Coming of Spring Album Cover
The Coming of Spring
Cliff Moses

As we spring forward into summer time, here's a bright and cheerful album of traditional Irish dance music and Carolan pieces played on hammered dulcimer by Cliff Moses, on his first solo album. Not only is 'The coming of Spring' the title of one of the tracks, but it also reflects the bright and light sound of the dulcimer.

The hammered dulcimer is an unusual instrument in Irish music; it's nearest cousin would be the harp, though the strings are hit rather than plucked. Wire strings are used, and there is no damping, giving it a more bell-like tone, like the older style of Irish harp.

My first thought on getting this album was a worry that it was going to be a wishy-washy "atmospheric" kind of album, like I'd heard on dulcimer before. Nothing could be further from the truth; drive and precision are here in plenty, and the result is (at least to me) a new sound, which combines freshness with tradition. Like much harp music, it is relatively muted compared with many other instruments, and closer to listening music than dancing music, and the Carolan pieces give it a baroque touch, but is has enough drive and lift to get the fingers tapping in no time at all.

The 15 tracks and 55 minutes of this album are largely a mix of traditional dance sets and O'Carolan pieces, with a few exceptions like Moon of Clare, Cliff's version of 'Claire de la Lune'.

Moses lives in Texas, where is he a founder member of the group St. James's Gate, which has won an All-Ireland medal for best instrumental group (1986); Cliff himself has a second and third prize All-Ireland in the infamous 'miscellaneous instruments' category. He says he took up the dulcimer after hearing Malcolm Daglish's "Banish Misfortune" album, and because there were already too many guitar and banjo players around.

Like most 'solo' albums, there are other contributors: in this case, Tom McMasters accompanies many tunes on guitar or bodhran, and James Gembarowski adds a flute line on a few cuts.


Here are some cuts from the album, all about 20-30 seconds long. The au format gives a compressed, but pretty high quality sample, while the ra (RealAudio) format gives a much quicker download (average file size is about 50k, compared with 300k for the au samples), at the expense of sound quality; the noisy background and slight distortion are not present in the CD! Try the audiohelp file for information on how to set up your browser to play audio files.

Track listing

  1. Hunter's House / Jackie Coleman's Reel / Tommy Tarbukas (reels)
  2. Cronin's Hornpipe / The Rights of Man (hornpipes)
  3. Eleanor Plunkett / Kean O' Hara / Hugh O' Donnell / Frank Palmer / Carolans' Welcome (Carolan medley)
  4. Carolan's Concerto / Mains of Mitchelstown / Jig of Slurs (Carolan/slow reel/jig)
  5. Paddy's Rambles Through the Park (slow air)
  6. Thank You, Mary / Mighty Goat / Dickens on the Strand (reels)
    (these two tracks are labelled in reverse on the CD)
  7. The Blackthorn Stick / The Mouse in the Cupboard / The Coming of Spring (jigs)
  8. Captain O'Kane's Canon (Carolan)
  9. Swans Among the Rushes / The Ashbrook / Charlie's Pride (jigs)
  10. Four Polkas
  11. Foxhunter's Jig / Lad O'Beirne's Hornpipe / Foxhunter's Reel (slip jig/hornpipe/reel)
  12. Lass of Carrowcastle / Maid of Mt. Cisco / Gravel Walk (reels)
  13. Give Me Your Hand (Tabhair dom do lamh) (air)
  14. Master Crowley (slow reel)
  15. Moon of Clare (air)]


Ordering Info

As they say on TV 'this offer not available in stores!'; Cliff has brought out the CD on his own label, so the easiest way is to order direct:
     Cliff Moses
     14623 Hidden Glen Woods
     San Antonio, TX 78249
Cost (including postage) is $15 for the CD, $10 for cassette, by cash or check.

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