Féachain Gléis shows important stylistic congruence with features which appear
either in the versions of the pieces previously studied in this series of articles or
with stylistic details in the MSS in which they are found.
tendency of the 3rd to appear between the two hands when the melody
note is the third note of a hypothetical triad
5th between the two hands
3rd, 4th and 5th in the bass
use of bass arpeggio chords
staggering of melody between the two hands (malairt phonc?)
There is also potential evidence of:-
'open' gracings in the treble
metrically steady harmonic movement
generally close relationship between melodic stress and vertical harmony
The metrical version of the piece seems to show that the Féachain Gléis made
more steady use of chordal harmony than any of the pieces studied so far. This
may be related to its function as a tuning test and may not have been a norm for
other kinds of pieces.
The relationship to Port Priest has been discussed and the possibility that the right
hand chords were originally octave doubling in the bass or even single pitches.
This may have led to the obscuration or loss of a postulated D sonority in the piece
due to the bass being driven by melody, as A sonorities appear in the bass where a
D sonority might expected.
The bass chords most often have a stepwise pitch relationship with each other but
the sense of magadising (moving in parallel intervals) between treble and bass in
the lute arrangements is compromised by the 3rds and 5ths between treble and
bass at the stressed points of many phrases in the harp arrangement.
The use of the third of a triad in the right hand in Gaelic bass can perhaps be
described generally as follows: it appears to be favoured either
• as a bass note magadising with the treble or
• often as the top note of a single hand chord or
• as part of a struck triad above the C below middle C