, Weiser approaches the task of adding bass lines and inner voices with respect and skill. He acknowledges the ongoing controversy that surrounds harmonizing these tunes according to classical rules, since this can dramatically change the the music's spirit. Weiser's results should please both classical players and folk purists,and introduce this rich tradition to a new generation of guitarists. Once you discover these scintillating melodies, you'll see why they've survived for centuries"
                                                              -Andy Ellis for Guitar Player, June 1996

"Turlough O'Carolan was an Irish harper and composer who died in 1738. His ability to meld distincively Irish melodies with elements of classical Italian Baroque music produced a body of work so populat that Celtic bands continue to record his music to this day.
    "The difficulties in successfully adapting harp music to the guitar makes one admire the effort Mr. Weiser must have put forth in order to produce such a comprehensive work. To be able to highlight so well the sharp contrast between the heavily Italian Baroque influenced composition "Mrs. Poer" and the ancient Celtic style of "Carolan's Farewell To Music" is testmony to the author's abilities as a transcriber and arranger.
   " In all, 27 of the book's 45 tunes are O' Carolan's compositions. One that is not, "Eileen Aroon," is perhaps the the most beauiful and famous of all Irish airs. So beautiful in fact, that Handel said he would have preferred to have been the author of "Eileen Aroon" than all operas and oratorios! Now the nature of this piece is that it could easily have been dragged down by a heavy handed arrangement. But with this tune, as well as all the others in the book, Mr. Weiser deftly balances the symetry of simplicity and technical form to expose the grace and elegance inherent in each.
    "It should be noted, the book uses standard notation as well as tablature but does not indicate chord changes.
    "Mr. Weiser is also the author of "The Minsrel Boy", an excellent collection of fiddle tunes and airs arranged for the guitar. He obviously loves this music and by the standard he's acheived with both "The Minstrel Boy" and "Celtic Harp Music Of Carolan And Others For Solo Guitar" he has paid high homage to it. Recommended."
                                                               -Acoustic Musician, November 1996

"There are already some excellent books of traditional music in solo guitar arrangements, but Celtic Harp Music of Carolan and Others for Solo Guitar is outstanding. The author, Glenn Weiser, is an Irish-American guitarist, currently based in Albany. He has studied classical guitar and ragtime finger-picking (he also plays banjo, mandolin and harmonica).

"For Celtic Harp Music, he has drawn together an impressive total of 44 tunes: 27 by Carolan, and the remainder drawn from sundry Scottish and Irish sources. The transcriptions are on the whole quite simple to play. Weiser describes the standard as "mostly intermediate". However, occasional pieces are very tricky – ‘Morgan Magan’, for instance, or ‘Carolan’s Farewell to Music’. Fingerings are always clear and helpful, and everything is also written out in tablature.

"He has opted to use standard tuning throughout, with the occasional drop-D, "so the book might appeal to the classical guitarist as well as the steel-string fingerstylist". This strikes me as a sensible decision – too often, guitar books impose quirky tunings that must put many players off.

"In his introduction, Weiser says: "Since Irish harp music was first notated in the late eighteenth century there has been a contrétemps over whether or not this kind of music can be successfully harmonised according to the old classical rules. In general, I think it can, as long as the settings are not too elaborate, and are diatonic." His transcriptions fully bear out this argument – they always sound natural, keeping within simple harmonic frameworks. And most importantly, melodies take precedence and are not interrupted by fussy accompaniments.

"It’s almost futile to pick out particular tunes for mention, since the general standard here is so high. However, two which particularly caught my eye are Carolan’s ‘George Brabazon’ (some may find the B-section tricky, but it’s well worth the effort) and ‘The Coolin’ (a charmingly simple arrangement). ‘Carolan’s Concerto’ also works well – I’ve encountered it in several other arrangements, and it always seems to sit naturally on the guitar. Each piece in the book is prefaced with a brief, useful note on sources and origins.

"Celtic Harp Music should prove an invaluable resource for traditional guitarists, and may also attract classical guitarists looking to broaden their repertoire. A fine book.
                                                            -Alex Moffatt for Irish Music, March 1999

"Glenn Weiser's book is classical in its orientation and layout. The arrangements are somewhat complex, providing plenty of harmonies and counterpoints to the familiar melodies. The book contains 28 Carolan compositions, and another 18 traditional Irish and Scottish tunes (by composers such as Rory Dhall O'Cahan and Thomas Connellan). All of the classic Carolan planxties are here, and then some. The book uses both tablature and standard notation, and it definitely has the nicest layout of the three, with clear, large print."
                                                        -Ivan Emke for Dirty Linen, June/July 1996
Celtic guitar is one of the more popular styles amongst fingerstyle players. I would venture to guess that the reason is because this music is so melodic that its appeal is unavoidable.

Glenn Weiser's book of Celtic music is a virtual gold mine of 45 great intermediate Celtic arrangements. If you've seen other Celtic arrangements, you've probably noticed that most are done in open tunings. The problem that creates with many of these is that to play a bunch of these, you need to keep changing tunings. So the great thing about this book is that Glenn did all these arrangements is standard tuning or dropped D. The thing I likeabout this is that I can create medleys of tunes quite easily because of this tuning consistency. All tunes provide both standard notation and tablature, and to help gauge the tempo of each piece, a metronome setting is also provided. What's also nice is that Glenn provide a little of the history behind each tune and as you read through each one, you get a real feel for the times in which they were written. If you like Celtic music and your playing is at an intermediate level, you'll enjoy playing the music in this book.
          -Paul Kucharchsy, May 1999, from the Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar website.

See also: Reviews of The Minstrel Boy
Celtic Encyclopedia: Fingerstyle Guitar Edition
Irish and American Fiddle Tunes for Harmonica
Back To Celtic Guitar Books


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