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Natalie MacMaster is Celtic Music`s fastest rising star. The Canadian fiddler regularly plays to sold out concerts for her growing number of fans. Heres why .
Celtic music is, admittedly, a small genre of music, and although it has its own set of "superstars", it has yet to produce its first crossover star, someone who attracts the notice of fans of other genres. It is very likely that the first person to achieve this may be a Canadian fiddler named Natalie MacMaster.
MacMaster, who is from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, plays two hundred fifty to three hundred sold out concerts a year for an evergrowing number of fans and shows no signs of slowing down or even peaking. Not yet thirty years old, she seems to have it all. She is beautiful, personable, has both feet firmly planted on the ground, and above all, is not merely talented, but gifted. Her "In My Hands" album went gold and "My Roots Are Showing", her last U.S. release, was nominated for a Grammy, although it did not win. Add to this two Junos, (Canada`s Grammy), and a long list of other awards and it adds up to a a major achivement in a difficult field. But why has this young woman garnered so many accolades?First and foremost, MacMaster`s talent is beyond dispute. It takes only a few minutes of listening to one of her albums to realize that this lady is special. Talent is common, genius is rare and MacMaster displays genius with the fiddle. Each cut of each of her albums shows something unique. At worst, and there are few "worst" spots, they are good. At best, they demonstrate talent that clearly shows MacMaster, had so chosen, would have been recognized as one of the world`s greatest violinists. Listening to her music you are left with the feeling that somehow you know her because of the music, and most of all MacMaster truly enjoys what she is doing, that is not just playing the music, she feels it too.
The music she plays is called Celtic, but Celtic is really nothing more than folk music and folk music is, as its name implies, music about "folks", the ordinary people. Born in the towns, villages and farming communties of Scotland and Ireland, refined in their pubs and at their dances, it made its way to Cape Breton, a small island populated by people of Scottish descent, but with a generous sprinkling of Irish and French as well. They added their own tunes and their own techinques and came up with a sound distinctly unique, but still Celtic in its roots. Rather than the "formal" style of Scotland and Ireland, with each note sounded clearly, the Cape Breton style was rawer, the notes blending more, overlapping,(MacMaster calls it "playing dirty"), becoming more of an emotional sound.
And into this musical melting pot, on June 13th, 1972, Natalie MacMaster was born in the Cape Breton town of Troy. Music was part of her life almost from the start. She remembers as a young child lying down in front of the radio on pillows, listening to the music until she would fall asleep. At age five, she was stepdancing, and was given her first fiddle at the age of nine, and according to her music teacher, she was "literally able to play a tune the first time she had a fiddle in her hands." The next year, only ten years old, and "a very shy little girl" according to her mother, she played her first concert, accompanied by her aunt on a piano. For the next number of years, she played locally, at small concerts and festivals. By sixteen, she had earned enough from these concerts to pay for the recording of her first album, "Four On the Floor". Selling the album at concerts as she played up and down Canada`s East Coast, she began to attract a following. Still playing "part-time", she released her second album, two years later, while in college.(She has a teaching degree.) "Road to the Isle", again financed by MacMaster`s concert earnings, garnered her more acclaim and a wider following, cumulating in recording contract.
Any fears that MacMaster`s music would have only a small following were put to rest when she released "No Boundaries", a widely accaimed album expanding and mixing both MacMasters music and traditional celtic sound with more modern seasoning. The reception guaranteed more MacMaster releases. If anyone feared that MacMaster was planing to abandon her traditonal roots, her next release "Fit As a Fiddle" reassured them. Totally traditional in scope, the music glides easily between lively jigs and reels to poigant waltes and airs. To me, her playing reaches a height on this recording that transcends anything she had done before, her excellent work on "No Boundaries" notwithstanding. If it can be said an album can be pure fun to listen to, as opposed to "merely" enjoyable, "Fit As A Fiddle" qualifies. This is truly MacMaster at her best. "In My Hands", MacMasters most popular album to date, was a continuation of the experminting with expanding the borders of celtic music she began in "No Boundaries", a nd in a departure from what she has done in the past, for the first time, she uses her own voice for the title track. Not singing so much as a chant, (Cape Breton Rap as it were)it is a tribute to the magic she finds in her fiddle. A wonderful collaboration between MacMasters fiddle and the beautiful voice of blue grass singer Alison Kraus resulted in "Get me Through December", a song that make the country western charts. Her most recent release is the Grammy nominated "My Roots Are Showing" (actually released prior to "In My Hands" in Canada and the United Kingdom), another traditional album that again challenges anyone who would dismiss Celtic Music as a lesser genre. Each year, each concert, each album, more and more people are discovering the magic of Natalie MacMaster. She has an offical web site, and unofficial site, a "Yahoo" fan club, and despite this she is remarkably unchanged. She is still "Nat" to her friends, "Natalie" to her fans, and happily brags about her car with the "seven disc CD play er."
She has gathered enough recognition that her native Nova Scotia makes sure that a shot of her performing is included in their "Come Visit Nova Scotia" travel commerical, but she has not yet achieved the recognition she deserves, but it will come. Write that name, Natalie MacMaster, down and remember it. You will hearing a lot more about and from this amazingly talented young woman.
Written by Wayne McDowell -
Does music effect the brain?
Does music effect the brain; read and find the answers here.
Music is used in a variety of ways. It is used in the medical field as a source of research and as a sort of therapy as well. Music has been used as therapy for seizures, to lower blood pressure, treat ADD children, treat mental illness, treat depression, aid in healing, treat stress and insomnia and premature infants.Musicologist Julius Portnoy found that music can change metabolic rates, increase or decrease blood pressure, effect energy levels, and digestion, positively or negatively, depending on the type of music. Calming music, such as classical music was found to have a very calming effect on the body, and cause the increase of endorphins, thirty minutes of such music was equal to the effect of a dose of valium. Both hemispheres of the brain are involved in processing music. The music in these studies is not the "lyrics", but the music itself, the melody, the tones, the tunes, the rhythm, the chords.
Conversely music has also been documented to cause sickness. The right, or wrong music, rather, can be like a poison to the body. Studies have been done on plants where loud hard rock music, for instance, killed plants and soft classical music, make the plants grow faster. Music is very powerful, like a drug and can even be an addiction. In the case of Patty Hearst, it was documented that music was used in the aid of brainwashing her. In the book, Elevator Music, by Joseph Lanza, it states that certain types of music over prolonged periods in certain conditions, were shown to cause seizures.
In the book, The Secret Power of Music, by David Tame, it says, "music is more than a language, it is the language of languages. It can be said that of all the arts, there is none other that more powerfully moves and changes the consciousness."
It can be said that music is a very powerful and awesome tool, that can have positive effects, virtually life saving mentally and physically when used in the right context, but has equally destructive and detrimental potential if used negatively.
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