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Preview: Zing went the Strings!

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Adirondack musicians Martha and Dennis Gallagher will premiere some new harp and 9-string guitar music this Sunday night in Keene Valley. Todd Moe spoke with them about the concert at the Keene Valley Congregational Church at 7:30 p.m. It'll include new solo tunes and familiar favorites. Martha says this will be a rare opportunity for the couple to perform their music together.

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Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

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Martha and Dennis Gallagher met over music many years ago, and according to Martha, they have very different musical ideas. As a result, they haven’t done a lot of music together.

“But we’re finding in recent times that our musical voices are blending quite nicely: our instruments, the harp and Dennis’ nine-string guitar. And so we have been working on a lot of new material and old material, and we’re going to bring it out into the public,” said Martha.

The couple says they will be performing for the fun of it, since playing together in the past has proved difficult. “We tried to write music a long time ago together, for our wedding. And we discovered that that was not a really good thing to do if we wanted to stay married,” said Dennis.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Martha produced a benefit CD, and she asked Dennis to play a song that they occasionally play together: a raindrop song written by Dennis. He said, “We discovered this common voice that we thought was unique and we’d like to put it out there. So we’re trying something new as a couple. It’s a bit of a different voice than Martha’s performance as herself and it’s been fun, actually.”

The couple will be performing some new pieces at this concert. In the past, Martha has done shows that she calls Chaos and Creativity. “And truly, out of chaos does come creativity,” said Martha. “Because for both Dennis and I individually, and then together as a duo, new music developed after Irene. And we both found ourselves individually exploring new styles of music and then realizing that our instrument voices were fitting together really well.”

Dennis has joined Martha in a couple performances recently, and they are exploring the possibility of making that a more regular part of her concerts. They will be going on tour this fall, but will debut their duets in their hometown this weekend.

“We found a common voice that the guitar actually enhances what the harp is doing and vice versa, which we hadn’t discovered before,” said Dennis, who added that this blending of the instruments can especially be heard in the middle section of the raindrop song. He said, “Stylistically, we’re trying something new to see if we can get that blending to occur more frequently in the songs. Martha’s new material lends itself to that quite nicely; it’s more instrumental in nature than what she usually has been doing in performance.”

Martha agreed that the harp and guitar blend nicely together. She said, “It’s interesting with all of those strings, you know with his nine-strings, his unusual nine-string guitar, and my 36 strings, that’s a lot of strings to try to put together in one piece. But because, I guess, the way each one of us tends to play, and then also because we try new approaches, we found that the two instruments interweave with each other really well without stepping on each other.”

Lake Placid will also be hosting the Iron Man event this weekend. Dennis and Martha will be balancing this competition with their concert. “Strings of iron!” said Martha. “Well, you know, in many ancient cultures, or like in Japan for instance, the samurai warriors were expected to be as adept at the arts, music poetry, calligraphy, as they were as warriors. And so to me, it’s a very logical balance for that day.”

Even though the Iron Man competition will necessitate traffic detours, the Gallaghers say that by the time the concert happens in the evening, it shouldn’t be a problem. Martha concluded, “I think it’ll be a lot fun.”

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