The Carolan guitar is somewhere nearby today. Take a moment to sit, sit down somewhere quiet and listen to some gentle celtic tunes while you read more about the unusual instrument and the music it plays.
Every guitar tells a story, from the tonewoods that form it, to the craft of its making, to the players that own it, to the places it visits, and to the many songs that it sings. Carolan is a unique guitar in this regard; one that has been created with the express purpose of capturing and telling its own life history. Our guitar is named after the legendary composer Turlough O’Carolan, the last of the great blind Irish harpers, and an itinerant musician who roamed Ireland at the turn of the 18th century, composing and playing beautiful celtic tunes. Like it’s namesake, Carolan is a roving bard; a performer that passes from place to place, learning tunes, songs and stories as it goes and sharing them with the people it encounters along the way.
This is possible because of a unique technology that hides digital codes within the decorative patterns adorning the instrument. These act somewhat like QR codes in that you can point a phone or tablet at them in order to read their codes (see below) which in turn accesses information on the Internet. Unlike QR codes, however, they are aesthetically beautiful and form a natural part of instrument’s decoration.
Now watch and listen to Carolan being introduced and played by Tim Edey, BBC Radio 2 Musician of the Year in 2012.
You can learn more about Carolan and follow its story at its own personal blog.