Irish Early Music group, tonos, comprises Róisín O’ Grady (Soprano) and Eamon Sweeney (Baroque Guitar), and specialises in the little-known repertoire for voice and early guitar. Our performances feature a unique blend of Irish and European music from the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries from diverse sources as Claudio Monteverdi, Turlough O’Carolan, John Dowland, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Henry Purcell and Traditional Irish music. We particularly enjoy juxtaposing Early Irish music with works by contemporaneous English and Continental masters: highlighting common threads and distinct differences. The employment of Irish harpers at many European royal courts during the Renaissance and Baroque periods inspires our repertoire, and we like to investigate how Irish and European music may have cross-fertilised.
Concerts programmes tend to be structured around a particular historical theme; recent themes have included The Wild Geese and The Flight of the Earls. Quotes are employed from early literary sources (e.g. The Annals of the Four Masters, English State Papers); the better to flesh out the narrative and deepen the sense of atmosphere.
tonos‘ music appeals to a large cross-section of the concert-going public, attracting audiences who enjoy Classical Music, Early Music, Irish Music, Vocal Music, Guitar Music. While the concerts are highly accessible to a general public they also appeal to the specialist: our Performance Practice is always historically-informed.
The Spanish word ‘tonos’ translates as ‘tone.’ With regard to seventeenth-century Spanish music it might suggest a scale suggested by each guitar chord. However, the term originates from Ancient Greece where it described a musical concept pertaining to the placement of scale patterns at different pitches. In the modern Greek language ‘tonós’ indicates the stressed syllable of a word. We also like that the resonance of the word resembles ‘sean-nós’, meaning ‘old-style’ in the Irish language.