Bunting seems to have left us a quite complete and relatively authentic notation of
the bass part for this piece. If we assume the Féachain Gléis to be a version of Port
Priest, this would seem to allow a unique opportunity to envisage something of the
relationship between the magadising harmonisation of the Scottish lute arrangements
and an Irish harp bass. Such a relationship could otherwise only be surmised
The harmony in this analysis is seen as being reduceable to at least three theoretical
triadic chords built on A, G & E. A fourth built on D is very likely as it appears as a
bass note in the lute versions. The triads are defined through intervals between the
treble and bass lines and through chords and arpeggios in the bass. Bass notes are
defined as those written in the bass clef, and treble notes as those in the treble clef.
Melody notes can be in either treble or bass.
The chords usually seem to move per semibreve or minim duration. For most parts
of the Féachain Gléis, the bass provides a very clear relationship between the chords
and many of the crotchets or the first notes of each ligatured group. But in some
parts of the arrangement, the bass notes or chords seem incongruous with the
stresses of the treble melody. In these areas, we cannot be sure of the theoretical
harmonies but we certainly have some options to choose from.
Certain areas of the table show a conflicting harmonies between the harp and lute
settings. The A dyads in the bass of Hampsey's harp set particularly seem to
contradict the stresses of the melody to a not insignificant degree. The context of the
dyads are worth examining as the first appears counterposed to more appropriate D
sonorities in the lute sets. It is with good reason that Bunting remarks on 'the total
absence of the chord of the subdominant', ie D, in the arrangement.