Vocal Chords begins Friday May 1st 7 pm

  |   Vocal Chords


Iarla Ó'Lionáird on tour with the Gloaming
Photo by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Vocal Chords is a five part music documentary series for RTÉ lyric fm presented by acclaimed sean nós singer, Iarla Ó’Lionáird from The Gloaming.


In a global journey Iarla explores whether singing is man’s primary means of communication and why we sing in both times of joy and sorrow. In a vocal landscape from the sean nós tradition in Ireland, to the Zulu Mbube music of South Africa, Iarla talks to outstanding performers including Peter Gabriel, Sinéad O’Connor, Christy Moore, Frances Black, and Maria Pomianowska to uncover the story behind song, singing and the unique vocal styles of the world. This series takes listeners on a rich audio experience while addressing the simple but vital question, ‘What happens when you sing and why do we sing?’

Episode 1 of Vocal Chords explores the idea that, as anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen says, to look at the voice is to look at what it means to be human, while New York vocalist Meredith Monk talks of singing as joining the “world vocal family”. Iarla Ó’Lionáird explores our journey of voice and sound – and finds what unites us and divides us. As Belfast composer Brian Irvine put it, “Singing is just a subsection of the way people use their voices… you talk, scream, cry, shout and wail”


The first episode of the series will air on Friday May 1st at 7pm on RTÉ lyric fm and continue until Friday May 29th. RTÉ lyric has already broadcast two one hour specials featuring Iarla in conversation with Peter Gabriel and in conversation with Sínéad O’Connor . You can learn more about the vocal chords series here.

Iarla visits Peter Gabriel for Vocal Chords special

Vocal Chords is an Athena Media Production for RTÉ lyric fm made with the support of the BAI and the TV licence fee.