Fiddle Music review

by Caoimhín Mac Aoidh

There is a world of a difference between influence and imitation in traditional fiddle playing. The issuing of the 78 rpm recordings of the likes of Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran, Paddy Sweeney and James Morrison of County Sligo in the early decades of the last century resulted in a unique artistic treasure trove. It also spawned a legion of imitators who entirely missed the point of the personal expression in distinctive regional and personal styles.

In my experience more insightful players who are passionate about such artistic achievement open themselves to be influenced by such music but ultimately express themselves as musicians in their own voice and style.

Too often what is heard now in Irish traditional fiddle music is formulaic. Too rare is that unique, highly personal voice delivering a sound like no other while remaining in the genre. Yes, by all means influences are clearly present in the latter case, but thankfully, mindless imitation is absent.

One such voice is that of Danny Diamond now to be heard on the deceptively simple titled cd “Fiddle Music”. While still relatively young, Danny has been steeped in traditional fiddle playing from infancy. His family members include significant players in the tradition. His day job with the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin has meant that he has been exposed to the works of hundreds of players and varieties of styles.

Danny has chosen to absorb the influences of a handful of masters in developing what is clearly a unique voice in Irish traditional fiddling. Approaches to melodies reflecting the spirit of such diverse geniuses as Tommie Potts as well as Padraig O’Keeffe are masterfully delivered by Diamond and all the while bearing his personal stamp.

This recording contains twelve tracks of astonishing, beautiful music which is deeply rooted in the tradition but sounding in a way like you have not heard elsewhere. This is the kind of great triumph which occurs when a player of considerable skill expresses that unique voice within. I have no doubt that this recording marks the public beginning of a player who will stand as one of the benchmarks of his generation, something Coleman and his compatriots did almost a century ago.

Unpublished review by fiddle player, author and researcher Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, October 2014.