Oghams and Music


According to Murry Hope the following instruments were used based upon the mood or tone that the particular Bardic work required:

The Flute   –                                 Air   (later the Organ)

The Harp    –                                Water

The Sistrum –                             Earth (The Bells or Bodrun)

The Lyre    –                                 Fire


Sean O’Boyle, a late Irish scholar, made an attempt to interpret “Aradach Fionn” (Fionn’s Ladder) as harp tabulature using Oghams. He suggested that the Irish practice harp that has only 20 strings has a 1 to 1 correspondence to the first 20 Oghams.

Just as Oghams were used as keys to memory with verses being linked by assonance and alliteration, I believe that each Ogham had a unique tone or note associated with it on the harp.  The tone or string was struck as the Ogham sound was spoken or sung two notes per line.  The beginning and ending notes serving to connect each line to the next line in a continuing stream.
















Sit next to a tree and play your instrument until you can determine the correct tone for the tree.  Other tones will reflect from the tree.  The “soul tone” of the tree will be absorbed and you will possibly feel a tingle of energy that is released by the Spirit of the Tree.  This experience is somewhat akin to the common belief in Ireland (even today) that a particularly gifted musician, harper or piper has been taught by the Sidhe (famed for their enchanted music).

Celts believe in harmony and rightness in all things and particularly in Nature.  Note that the musical tones are repeated by different trees.  Some trees evidently have a similar feel to each other.

Another interpretive table:












In addition to the above  correspondences, the following properties of our Being were associated with tone combinations:

The Body: Single tones

The Mind: Two tone intervals

The Spirit: 3 tones at the same time (chords)

For more information on this subject, I recommend reading ” Original work by O’Boyle: “Ogham: The Poet’s Secret” (1980, Gilbert & Dalton Ltd., Dublin).

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