Standing in the Shadows
The musical ability of Tom Duncan is mesmerizing, lavished with tints and hues that paint a landscape filled with sound and texture. In the simplest of terms, Duncan is a harper. However, his talents go far beyond that of just plucking strings to create a melody. Duncan wears many hats in regards to his musical career. He is a musician, a composer, a craftsman and, most importantly, he is The Harpdude. Duncan began his career as a pianist. Naturally taking to the instrument as a child, he established a natural feel for technique and skill. Studying piano at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, Duncan developed a loving interest for historical instruments. Throughout the years, he has written music for various pop and classical performances, plays and video productions. His recordings for videos and plays have featured him playing various acoustic instruments and synthesizers. Duncan's love for Early Music led him to conduct research on the instruments themselves and how they were created. He began his own collection of tools and expanded his skills into one of a craftsman, making his own folk harps; the one's you see him transporting into concerts, coffee shops, and various events. It's this process that transforms him into the Harpdude, performing a variety of traditional and personally composed pieces, many of them you will find on his debut CD 'Harpdude'. Tom's ist CD 'Harpdude' paints the sites and sounds of Scotland, Ireland, and England, as well as songs originally-written and composed by Duncan. Highlights of the CD include two songs by Scottish writer Neil Gow, 'Farewell To Whisky' and 'Neil Gow's Lament on the Death of his Second Wife,' a gorgeous version of 'Blind Mary' by Irish composer O'Carolyn, and an elegant rendition of the English song 'Come Live With Me and Be My Love.' Quickly after the release of Harpdude, Duncan was invited to tour various parts of Scotland, including a bill on the legendary Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival. He also performed at the Fringe Review that was broadcast live by the BBC. His performances generated positive reviews by the press including a glowing review in The Scotsman and The Herald. Sue Wilson of The Scotsman wrote that Tom's performance of Niel Gow's 'Farewell To Whiskey' was 'tempering appropriately elegiac melancholy with a fondly reminiscent flavour.' As for the concert in general, she wrote that he 'played with a fluent, expressive technique.' Duncan also gave a well-received concert in Inverness at the Balnian House - The Home of Highland Music - a building that is part concert hall, museum and teaching staff all dedicated to the music of the Scottish Highlands. He wrapped up his tour of Scotland with a performance at the Borders Books and Music store in Glasgow. Harpdude has raised some impressive critiques from the local and national media. Kathy Barnard from Branches wrote in a review, 'Duncan's playing combines sensitive and soulful expression with an impressive, fluid technique. The selection of tunes reflects a wonderful depth and breadth of knowledge of traditional Celtic music, and a strong relationship with the folk harp'. Susan Hartman wrote of Tom's original compositions in Dirty Linen magazine. ' Two compositions by Duncan bring a very different approach to the instrument: They incorporate modern influences from other cultures and additional instruments, most notably guitar and synthesizer. Traditionalists beware, but those with a more open attitude might find his pieces to be an interesting bridge between trad Celtic and new age'. Tom's New CD 'Standing In the Shadows' is a unique collection of 14 original instrumental pieces by Tom. These songs span styles from folk, jazz, pop, classical and Indian influences. Duncan's forceful performances on harp are augmented by his guitar, piano, synthesizer and accordion playing. He is joined on various numbers by violin, flute, bass and tabla.