Panta Rhei

Extended Liner Notes

1. O Voskos (Cyprus)
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I first heard this very old Cypriot song when I was about 14 and living on the island of Cyprus. One of my friends was singing it, and I felt struck by lightning - the power and sadness of this song feel as strong to me today as they did back then.

O Voskos
(Phonetic Cypriot Greek)

Chorus:
Tjieyio voskos yiennithika
Stou kopathkiou, stou kopathkiou ti stano
Tjie to kormi mou to ftoho
Tjeemesa that, tjeemesa tha pethani

Verse:
Yea sas pefka tjie platania
Tjie mirsinia zeelefta sees
On xerete to oute haro
ma oute tjie t'aspra geerathkia

Tjiotan pethano varte me
Stou kopathkiou, stou kopathkiou ti vrisi
Ap oshee dipla tis psilo
Tjiomorfon ki, tjiomorfon kiparissi

The Shepherd
(English translation)

Chorus:
And I was born a shepherd
Born amongst the flock in the barn
And my poor body
There will die

Verse:
Goodbye pine and oak
Myrtle, we envy that you don't know death
Or the white of old age

And when I die
Put my body in the flock's spring
Where beside it grows the tall and beautiful cypress

 

2. Fig for a Kiss/Butterfly/Drowsy Maggie (Ireland)
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During the recording of this set I saw a concert by Martin Hayes. His rhythmic subtleties were fascinating, and I've attempted to echo those sensibilities in this set. I've also always loved counterpoint (Bach remains my all-time favourite composer), and discovered that Fig and Butterfly can actually be played on top of each other - this happens after the first time through Butterfly. I took this idea to the last song of the set, and superimposed "Sweet Molly" and "Sleep Soon In the Morning" on top of "Drowsy Maggie." Amusingly enough, the titles seem to go well together too.

 

3. Otan Mou Eipen Ehe Yian/Ma Na Vu (Greece/Israel)
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I call this the "War and Peace" set, as the first song is a disguised cry again oppression (in this case, the Greek struggle against Turkish occupation), while Ma Na Vu speaks of "tidings of peace." I aimed to give "Otan" an angular, strident sound, while "Ma Na Vu" would have a massive, wide range, in order to reflect the narrowness of options war leaves us versus the freedom of peace. Paddy's lyra has the perfect piercing, crying timbre for "Otan" while Peter's very deep drum and Karl's guitar harmonics throughout "Ma Na Vu" form a vast sonic wash.

Otan Mou Eipen Ehe Yian
(Phonetic Greek)

Otan mou eipen ehe yian
Ke girise na payi
Enoisa tin kardoula mou
Pou mesa pos errayi
Apopse me skotosane
Ke ela ke si ke klapse
Ke parapo to ema mou
Ke ta mallia sou vapse

When She Said Goodbye to Me
(English translation)

When she said goodbye to me
And turned to leave
I felt my heart breaking inside me
This evening they have slain me
Come you and cry
Take my blood
And dye your hair with it


Ma Na Vu
(Phonetic Hebrew)

Ma na vu al he harim
Rage le hame vaser
Ma shemi a ha jeshua
Ma shemi a shalom

See How Beautiful
(English translation)

How beautiful on the mountains are the steps of the messenger
Bringing tidings of deliverance, bringing tidings of peace

 

4. Star of Munster/Cremonea/Glenlivet (Ireland/O'Carolan/Scotland)
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This set struck me as having classical sonata movement structure; a lively opener (Allegro), a slower, gentler middle movement in triple time (Andante), and fast and furious ending (Presto) - hence "The Celtic Sonata." I didn't discover the name or composer of Cremonea until about 4 weeks before going to press; auspiciously enough, I had created a Renaissance/Baroque influenced arrangement of it (musica ficta all over the place), only afterwards discovering that Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) was the writer. To further the early music arrangement, Paddy plays the oud on "Cremonea," in imitation of the lute.

 

5. La Rosa Enflorece/To Rinaki (Ladino/Greece)
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Both these songs are about unrequited love; one is tragic, and the other hilarious. While recording La Rosa, I became very interested in a Middle Eastern/Turkish instrument, the kanun. It generally is very melody-, as opposed to chord-, focused. Right around that time, I had a harp lesson with Natalie Cox, where she demonstrated a kanun-like technique of echoing the melody an octave lower - you'll hear that on my second solo on this track. For Rinaki, Gari's double and triple violin solos always remind me a Turkish or Roma cabaret band. To give the harp extra punch on this track, I use an all-finger glissando, which I think supports the crazed character of this song. This is the dog house track, but not in the way most people think (email me if you don't know what I mean.)

