When I started my Peg project a young man got in touch. A fellow creative, his advice and encouragement have been great. One thing he suggested was to create a sound track for Peg's life to help immerse myself in her world.
I immediately dismissed the idea. Music is not my thing. Music leaves me unsure. That question "what music do you like?" always leaves me feeling very, very inadequate.
Which is odd. My dad was a jazz drummer. My brother is equally musical. My daughter taught herself how to play the piano. I come from a melodious lot, so why is music not important to me?
Last night I went to a gig. I went because a woman I admire invited me to the opening of the Masters of Tradition Festival. I told her I was't really into traditional Irish music but she described the event in such persuasive terms that I decided to open my mind.
Little did my poor, closed, non-auditory mind know what was in store.
I have never before been in the presence of someone at the top of their game. The fiddle player started low and quiet using his feet to tap the beat. He gradually built the tempo and he built and he built. Every so often he would give a gentle nod to his fellow musicians inviting them to come in. One was a jazz pianist. The juxtaposition of traditional Irish fiddle and jazz piano nearly broke my heart. It was too good. At one stage I found myself longing for a more definite beat: A bodhran I thought. I am my father's daughter and I wanted the percussion of a drum to anchor it all. And just like that, the fiddle player gave a little nod to a woman sitting by the side. She jumped on the stage.
She began to dance. She danced a traditional Irish dance, tapping the beat loudly with her feet, tapping the beat of our hearts. She lept. She lept with joy. I cried. It was too much goodness. I looked around me and all the audience were bobbing and tapping with shining eyes filled with emotion. Some of the tunes dated from the eighteenth century. I felt a connection to the past in a way I have never felt before. I wondered if Peg ever listened to those same airs. She would have heard traditional Irish music as a young woman. As she got older her tastes may have changed as Italian opera was popular in the city. Handel was a great favourite with the Dublin crowds. The dance of the day was a complicated choreographed minuet.
Peg employed a dulcimer player to follow her about particularly when she went on picnics to the Dargle River or Strawberry Beds. What magnificent style. Imagine having a man follow you around playing music every day. It's this flamboyance I want to reflect in her story. The refined minuets do not seem the right soundtrack to her life.
When I heard the fiddle and the piano together at the concert the other evening I thought that this sounds like Peg. The fiddle played the light and the dark, sweeping high and sinking low with controlled yet fiery energy. The piano came in at odd times playing half notes -bittersweet, heart breaking modern sounds that at first jarred with the traditional air but once I got used to the sound, I heard how perfectly they wove together. Peg danced to the beat of a different drum. She too would have jumped on stage and tapped our her passion allowing her heart to be free. I need to take up dancing lessons.