Ground Dances, Improvisation, and Rock Music: A workshop for young musicians

Sunday 23 May 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
To Register, email

Eamon Sweeney (renaissance guitars), Malachy Robinson (bass viol)

This workshop is especially suitable for young guitar players, cellists and double bass players, although due to the improvisatory element of the workshop, all instruments are welcome.

In the 16th & 17th centuries an exciting new style of music swept across Europe. Based around repeating chord patterns (referred to as ‘Grounds’) – and generally featuring a strummed guitar – these dances were often used for improvisations and drew inspiration from the new rhythms and dances imported from the New World, Africa, the Canary Islands…

Many of the chord patterns from this Baroque craze are still around today in blues and rock tunes and in songs by groups like The Beatles, Bob Marley & The Wailers, and Led Zeppelin.

These grounds are easy to learn and fun to improvise to! In this special workshop, Eamon and Malachy will introduce young musicians to some Grounds and improvisation possibilities. Participants will receive pre-recorded materials in advance of the workshop to help them play along with Eamon and Malachy during the workshop.

This workshop is part of Galway Early Music’s Early Music for Young Musicians project.  To register please email Helen Hancock –


Eamon Sweeney was awarded the first musicology PhD to be accredited by DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. His doctoral thesis, The Guitar and its role as an accompanying instrument in seventeenth – and early eighteenth-century France, investigated the five-course guitar’s role as a continuo instrument in the court of Louis XIV, a hitherto unexplored area of French baroque music and early guitar performance practice. Eamon has lectured and given seminars on Baroque guitar performance at Dublin, Dundee and Bath International Guitar Festivals as well as for DIT and UCD. Eamon received his BMus (1st Class) in Guitar Performance from Trinity College, Dublin and DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and has since performed on stage, radio and television, both as a solo artist and with various ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra and Opera Theatre Company. Eamon teaches music with Co Wicklow VEC and is part of the duo Tonos (with Roisin O’Grady) who perform music of the 17th century.

Malachy Robinson (bass viol) is a dedicated chamber musician, as passionate about Early Music as he is about New Music. He is a founder of the Gregory Walkers, a group performing Early Music from Ireland and beyond (in which he plays the viola da gamba) and is director of the Robinson Panoramic Quartet, a revelatory alternative to the standard string quartet. With the Far Flung Trio he explores extended roles for the double-bass in multiple genres, and they have recently released an eclectic, vivid album, Live at the Large Room. Principal double-bass with the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 1995, he is also a founder member of the cutting-edge Crash Ensemble as well as appearing with period-instrument orchestras such as The Sixteen, the English Concert, the OAE and the Academy of Ancient Music. He is involved in music education, coaching string players for the Dublin Youth Orchestras, the National Youth Orchestra, the IAYO orchestra, ICO’s sing out programme, ConCorda chamber music school, Ceol na Mara summer school and others. He has also been involved in many workshops for schools with numerous organisations, including the National Concert Hall, Music Network, Music Generation and Galway Early Music.



Sun 23
2:00 pm