Reeling Roosters & Dancing Ducks — Celtic Mouth Music
by Heather Sparling • 376 pages
A RESEARCHER IN SCOTTISH AND CAPE BRETON GAELIC SONG, an ethnomusicologist, and a professor at Cape Breton University, Heather Sparling focuses her years of work on puirt-a-beul—that is, Gaelic mouth music or tunes. These are a toe-tapping and tongue-twisting genre of song that parallels the Celtic instrumental dance tune tradition. They were used in kitchen ceilidhs to keep tunes alive and to pass that tradition along, to enliven parties, and as an instrument-less expression of the power and joy of music and dance.
Though these lively tunes are popular with both Gaelic- and non-Gaelic-speaking audiences, this book offers the first comprehensive study of the genre. Sparling considers how puirt-a-beul compare to other forms of global mouth music, and examines their origins, functions and musical and lyrical characteristics. She brings together historical references, interviews with Gaelic singers, and observations of performances and recordings.