Simon has been working on the music and traditions of the early Gaelic harp (also known as early clàrsach or early Irish harp) since 1998.
Simon takes his lead from Ann Heymann in making use of the distinguishing features of early Gaelic performance practice, most notably the fingernail techniques, left shoulder playing orientation and the use of unison comhluighe stringing.
Simon studied both physics and archaeology at university and applies this training to the early Gaelic harp, hence his expertise about the physical instrument, and his interest in its design, ergonomics and stringing. He was key to the HHSI commissioning its series of student harps from David Kortier, and continues to work on the specifications and design of each new model. He designs the string regime for each one, based on years of experiments with brass, silver and gold strings. Simon is also regularly consulted by other early Irish harp makers from various countries seeking advice and technical information on both modern reconstructions and the extant historical instruments.
Since 2007 he has played a fully-decorated replica of the 15th Century Queen Mary harp commissioned from Davy Patton in Co. Roscommon. He has released a solo CD, recorded on this new instrument: Clàrsach na Bànrighe. He also plays a ‘student’ copy of the Downhill harp of 1702.
Simon is Hon. Secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland and Assistant Director of its annual summer school, Scoil na gCláirseach.
Da Mihi Manum
Tabhair Dom Do Lámh (Give me your hand) by Rúaidhrí Dall Ó Catháin (c. 1570 – 1650). From Simon’s solo CD, Clàrsach na Bànrighe which was released in February 2008.
Clàrsach ceòl mór. Presentation to the Pìobaireachd Society Conference
This talk was presented to the annual conference of the Pìobaireachd Society, 19th March 2016, at the Birnam Hotel, Dunkeld. More info on the Society at http://www.piobaireachd.co.uk/
“I present an overview of my work trying to bring back to life the historical Gaelic harp traditions of Ireland and Scotland, and how I was led to study pibroch on the harp as part of this.”
For more info and a PDF of the slides, please see: http://clarsach.scot/2016/03/piobaireachd-society-conference.html