La Rosa Enflorece
(Ladino)

Los bilbilicos cantan
Con sospiros de amor
Mi neshama mi ventura
Estan en tu poder

La rosa enflorese
En el mes de mai
Mi neshama s'escurese,
Sufriendo del amor

Mas presto ven palomba
Mas presto ven con mi
Mas presto ven querida,
Corre y salvame        

The Rose Blooms
(English translation)

The nightingales sing
With sighs of love
My soul and my fate
Are in your power

The rose blooms
in the month of May
My soul and fate
Suffer from love's pain

Come more quickly, dove
More quickly come with me
More quickly come, beloved
Run and save me


To Rinaki
(Phonetic Greek)

Apo tin porta sou perno,
Eri, Erinkaki mou
Ke vrisko klidomeno
S'agapo ma ti na po

Skifto filo tin klidaria
Eri, Erinaki mou
Tharo filo essena
S'agapo ma ti na po

Riksa nero stin porta su
Na pesso na glistrisso
Na vro aformi tis manas sou
Na mpo na sou milisso

Little Irene
(English translation)

Irene, I walk past your door and find it locked
I love you but what can I say!

I bend down and kiss your door's lock
And I make believe that I kiss you

Pour out water so that I may slip and fall and find an excuse
for your mother to let me in and have a chance to talk to you

 

6. Arran Boat/Thalassaki Mou (Ireland/Greece)
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Peter came up with the great idea of using his rain drum for this set; both songs are about the sea. For Arran Boat, I wanted a floating impression, so used secondary dominants throughout. For Thalassaki I also wanted a watery feeling, so used a lot of quartile and quintile chords, as well as trading the melody mid-phrase between harp and oud, taking my cues from Debussy's "La Mer." I enjoyed combining songs that addressed a similar subject but were composed far apart geographically.

Thalassaki Mou
(Phonetic Greek)

Thalassa tous thalassinous, thalassaki mou
Min tous thalassodernis
Thalassonoume, yia sena ksimeronoume
Thalassa ke armiro nero
Na ksehaso then mporo

Ki kopelia ine mikri
Ke then tis pan'ta mavra
Ke fere to pulaki mou

My Little Sea
(English translation)

Sea, don't torture the sailors
I stay up at nights thinking about you
Sea and salt water, I cannot forget you

The girl is young and she won't look well in black
Oh sea, bring my love back

 

7. When I Open My Eyes (original)
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I got the title for this song from the body of a beautiful poem by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill called "Carnival." The first three verses of the poem completely reflect my joy with Michiel. To communicate this buoyant feeling, I use mainly suspended harmonies throughout, and alternate between G Mixolydian/g minor and d minor to keep things flowing.

 

8. Yo m'enamori d'un aire/Buciumeana/The Wedding Song (Ladino/Romania/Cyprus)
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This set is like awakening to the true nature of love; first all the illusions, then the struggle to fight them, then finally learning what love is really about. The set starts out alone, a cappella, moves into a more dense place, and finally is in company, but with give and take. Sonja's fantastic Balkan singing inspired me to add drones to The Wedding Song; I wanted to acknowledge the profound nature of marriage, and the power of the held notes emphasise that for me. However, there are many additional lyrics to "The Wedding Song," including teasing versions, religious versions, and so on - it would be sung throughout the days leading up to a wedding in Cyprus, altered to fit the mood.

Yo m'enamori d'un aire
(Ladino)

Yo m’enamori d’un aire, un aire d’una mujer;
D’una mujer mui hermoza, linda de mi coracon.
Ah...
Yo m’enamori de noche, el lunar ya m’engano,
Si esto era de dma, yo no atava amor.
Ah...
Si otra vez you m’enamoro, sea de dia con sol.
Ah...

I Fell in Love With an Illusion
(English translation)

I fell in love with a breeze, a breeze of a woman so pretty, dearer to me than my heart.
I fell in love during night, the moon deceived me -
Were it day, I would not have found love.
If I fall in love ever again, I’ll do it in daylight!


