Dragon Voices: the giant Celtic horns of ancient Europe

People of Celtic culture all over ancient Europe were fascinated by lip reed instruments, and made great horns and trumpets in many forms – including the carnyx, a two-metre-long bronze trumpet surmounted by a stylised animal head. One of these was found at Deskford, Scotland, in 1816 and reconstructed in the early 1990s; it is joined here by the magnificent Tintignac carnyx, discovered in southern France in 2004 and reconstructed specially for the current project. A new reconstruction has also been made of the Loughnashade horn from Ireland, with its exquisite decorated bell disc.

Recent developments in music archaeology have vastly increased our knowledge and understanding of both the physical construction of these instruments and their likely playing techniques. John Kenny has specialised in their performance for a quarter of a century, and his newly created music explores their uniquely expressive sounds in solo, duo and ensemble textures, drawing upon Celtic mythical characters, echoes of ancient ritual in modern society, and impressions of real places in Ireland, Scotland and France.

"an intriguing series...documented in a lively manner"

"Nearly 70 minutes of mind-bending music played on instruments you’ve never heard of sounds like a hard sell, but this is one of those releases which will have sensible listeners whooping with delight...A magical experience, and not just for brass players."

"we owe both John Kenny and the others in EMAP a debt of gratitude for bringing these ancient beasts (as the dragon-head bells would indicate) back to life"


"This Volume 3 in Delphian's groundbreaking series dedicated to this unique voyage of discovery findsJohn Kenny specializing in new performances for over a quarter of a century and his newly created music explores these uniquely expressive sounds in solo, duo and ensemble textures, drawing uponCeltic mythical characters, echoes of ancient rituals in today's society, and impressions of real places in Scotland, Ireland and France.Off the beaten track material in the real sense of the word, but for those who wallow in the joys of past cultural mysteries and their unraveling, this issue is a must"


Producer: John Kenny & Rupert Till
Recording venue(s): University of Huddersfield Recording Studio
Recording dates: 18-20 November 2015
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 21
Release date: 30 September 2016
Total playing time: 1:06:44
Album ID: DCD34183

Featured interview

John Kenny on the carnyx

John Kenny talks to the New York Times about playing these ancient instruments.

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