Following the release of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh‘s second commercial solo recording, Ar Uair Bhig an Lae: Small Hours, SOTI caught up with Muireann via Skype at her home in West Kerry.
What is the first song you learned?
I’ve been singing since I was a child. I suppose one of the first songs I probably learned is the same song that my little girl has now learned this year. She’s only 1 1/2 [years old]. It’s Éiníní, which is a lullaby. My mom used to sing it for me, and now I sing it for Sadhbh, and she started singing along. I was just thinking the other day that probably that was my first song, too, as it was probably the first song I heard. It’s just a song about little birds going to sleep.
What’s the most recent song that you have learned?
Probably one of the songs off my new album, in the sense that I would have been very familiar with them all, bar one or two, but that there were quite a few that I didn’t perform regularly, so I needed to sit down and really learn them for the album and for my concerts since I released it.
What’s your method for learning new songs?
Oh, very old fashioned, just repeat, repeat, repeat. Just rote learning. I like to read the words and see them, and I can kind of later on see them in my head. What is really important is just to try and remember the story. I think that really, really helps with the lyrics. If you can keep focused on the story and what’s happening as well, you can generally get by okay, too, because you’ll be concentrating on it in a different way, rather than as a performance.