To Tragoudi Tou Gamou
(Phonetic Cypriot Greek)

Ora kali, ora hrouse
Ora evloemenee
Touti thoulea parkepsamen
Na vkee stereomene

Simeron lampi o ouranos
Simeron lampi i mera
Simera stefanonetai
O aytos tin persitera

Simera mavros o ouranos
Simera mavri i mera
simera pohorizethai
I kori tin mitera

The Wedding Song
(English translation)

Kind hour, golden hour
Blessed hour
All the work we do today
Will become blessed

Today the sky is shining
Today the day is shining
Today they will be crowned:
The eagle and the dove

Today the sky is black
Today the day is black
Today they will be separated:
The daughter and the mother

 

9. Lo Yisa Goi/Kol HaN'shamah/Ablakomba (Israel/Israel-Sufi/Hungarian)
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The picture of a choir of harps playing in a cathedral was what I had in mind for this triple-counterpoint piece. Both of the first two songs can be used as rounds, which I did here. Ablakomba's uneven length compared to the other two pieces adds an aspect of spiraling that reflects the passing of time for me.

Lo Yisa Goi
(Phonetic Hebrew)

Ei-oh-oh
Lo yisa goi el goi chrev
Lo yilm'du od michamah

(English translation)
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation
Nor ever again shall they train for war

Kol HaN'shamah
(Phonetic Hebrew)

Hal'hu....
Kol han'shamah
t'haleil yah

Hal'lu, hal'luyah

(English translation)

May everything that has breath praise God
Praise be to God


Ablakomba
(Hungarian)

Ablakomba, ablakomba besutott a holdvilag
A ki kettot, harmat szeret sosincs arra jo vilag

Lam en csak egyest szeretek
Megis de sokat szenvedek
Ez az alnok beres legeny
Caslta meg a szivemet

Through My Window
(English translation)

Through my window brightly shines the silvery moon
Loving many, heart inconstant
Sadness it will bring you soon

Yes, I love you, only you dear
Great my anguish when you're not near
You've deceived me, left me pining
Broken hearted, lonely, crying

 

10. Garifalia/Mia Papadia (Greece)
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The teasing natures of both these songs speak for themselves, so I decided on a sparse arrangement with just harp and Peter's wonderfully lively percussion. Couldn't resist a little counterpoint at the end though, where I layer the two songs on top of each other in order to create an impression of two people verbally sparring with each other.

Garifalia
(Phonetic Greek)

Magapas, Garifalia mou
Magapas i me yelas?
Magapas i me yelas
Ton karo sou na pernas?

Sagapo vailike mou
Sagapo, then se yelo
Sagapo, then se yelo
San ta matio mou ta dio

Mi se ma, Garifalia mou
Mi se malose kanis?
Mi se malose kanis?
Garifalia mou to pis

Me malo, vasilike mou
Me maloni i mana mou
Me maloni i mana mou
Then mporo, soultana mou

Carnation
(English translation)

Do you love me, my carnation
Do you love me or are you teasing me?
Do you love me or are you teasing me
To pass you time away?

I love you, my sweet basil
I love you, I don't tease you
O love you, I don't tease you
I love you as my own two eyes

Has anyone scolded you, my carnation?
Has anyone chided you?
Has anyone chided you?
My carnation, tell me

I'm scolded, my basil
I'm chided by my mother
I'm chided by my mother
I can't endure, my sweet


Mia Papadia
(Phonetic Greek)

Mia papadia ston argalio
Ta podia tis kounouse

Ke me to nou tis eleye
Ke me to logiko tis

"Then tone thelo ton Papa,
Ton trago me ta genia,

Mon thelo tsopanopoulo
Pou pezi i floyera."

The Priest's Wife
(English translation)

The priest's wife sat at her loom
Her feet treading the pedals

And in her mind she said to herself,
With common sense:

"I don't want the priest,
The billy goat with the beard,

I only want a young shepherd
Who plays the flute."

 

11. Chi Mi Na Morbheanna (Scotland)
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Yearning for home is the subject of this song, which always brings up mixed feelings for me as an immigrant. There's the great life I have here, and the unknown life I would have had in my home country. Particularly, it's wondering about the connection I have to the people of my country, being something of an outsider now, but certainly not completely disconnected. To reflect this bittersweet situation, I arranged an organic drone of lyra and tambur (marrying Greek and Turkish instruments!) and sing both vocals to acknowledge this double identity of being Irish and American. In order to learn the lyrics, my dad, who was educated in Gaelic, read the words into my answering machine, which James then transferred to CD. I would sit there with my boombox and read along with it until finally the day came when I could switch the boombox off.

