about   david munnelly


David is from Belmullet, Co. Mayo, and was reared in a very musical home learning first hand from his grandmother who taught him a love of traditional music and in particular the love for accordion and melodeon music. Known for his colorful style, which inhales bold bass fingerings, complex arrangements and modern compositions; and exhales hints of the Roaring 20′s and the energy of a box of dynamite coupled with a masterful knack for letting a tune take its own time for a completely unmistakable and brilliant sound. This unique style led David into the world of professional musicianship where early in his career he became a full-time member of Niamh Parsons’ band and others including The Chieftains, De Danann to name but a few.
After gaining ample experience and knowledge from his exceptional peers, David formed the David Munnelly Band in1999 and began a thirteen year journey with his own band touring Europe, America and Japan and recording four critically acclaimed CD’s. Recently David has expanded his repertoire to mainland Europe where he is currently working on several new projects. Along with the most respected accordion players in Europe, David currently performs with the Accordion Samurai, who’s debut CD has won numerous high-profile awards. Over the last few years while experimenting with composition he has also recorded a critically acclaimed recording of new music for solo accordion titled “Aonair” which takes him away from his traditional music roots and with projects like Duo McGOWAN Munnelly and 3’oh  and projects with Belgian singer Soet Collier and Guitarist Philip Masure gives a good variety of his musical tastes.


Calling David Munnelly a box player is – like calling Muhammad Ali a boxer – true but reductive. Of course, as someone who grew up playing traditional music, he plays Irish dance tunes in the style of a box player, and he plays them with a flare and level of mastery you’d expect from someone as talented and dedicated to the music as he is. However, from a young age, driven by an innate musical curiosity and rapidly acquired fluency, Munnelly began pushing his chosen instrument further than most to discover what more it could do, what more it could help him to say. So, more accurately, Munnelly plays the accordion in its fullest international sense. He has absorbed how the instrument is played in many different cultures by many different players, and he has developed his very own way of handling all those influences in his playing, particularly in his almost baroque bass note self-accompaniment. His sound is unmistakably him, but with a deep respect for many other masters coming through, from John J Kimmel to Máirtín O Connor to Riccardo Tesi. He has also come up against the limitations of his instrument in terms of its relatively mechanical nature, and with scientific dedication to perfecting the possible ornamentations, he has made a virtue of those limitations, able to make it sing as freely as many more tactile instruments in other hands.

But if we’re to fully honour his art, we need to say that David Munnelly simply makes music, irrespective of instrument, in the most individual sense. As a musical ear, Munnelly might be said to have always been somewhat restless. He might have heard something in a phrase of a dance tune, for instance, and in his own time followed it wherever it was willing to take him and soon made something completely new from it. His compositional urges – originally expressed as such improvisations and flourishing because of his powerful phrasing and tasteful dynamics – have been unleashed in recent years such that much of his solo music is now uncategorisable; each composition presenting a different musical narrative or drama and covering a variety of moods, often large and ambitious in scope.

-Paul O Connor