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Music and the Celtic Otherworld Paperback – December 15, 1999
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"...an authoritative and accessible book on the spiritual dimension of music". --The Scotsman newspaper, Edinburgh, Mar 2000
"... a solid introduction to an interdisciplinary topic that will be of interest to scholars of Celtic culture, folklore..and music. Recommended." --Library Journal, Teresa M. Neff (Boston University), May 2000
"Dr Ralls methodically explores the tradition with many interesting side-lights; the bibliography ensures that the reader has access to an extensive source" --Rilko Journal, London, Spring 2000 issue
From the Author
This book, covering mainly early medieval Ireland and some Scottish material, is Part One of what is hoped to be a larger series.
Top customer reviews
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What truly put me off the book, however, was a lapse in scholarship. One of the most interesting accounts of music changing reality is in "Tain Bo Froech," "The Cattle Raid of Froech." In this story, available in translation so ignorance is not an excuse, Froech was a renowned warrior whose mother was one of the Sithe, the people of the otherworld. When he went to woo Findabar, the daughter of the king, his aunt, Boand, gave him a marvelous retinue from the Sithe. This included three harpers, the sons of Boand and Uaithne, the harper of the chief of the gods. They were named after the strains of music that Uaithne played as they were being born, Sad Music, Happy Music, and Sleep Music.
When they played for the king's household, the decorations in the form of snakes and birds and hounds in gold and silver on the harps came alive and moved among the people. Twelve men died of sorrow.
All this, including their birth, is in the story but the author says that "the story describes how a talented mortal harper summoned spirit-images" of the animals. She quotes one paragraph but has no idea of the context in which it is placed. Poor scholarship!