Chi Mi Na Morbheanna
(Scottish Gaelic)

Chorus:
O chi, chi mi na morbheanna
O chi, chi mi na corrbheanna
O chi, chi mi na coireachan
Chi mi na sgoran fo cheo

Verse:
Chi mi gun dail an t-aite 's an d'rugadh mi
Cuirear orm failt' 's a chaain a thuigeas mi
Gheibh mi ann aoidh agus gradh 'n uair ruigeam
Nach reicinn air thunnaichean oir

Chi mi ann coilltean, chi mi ann doireachan
Chi mi ann maghan baa is toraiche
Chi mi na feidh air la nan coireachan
Falaicht' an trusgan de cheo

Beanntaichean ada is aillidh leacainnean
Sluagh ann on comhnuidh is coire cleachdainnean
'S aotrom mo cheum a' leum g'am faicinn
Is fanaidh mi tacan le deoin

The Mist Covered Mountains
(English translation)

Chorus:
Oh I see, I see the great mountains
Oh I see, I see the lofty mountains
Oh I see, I see the corries
I see the peaks under the mist

Verse:
I see right away the place of my birth
I will be welcomed in a language that I understand
I will receive hospitality and love when I reach there
That I will not trade for tons of gold

I see the woods there, I see thickets
I see fair, fertile fields there
I see the deer on the ground of the corries
Shrouded in a garment of mist

High mountains with lovely slopes
Folk abiding there who are customarily kind
Light is my step as I go bounding to meet them
And I will remain there willingly

 

12. Flying to the Fleadh/Glass of Beer (Patrick Davey/Ireland)
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I call this "Grainne's Set" as both these songs were introduced to me by Irish harper Grainne Hambly. I take both her harp arrangements more or less verbatim, adding other instruments to "Glass of Beer" to create contrasting chaotic pub sound to "Flying"s clean lines. Again, Gary's double violin tracks add huge energy, and Peter's percussion makes us sound like there's 6 of us instead of 3 playing. "Flying" was written by Irish piper Patrick Davey and is a fine example of the living Irish music tradition.

 

13. Wayfaring Stranger/Rosa das Rosas/Sinner Man (Appallachia/medieval Spanish/Appallachia)
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I wanted to end with American songs, to acknowledge that this is the place where I was able to bring all my musical hopes to fruition. I also wanted to marry these more modern songs with one of my most ancient influences, medieval music. I am delighted to have my recording engineer (and bona fide American ;-) ) James Boblak sing the "Wayfaring Stranger", while Sonja Drakulich anchors the past with "Rosa das Rosas." Adding "Sinner Man" weaves in further vocal suspensions; the three lines circle each other, bringing past and present together, which was my ultimate hope for this recording.

Wayfaring Stranger

I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
Yet there's no sickness, no toil or danger
In that bright world to which I go

I'm going there to see my father
I'm going there no more to roam
I'm only going over to Jordan
I'm only going over home

I know dark clouds will gather around me
I know my way is rough and steep
Yet beauteous fields lie just before me
Where God's redeemed their vigils keep

I'm going there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
I'm only going over to Jordan
I'm only going over to home

Oh hunger's been my life's companion
And sorrow's been my dearest friend
But I will leave them both behind me
In that bright land at journey's end

I'm going there to meet my brothers
Gone before me one by one
I'm just going over Jordan
I'm just going over home

My father lives and died a farmer
Reaping less than he did sow
And I follow in his footsteps
Knowing less than he did know

I'm going there to meet my maker
When this weary life is done
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

Rosa das Rosas
(medieval Spanish)

Chorus:
Rosa das rosas e fror das frores
Dona das donas, sennor das sennores

Verse:
Rosa de beldad'e de parecer
E fror d'alegria e de prazer

Atal sennor dev 'ome muit' amar
Que de todo mal o pode guardar

Devemo-la muit' amar e servir
Ca punna de nos guardar de falir

Rose of Roses
(English translation)

Chorus:
Rose of roses and flower of flowers
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords

Verse:
Rose of beauty and fine appearance
And flower of happiness and pleasure

Such a mistress everyone should love,
For she can ward away any evil

We should love and serve her loyally,
For she can guard us from failing

Sinner Man

Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to? X3
All on that day?

Run to the sun; oh sun, won't you hide me? X3
All on that day?

Run to the moon: oh moon, won't you hide me? X3
All on that day?

The Lord said "Oh sinner man, the moon'll be bleeding" X3
All on that day

2002 - 2009 Diana Rowan  All rights reserved.