Around 2015, he started to play “The Liffey Banks,” Mr. Potts’s only commercial recording, during long sessions of improvisation. He read about the fiddler’s life and eccentricities: his dislike of playing with other musicians, his refusal to play for dancers.
“He was never comfortable performing in public,” the prominent Irish fiddler Paddy Glackin, who collaborated with John Cage on the score for “Roaratorio,” said in a phone call from Dublin. “He needed a sense of warmth around him.” By playing alone, in the cocoon of someone’s home, Mr. Potts could follow his own musical byways without having to make compromises. He was an outsider and an insider all at once.
Having found an affinity with Mr. Potts’s unconventional playing style, Mr. Dunne decided to make a work in which he could engage the music on his own terms, through dancing but also through a kind of conversation across time and space. A professor at the University of Limerick, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, gave him access to a large archive of informal recordings and interviews, which Mr. Dunne and his sound designer Mel Mercier wove into a score containing not only passages of Mr. Potts’s playing but also his voice.
With humor and a touch of good-natured acerbity, the two converse and even argue over the finer points of their craft. “There’s something to what people say about folk music,” says Mr. Potts in a recording. “It’s monotonous.”
“I quite like a bit of repetition,” Mr. Dunne retorts, with a dry chortle.
Mainly, though, the conversation occurs through movement. Mr. Dunne plays excerpts from Mr. Potts’s recordings and dances to them, sometimes barefoot, sometimes in sneakers and finally in traditional Irish reinforced shoes, which produce a more distinct tapping sound. He lays down different surfaces to further alter the sound, which ranges from almost silent, to whisper-like, to sharp and dry. He has lost none of his speed or accent, though the dancing is less hard-charging now.