I first heard the music of fiddler Hanneke Cassel on an iTunes Celtic music radio station called “A Celtic Sojourn” out of Boston. (If anyone doesn’t know about iTunes radio, check it out; you can listen to radio from around the world. I enjoy this particular station for its music, but the fact that the announcer has a delightful voice doesn’t hurt either.)
As I was listening one day in my apartment, the most glorious fiddle music came on and filled the room. I stopped doing what I was doing. I stopped thinking what I had been thinking. I stopped feeling how I had been feeling. And I’m pretty sure that I spent the length of that song literally dancing around my living room, followed by a sudden rush back to my computer as the song ended to catch the name of the artist that had produced these euphoria-inducing strains.
Listen to the very first song I ever heard by Hanneke Cassel:
How to describe this sound? It’s fiddle music, accompanied by various instruments, but it’s not just a violin playing the same old tunes with enthusiasm and technical brilliance: this music is melody-driven; soaring and rhythmic, sweet and evocative.
I immediately bought her newest CD, “For Reasons Unseen”. When I listen to it, I think, “I want to make music like this.”
Several years ago when I was studying harp at the University of Minnesota, we studied what the ancient Greeks had to say about music. One of things Aristotle wrote was “when one listens to music that imitates a certain passion, [one] becomes imbued with the same passion.” He believed that music in certain keys or modes would affect the listener adversely while others keys or modes would affect the listener positively. He went as far as to say that the music someone listened to had the ability to shape their character: even their soul.
While I personally believe that it takes more than just a scale to affect someone’s soul, I certainly believe that music has an immensely powerful capacity to influence our emotions. And when I listen to the music of Hanneke Cassel, I am definitely influenced by her passion. Clearly she loves the music she produces; just as clearly she has worked diligently to reach that level of skill and grace with the fiddle. Listening to her music makes me not only want to dance, but to practice. (And we all need a little motivation from time to time in the realm of practicing.) My goal is to reach a place in my music where I inspire in others the same emotions she inspires in me!
If you enjoy fiddle music, Scottish dancing and/or music, Celtic music in general, or are just looking to discover some new tunes, check out Hanneke Cassel and let your soul become imbued with a bit of her passion! You can visit her website at https://www.hannekecassel.com/.
Twin-Cities harpist Stephanie Claussen invites audiences to explore new locales and eras through her music. Influenced by her love of fairy tales, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the world music section at her local library, she performs a unique mixture of Scottish tunes, J.S. Bach, and anything rich in medieval or French harmonies. Sign up for her e-mail newsletter to receive important announcements and notifications of upcoming performances.
Photos courtesy of celticjunction.com and hannekecassel.com.