I had come across Ebudae in Ariosto’s classic tale of Orlando Furioso, the island thought to be intended as one of the Hebrides, referred to as the Dreadful Isle or the Isle Of Tears. I had fallen in love with the name, and when sometime later I was browsing through an old book of ancient maps, I was delighted to find Ebudae actually recorded and in this original form! The title of the song ‘Ebudae’ and the lyrics concern themselves with ancient sounds.
There are two ‘voices’ which work their way through the piece. The first voice concerns itself with the story – which is loosely based on the tradition of women weaving and chanting to the rhythm of their work. The second voice is a mixture of sounds and fragments of sounds half-invented, half-remembered from childhood. As is often the case, what one actually hears and what one thinks one hears can be two very different things. With this rhythmic section we try to capture those impressions.
notes by Roma Ryan
Shepherd Moons music book, 1991
Quotes about the song
Nicky Ryan: "The rhythm, in fact, is weaving. That’s what inspired the rhythmic side of it, is weaving cloth. And that’s exactly the rhythm they set up when they’re weaving."
Enya: "Ebudæ was used before, because Ebudæ was in ‘Orinoco Flow’. "Ebudæ unto Khartoum" was one of the lyrics Roma had. And Ebudæ is an old Latin name for the Hebrides. And, there’s a big connection from where I was brought up, County Donegal, and to Scotland. There’s a lot of families that have, um, that have emigrated to Scotland. Therefore, there’s this big connection with, uh, the fact where I come from Gaelic is the first language. And for some people, their Scotch Gaelic is their first language. And I always found, um, Scotch Gaelic has this… it’s more rhythmic to the Gaelic music."
Nicky Ryan: "So you actually have the two dialects. There’s, there’s the Scots Gaelic in one part. There’s the flowing Irish in the other part. But the rhythm’s maintained throughout. No words involved, it’s sounds. Mouth sounds. But with a lot of rhythm, which people would dance to. Because it simply wasn’t, it was against the law to play an instrument in Ireland at one stage. Totally against the law to even own one. So people invented their own music — through their mouth."
Enya Celtic Choirs, NPR, 1991
Amharc, mna ag obair la’s mall san oich,
ceolann siad ar laethe geal, a bhi,
Bealach fada annon’s anall a choich.
Look, women are working each day and into the night,
they sing of the brighter days that were,
the long road, back and forth forever.
lyrics by Roma Ryan
EMI Music Publishing Ltd, 1991