Teaching flute in the week following Easter at the Coolea flute gathering; participation in the Saturday concert and giving a paper:
From R E M to R A M
A reflection on fantasy, fulfillment and contradictions over the course of Vallely’s near half-century Traditional music journey from the elemental dreamtime when he started on the flute to the mincing machine of the digital information age and commodity music. The paper considers the gradual dissipation of the exuberance of the earlyish revival years where music was considered a gift, a musician always had to be bought a drink and every session was coloured by anticipation and amazement. Learning to play the flute amid the wonder was a pleasurable frustration: for even though the instrument was scarce and mentors far away, tantalizing tunes could leak unexpectedly out of the wireless, and a 78 record might be found in an antique shop. A pragmatic formality crept in with the demand for flute teaching, absence of information demanded a tutor book in tandem with the times, and the tumble towards the Celtic Tiger foddered by new value on traditions generated opportunity: travel, academic scrutiny and the rational format of the Traditional music dictionary. But is this our very own Medieval golden goose? Have we put it in a barrel, refining it from seasonal celebration as Christmas dinner to an elite, culturally immobile foie gras? IS it just ‘entertainment’, career and business? Or is it all no more than nice stuff that survived from an earlier age, but that we should have let develop laissez faire? These questions, the opportunities and imperfections, are looked at here through the eyes of a flute player drawing on the past to appreciate the present and speculate for the future.