SIOBHÁN LONG interview with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh in Irish Times

[From Irish Times: >>>]

“Music is communication,” he says. “With Breanndán , either he or I throw something at the other, and we’re off! We immediately respond, amplifying whatever the other has played. It’s so dynamic playing with him. There’s no fear. We can go to crazy loud places or incredibly quiet places. It’s all an adventure.”

“I don’t really subscribe to this sterilised studio thing at all,” Ó Raghallaigh says. “I don’t think it offers us as humans what we need. What I need from music is the rough edges. I need to feel the grain in the wood. I need to see the dirt under the finger nails. And that’s the approach Breanndán and I took on the record.”

“One of my favourite records is Tony McMahon’s I gCnoc Na Graí/In Knocknagree ,” he says; recounting a conversation he had with MacMahon many years ago. “What’s the difference between playing a tune with heart and without? I remember asking Tony about that, and what he told me was that it has to come from living. You have to live the highs and the lows, and then you put them into your music. That was a huge step: my transition from thinking of great musicians just as musicians, to thinking of great musicians as people, and that the music comes from the entire way they look out of the lenses of their eyes at the world. It’s not just the way they think about music.”

“A lot of artists see the music coming from something beyond themselves,” he says. “For me, that’s even more interesting than harnessing emotions. It’s when you actually subtract yourself from the equation altogether and you’re just trying to let the music flow, without any filters.”

“The material has to be yours,” he enthuses. “If the material isn’t yours, then why are you playing it? The notion of music preservation isn’t interesting to me. You have to be at that point where new ideas are brought into existence. That’s the whole idea behind creativity. For any artist, you want to be at the coalface, the cutting edge where ideas are being formed in music. Where the sparks are coming out of the pick at the face of the rock. That’s the only interesting place to be.”

“Instead of time being a metronome, think of time as a reaction to gravity,” he suggests. “For Breanndán , time is what happens when you’re dancing sets. So it’s not a straight line. It’s rotating. Centrifugal time is completely different to linear time. The second is a completely arbitrary division. It’s fine if you want to make a business meeting, but for walking in the mountains or playing music it’s not very relevant.”

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