Kendra Leonard: “American Folk Rock Cattle Raid: The Decemberists’s The Tain”

We at The Avid Listener are delighted to bring you yet another fabulous essay about music and literature by Kendra Preston Leonard. This week Kendra takes on the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge, a story set in the 1st century CE. She looks specifically to a stop-motion animated / musical setting by The Decemberists. Here’s a teaser: “[This story] is one of the oldest in Irish literature and has been translated into English several times. In The Decemberists’s video, the artists include a simplified version of the story using intertitles—a technique from silent film where frames of text help viewers understand the action sequences. The video is divided into four “cantos” or books, but the music is really in five parts, each with varying narrators.” Kendra takes us through each part, chronicling the many musical styles the Decemberists use to illustrate the drama.

One of the things I love about editing essays for The Avid Listener is learning about topics I never knew existed. I was unfamiliar with this legend and had never heard of the band; yay for learning new things! You can read the entire essay here. We hope you will share it far and wide.

Stay tuned next week for Andrew’s last essay of the season: “Bromantic Singing: Madrigals and Authenticity.” You read that right: BROmantic.  You are going to love this essay.

The Avid Listener: Listen. Write. Discuss. Repeat.

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