Irish Music on the Silver Flute is a perfect choice for classical flautists who are interested in learning to authentically play Irish Folk music. The book provides an excellent way to gain an understanding of the fundamental characteristics of the genre, and how these can be conveyed in practice.
Barnes explains the various techniques and ornaments extremely clearly, with a concise writing style that allows each concept to be as straight-forward as possible to grasp. He references comparable classical terminology so that the player can get a sense of the initial effect, before describing how the two styles of ornament differ and why this important e.g. classical vibrato vs. feathering/finger vibrato. The contrast between rhythmic and melodic ornamentation is emphasized as a key element of creating a fitting sound. Barnes also highlights the timbral differences between the simple-system flute and silver flute, suggesting how the character of the former (including its strengths and weaknesses) can be used to inspire the colours created when playing on a silver flute.
An array of wonderful tunes are used to illustrate each type of ornament. There are classics such as ‘The Connemara Jig’ as well as many of Barnes’ originals. A particular highlight is the funky reel ‘Up’, which provides a fantastic introduction to ‘the hard D’.
While I have praised the accessibility of the book, this is not to say that it doesn’t provide numerous challenges for the flautist. A significant amount of perseverance will be required to master each technique, while the provided tunes are brimming with style and spirit to be brought out by the player. A rewarding learning process!