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Teada keeps traditions alive

| Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005

The music of Teada is helping span generations and centuries, says the band's fiddler, Oisin Mac Diarmada.

"What we're trying to do is help keep the great Irish musical tradition alive across the world," he says.

Teada will make its first visit to the Pittsburgh Irish Festival as probably the event's most-traditional band, playing some songs that are 150 years old as well as new ones that sound that way, Mac Diarmada says.

He says he used to be fearful that more rock-oriented Irish bands would hurt traditional music by stamping out interest in it.

But he has discovered there is an audience that prefers the older material as well as one for the newer.

"You just have to give each artist the freedom to do what he wants," he says in a phone interview from Dublin. "Rather than worry, we just focus on what we're doing."

The band is only four years old, but band members approach music with a sense that is much older. Mac Diarmada says that is simply a product of his interest and that of Paul Finn, on button accordion, Damien Stenson on flutes and whistle, Sean McElwain on bouzouki and guitar, and Tristan Rosenstock on bodhran.

They got together to do some work on a television program, Mac Diarmada says, and found it comfortable to keep performing.

The likely instrument that has been left out is the Uilleann pipes, which Mac Diarmada feels comfortable omitting. He says the pipes would give a band a classic sound, but also limits keys in which tunes can be played.

That doesn't limit their look at the music, though. The band, for instance, is able to perform a classic tune, "The Ace and the Deuce of Piping," convincingly without the instrument.

"We just walk into it a different way," he says.

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