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when feathers appear | Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald (2021)

by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald

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about

when feathers appear

catriona mckay | scottish harp
alistair macdonald | live electronics

slow music to submerge yourself in | exhilarating sounds for embracing the storm | music of love, loss and transformation

1. beginnings in disguise (royal lament) - Trad / Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
2. against the wind - Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
3. the transformation (macgregor of roro’s lament) - Trad / Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
4. when feathers appear - Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
5. evanescent (the harper’s dismissal) - Trad / Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
6. divine messengers (you’ve left me feeling melancholy) - Trad / Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
7. ae fond kiss (rory dall’s port) - Trad / Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald

when feathers appear

this album came together as if it flew in from somewhere magical!


it’s a gift to you of healing sounds for your imagination and heart to take flight


it’s slow music to submerge yourself in, and exhilarating sounds for embracing the storm

Alistair and I have made music together for many years and we were missing making new music together this past year. Given the restrictions at the time Alistair suggested we try playing together over the internet. We did a trial set up, me in Dundee, Alistair in Glasgow so we could check we could hear each other and see if or how long a time delay there would be. (against the wind)

Alistair gave a beat and we both 'ticked' in tempo but what we heard through the headphones was ‘tick/tick..tick/tick’ a small but confusing delay. We were in fits of laughter, how can we make music like this? But that wasn’t going to stop us! We decided it was time for slow music and so the album was born. (beginnings in disguise)

We played and recorded ourselves live while listening to each other (with the wee delay!) so what you hear is straight from the moment, live and just as we played, no post processing, nothing added. Critically, we had to breathe together to make this recording process work, any false move and it’s gone. (evanescent)

We play our own compositions as well as old harp melodies from manuscripts, poignant laments, music that tells the shared story of love, loss and transformation. (the transformation)

The album fell together extremely naturally, like it had a power and vision of its own. We had one audience member - a big, handsome, enigmatic crow (that's him on the front cover!) who was very interested in the harp. One day he showed up with a broken leg but he has survived and is still listening.

The crow symbolises intuition, transformation and spiritual growth. He seemed to be watching over this music and we were reminded of the well known saying ‘when feathers appear, angels are near’. (when feathers appear)

Perhaps this music will allow feathers to appear to you. (divine messengers)


May it uplift you and provide comfort. Somewhere to rest your head, heart, ears and soul. (ae fond kiss)

love and ae fond kiss to you,
Catriona & Alistair

June 2021

credits

released July 12, 2021

recorded by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
mixed and mastered by Alistair MacDonald
produced by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
photos and CD design by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
Catriona plays a handmade acoustic Glenelle harp made by Starfish Designs

thank you to Alison Kinnaird for her inspirational work ‘The Harp Key’

this album is dedicated to Dougie Anderson (1951-2020)

all music traditional with composition by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald except
tracks 2 & 4 composed by Catriona McKay & Alistair MacDonald
tracks 1/3/5 tune in Angus Fraser Collection
track 6 tune in Simon Fraser Collection
track 7 ‘Rory Dall’s Port’ is an old harp tune to which Robert Burns first set his song ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ in Johnson’s ‘Scots Musical Museum Vol. IV’

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about

Catriona McKay Scotland, UK

Catriona McKay fae Dundee, Scotland. A fearless explorer of the Scottish harp who is widely recognised for her dynamic musicianship and innovative rhythm harp style. She has many awards including Scots Trad Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year 2007 & 2014 and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Best Duo 2018 with Chris Stout. Her composition Swan LK243 has been played and recorded by musicians worldwide. ... more

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