Updated Feb 2, 2024
Original Celtic tunes by Ryan Thomson
Shake Out the Raincoat: This melody popped into my head one day and I sat down and
learned it quickly on the fiddle. The name came much later, after I was sitting in my
truck during a driving rain and listening to the sound of the rain against the rhythm of
the windshield wipers. I wrote it as an Irish reel in Ceili dance style, but used a rainy day
rhythm in the final recording.
Tally the Profits: This melody was inspired by noticing how blues guitar melodies affect
me emotionally in a similar way as certain Irish jigs. I was feeling blues but writing the
tune in jig style. After several hours of polishing up my playing of the tune I pondered
the fact that monetary compensation for my hard work might be slow coming, but that
the true satisfaction of composition is in the workings of the creative process itself!
March to Culloden: This melody was the result of my strong reaction to a BBC film
reenacting the battle of Culloden in which the Scottish Highland Clans made their last major stand against a larger and more powerfully equipped British army. With little food and rest, they marched with proud determination to the site of the battle to face defeat by the British cannons. Several of my ancestors were present at this famous battle.
Nana's Birthday Polka: Soon after writing this tune I played it for my mother while on a trip to California. She liked it, so I dedicated to her after my family celebrated her birthday during her visit to New Hampshire. Its written in Irish Kerry Polka style.
Dougie's Delights: My Celtic band practiced every week at my friend Regina's home. She
owns a large fluffy dog with a goofy personality. Dougie the dog attended all of our practices and I have a vision fixed in my mind of Dougie bounding out doors during a hot summer day and leaping high in the air to plop down in a cool shallow pond. As the splashing subsided, he oriented himself towards the watching people, and settled into the mud. With only his head above the water like a periscope he reminded me of a submarine surveying a coastline. This lively reel has a French Canadian feel.
Jig for Joe Leary: This tune is dedicated to my friend Joe Leary, a master of many styles on the violin, who always kids me when I see him, about having written a tune for me, and then proceeds to improvise one on the spot! Here's one for youJoe! Its in an Irish Ceili dance style with a relaxed beat.
Ryan's Trip to Tarrytown: I wrote this reel immediately after returning home from the
annual Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann convention in Tarrytown, New Jersey. The Irish dancing and music was wonderfully good, and the little strands of Celtic melody filling my head on the long drive home began forming into a powerful reel with a Cape Breton feel.
Dark Horse: Dark Horse took longer to write than most tunes. I worked on this reel inspurts for two or three days, and wove into the melody a combination of southern Appalachian sounds with a Celtic flavor. I didn't have a name for it until I listened back to a recording I made of myself playing it, and then I immediately saw a solitary dark brown horse moving through the forest.
The Funky Jig: This tune is in jig timing but goes out on a limb beyond the traditional form for a jig. It has a little jazz and blues in it, and the final version on this CD reminds me of a demented scientist, with disheveled hair, stirring madly away at steaming vats of bubbling fluids.
Brennish Thomson Reel: This reel is dedicated to my son Brennish. The tune reminds me of playing fiddle for Scottish and New England style country dances.
Octothorpe Reel: This tune was inspired by my friend Bill Perry who announced over the
microphone during our Saint Patrick's day gig that one of the characters on a key board had been named an "Octothorp." I thought about that amazing fact for a while and decided that the composition of a reel was in order to commemorate the event.
New Hampshire Hornpipe: I had a lot of fun writing this tune. I wanted a bouncy original
hornpipe to add to my collection of traditional tunes. After composing the melody I
experimented with different rhythms and Suzie's jazzy backup sounded good to my ears. As I worked on it I realized that it reminded me of my many years of living in New Hampshire. I like the way it twists and turns and comes home again, like my many travels to far flung musical events.
Click here to return to the New Hampshire Hornpipe CD