Keening ( irish : Caointeoireacht ) is a traditional form of vocal elegy for the all in in the Gaelic Celtic custom, known to have taken place in Ireland and Scotland. Keening, which can be seen as a form of sean-nós sing, was performed in the Irish and Scottish Gaelic languages. The custom was once far-flung, declining from the eighteenth hundred and being about completely extinct by the middle of the twentieth hundred .
etymology [edit ]
“ Keen ” as a noun or verb comes from the Irish and Scottish Gaelic condition caoineadh ( “ to cry, to weep ” ), [ 1 ] adenine well as caoine ( “ gentleness, pleasantness, beauty ” ), and references to it from the 7th, 8th, and 12th centuries are extensive. [ 2 ] [ 3 ]
history and mythology [edit ]
diachronic record in celtic culture [edit ]
In the twelfth hundred, Giraldus Cambrensis ( Gerald of Wales ) described vocal music laments taking place in which the mourners were divided in two, each alternately singing their part and sometimes joining in full chorus. [ 4 ] Written sources that describe the sing expressive style appear from the one-sixteenth hundred on. [ 5 ] [ 6 ]
Reading: Keening – Wikipedia
The “ keen ” itself is thought to have been constituted of stock poetic elements ( the list of the genealogy of the dead person, praise for the die, emphasis on the deplorable condition of those left behind etc. ) set to vocal elegy. [ 7 ] Words of lament were interspersed with non-lexical vocables, that is sounds that are without meaning. [ 1 ] While broadly carried out by one or respective women, a chorus may have been intoned by all present. physical movements involving rock, kneeling or clapping accompanied the keening charwoman ( bean chaointe ) who was much paid for her services. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] The irish tradition of keening over the body during the funeral emanation and at the burial web site is clear-cut from the inflame, the drill of watching over the cadaver, which takes station the nox before the burial, and may death for more than one nox. [ 9 ] [ 10 ] In ancient times, a head ‘s own caparison ( assisted by the foreman ‘s family ) would perform the funeral sung ; more recently, keeners would be hired female mourners. [ 11 ] The practice of lament was “ broadly adhered to ” across people throughout Ireland and of all social classes until around the middle of the eighteenth century. [ 11 ] The scots equivalent of lament is known as a dirge. Around 1791, the antiquary William Beauford ( 1735-1819 ) [ 12 ] described in detail the rehearse of keening at a traditional irish funeral ceremony and transcribed the lament melodies that were whistle. He provided the follow information :
- The bards prepared the keen in advance.
- The body, “ornamented with flowers, was placed on a bier, or some elevated spot.”
- The relations and keeners were arranged in two divisions, one at the head, the other at the foot of the corpse.
- “The chief bard of the head chorus began by singing the first stanza in a low doleful tone, which was softly accompanied by the harp: at the conclusion, the foot semichorus began the lamentation, or ullaloo, from the final note of the preceding stanza, in which they were answered by the head semichorus; then both united in one general chorus. The chorus of the first stanza being ended, the chief bard of the foot semichorus began the second gol, or lamentation, in which they were answered by that of the head, and as before, both united in the general full chorus.”
- “The genealogy, rank, possessions, the virtues and vices of the dead were rehearsed, and a number of interrogations ‘were addressed to the deceased: as, why did he die? If married, whether his wife was faithful to him, his sons dutiful, or good hunters or warriors? if a woman, whether her daughters were fair or chaste? If a young man, whether he had been crossed in love? or if the blue-eyed maids of Erin had treated him with scorn?”
Banshees [edit ]
According to Irish mythology, keening laments are sung by banshees. A banshee could sing when a class member died or was about to die, even if the person had died far aside and news of their death had not even come. In those cases, her wail would be the first warning the family had of the death. [ 13 ] [ 14 ]
Parallels elsewhere [edit ]
Wailing and singing in lament, is angstrom old as funerals, going back to Homeric, Estruscan, and biblical times [ 15 ] [ 16 ] Keening has strong parallels in the Middle East and elsewhere. [ 17 ] [ 18 ] Sir Walter Scott compared Gaelic keening to the ululatus of the Romans. [ 11 ] The irish word caoine or cine is cognate with the Hebrew cina, a lament involving the clap of hands, [ 11 ] which could suggest an ancient link between the two traditions .
Field recordings [edit ]
In the early 1950s, Cití Ní Ghallchóir ( Kitty Gallagher ) of Gaoth Dobhair in County Donegal, Ireland sang a lament song she had learnt from an old woman to Alan Lomax, which can be heard on-line. [ 19 ] A recording of Gallagher ‘s lament birdcall was featured on the album Traditional Songs of Ireland ( 1995 ). [ 20 ] Below is Gallagher ‘s version with a transformation .
S’airiú, ( Word for lamenting – no literal translation ) Agus a leanbh ( My child )
Read more: The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time
Cad a Dhéanfaidh mé ? ( What will I do ? ) Tá tú are shiúl uaim ( You are gone from me ) Agus airiú Agus anuiridh, níl duin argon bith agam ( I ‘ve been left alone after a year ) ‘S airiú Agus mé liom fein ( I am alone ) Dá mbeithea go moch agam ( If I were early ) Agus och, och, airiú, gin thú, gin thú ( Alas, unfortunately, without you, without you ) [ 21 ]
The Tobar an Dualchais Scottish music archive has two recordings related to keening which are available to the populace ; the first is a lament birdcall spill the beans by Calum Johnston ( 1891-1972 ) of Barra, [ 22 ] and the second is a verse performed by Donald MacIntyre ( 1899-1964 ) of South Uist said to have been used by paid keening women. [ 23 ]
Phyllida Anam-Áire, writer of The Celtic Book of Dying, heard lament in its traditional environment in the Donegal Gaeltacht in the 1940s, and described and sang a rendition of what she heard. [ 24 ]
In popular culture [edit ]
John Millington Synge ‘s one-act play Riders to the Sea ( 1904 ) features a chorus of women from the Aran Islands mourning the death of their sleep together ones at sea. [ 25 ] In 1986, Robin Williams and Carol Burnett performed a amusing interpretation of a lament song for a sketch called “ The Funeral ” as part of Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin. [ 26 ]