Tell us a little about yourself.
Browne: I've recorded or worked on over sixty albums to
date since my first recording in 1982. I am constantly involved
with Contemporary as well as Traditional projects. I have worked
on many Hollywood film scores including Rob Roy, Circle of Friends
and The Secret of Roan Inish. I was the original piper on the
Riverdance recording but declined the show as it would take
me away from home and from my other projects. I was a founder
member of the Afro
Celt Sound System, toured worldwide with them, and wrote
and recorded material for the first two CDs. I have made many
recordings of the old traditional music of Ireland, playing
with both old and young musicians and singers. I am a member
of and again have toured the world with the Irish three piece
band CRAN. We did a very successful ten city tour of Japan in
How Melody of Legend project conceived?
I was not personally involved in the conception of the project.
It was the producer, Kenichi Funayama, who initially contacted
me after the idea had been conceived. Having been previously
involved in an Irish music interpretation of Final Fantasy IV
in the early 90's, I was aware of this market in Japan, and
had enjoyed working on that previous project.
Did you have any input how the songs should be arranged? How
closely did you follow the arrangers concepts? Which arranger
where you most comfortable working with? ?
The initial arrangements were done in Japan by six or seven
arrangers and sent as pre-recorded sound files, which we loaded
onto my ProTools system. As the arrangers wouldn't have had
an in-depth knowledge of Irish Uilleann Pipes, flutes and whistles,
some of the arrangements had to be changed as we recorded. This
was done together with myself, our engineer Ciaran Byrne, Kenichi,
and two of the arrangers, Yoko Ueno and Yuji Yoshino. I found
Yoko and Yuji very easy to work with. Yoko has very good English
that made communication easy. By the second week, Yuji realized
he had a lot more English than he thought. In fact all three
were even speaking some Irish by the end of the recording! They
are very interested in Irish musical instruments, melodies and
techniques. We had a great time together and all agreed that
we would love to get together again for new projects. Actually,
since then, I have been working with Yoko on another project.
She sent over the tracks, I recorded over them and sent them
back - modern technology, eh!! Many of the arrangements changed
also at the mixing stage. Ciaran has a great ear for creating
soundscapes and made many changes to the pre-recorded sounds
using filters, knobs and buttons! I think that part of the idea
of coming to Ireland was to use an Irish engineer who would
bring his own creativity to the project. Ciaran lived up to
Did you get the opportunity to listen to the original game music?
Yes. I was sent a minidisc of the originals - very different
to what we produced! Now, after the recording, it is interesting
to listen to both recordings and to compare them.
What is your favorite track from the Melody of Legend discs?
My favorite track is "Arcana Densetsu"
(Track 2 on Chapter of love). I enjoy the high synth and the
Irish Whistle battling and answering each other. The sounds
are great and there is a huge feeling of tension throughout
the track. Kalta is the arranger and I think he must have much
"Good Madness" in him! All the Whistle parts are my own and
I felt the track gave me full freedom to explore rhythm and
melody. Having said that, I loved working on every track and
enjoyed the freedom to play around with the melodies and to
compose my own melodies as a foil to them.
How does working in Ireland compare to working in Japan?
Having worked previously in Japan, I found
it to be quite similar, except for the environment! In Tokyo,
the studio was in the middle of the city and surrounded by people
and by other buildings. Here, we were in a thatched cottage
on the beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean... During the work
hours of the day, things are naturally similar. In the evening
I was taken to beautiful restaurants in Tokyo. Here, of course,
we did the same but we also visited local country pubs where
people were playing traditional Irish music and singing songs
in the Irish language. People we met were fascinated to learn
that we were working on a big modern recording project down
the road! And of course, Kenichi, Yoko and Yuji were seen as
exotic by everybody we met and people were teaching them phrases
in the Irish language. We all had a great time as well as working
Would you explain how the Uilleann
Pipes work? How similar is it to bagpipes?
The Uilleann Pipes are similar to the Scottish Bagpipes but
are more complex: You can play melody and accompany yourself
with drones whilst also playing a moving chordal accompaniment
of up to three more notes. So seven sounds can be made at any
one time - a very full sound indeed! With the greater complexity
and therefore size of the Uilleann Pipes, there is a common
Q. "What is the main difference between the Scottish
and the Irish pipes?"
A. "The Irish pipes take longer to burn!!!"
When did you begin playing and how long did it take you to master
the Uilleann pipes?
I began when I was seven years old and have been playing for
thirty years. I suppose you could say that somebody has mastered
the Uilleann Pipes when they can make enjoyable music using
all three elements of the instrument: the Chanter, the Drones,
and the Regulators which are the chordal accompaniment part.
The regulators are usually the last element attempted, after
learning to play melody and drones. I began playing them at
the age of 15 but, of course, was terrible at them in the beginning!
I feel that, like any artist, I am still learning and will continue
doing so to the end...
Why do you think Irish music is popular around the world and
I suppose Irish Music is popular because it is just so very
good! It is extremely accessible, has great rhythms and huge
soulful slow melodies. It has become 'cool' around the world
recently but it was always cool to the people who played it
and shared it. All the rest of the world had to do was to listen
in and join the experience. There will often - but not always
- be interesting results when you mix contemporary styles with
music which has been living and developing for centuries. All
of a sudden you have something new, very real but exotic. This
is highly enjoyable but I suspect that the older traditional
forms often stand the test of time better...
Any final thoughts?
Well, I haven't much more to say after all that. Suppose I hope
I never go deaf. Anyway, I really enjoyed the interview, and
love the RocketBaby site, thank you very much.
Discuss this interview at RocketBaby's
would like to thank Mr. Browne for chatting with us.