The Crested Hens/Les Poules huppées

Here is our last tune of the term, Les Poules huppées which translates as the Crested Hens. It was written in 1983 by French hurdy gurdy player Gilles Chabenat but it has found its way into various traditions. I suggest that it follows Munster Cloak in a set – while Munster Cloak is a mazurka, Crested Hens is a bouree in 3 however I think they go well together, and especially in this order as the complexity of the rhythms builds through the whole set, giving it a sense of direction.

Here is a video of the tune played slowly and then a little faster:

Here are the basic dots, with PDF available to download. I’ve written out the tune in full rather than adding repeat marks, as this makes it easier to demonstrate different options in the development stage!

We discussed various ideas for varying the tune, including subdividing the longer notes, adding fidgets and using a pedal note. Here is an example of how some of these ideas might fit in this tune – please note this is not a definitive version or official alternative, but just something to give you some ideas!

You can download this version here:

Finally, here is a video of Munster Cloak/Crested Hens in a set.

Developing The Munster Cloak

We looked at several ideas for varying the tune, using specific musical landmarks:

Repeated notes – here we tried two different ways of varying the tune. The first option was to combine or tie repeated notes together to create a longer note. This is demonstrated in bar six of the example. The second idea was to insert a ‘fidget’ in between repeated notes, this being a note that it a step higher or lower than the repeated notes. The technical term for these is ‘auxiliary notes’ but I prefer the term fidget as it indicates a reluctance to sit still on one note for too long! These are demonstrated in bar one of the example.

Descending scales – these are often a good place to put a turn, or alternatively a triplet, as these emphasise the smoothness of the melody.

Scales in general – here we added some pedal notes, as demonstrated in bar 12. This is where a note is repeated or held, while the harmony in other parts changes. In this tune, you can try holding or repeating an A in the section from bar 10 to bar 13.

Skips, or thirds – wherever you have an interval of a third (e.g. D to F#), you might consider adding a passing note in between (e.g. to make D E F#). An example can be seen in bar 2.

The idea in general is to experiment with these ideas, and to find the combinations that you like and that work for you on your specific instrument. I’d suggest focusing on one idea at a time and getting comfortable with that before trying the next, and ultimately limiting yourself to a couple of variations per phrase – sometimes less is more! Exploring and experimenting with the tune in this way also helps to internalise and memorise it.

Here is a (slightly rough and rambling) video, demonstrating some of the ideas described:

The Munster Cloak

Here is the video and dots for The Munster Cloak, also known as The Spanish Cloak and An Fhallaingin Mhuimhneach. I haven’t been able to find out much about it; it only seems to appear in manuscripts from the 1960s onwards and there is some suggestion that it originated in Spain, with comparisons drawn to a melody by Spanish composer Enrique Granados (1867-1916). I’ve put a video of this tune at the bottom of the post so you can draw your own conclusions, but I would always resist the urge to fill in the gaps – it’s a tune that’s in the Irish tradition, and it’s gorgeous!

Here is a PDF to download:

Old Lancashire Hornpipe

The third in our trilogy of 3/2 hornpipes – this three-part hornpipe, first published in 1742, has some similar musical figures to the previous 3/2 tunes covered recently and follows on rather nicely from the Rusty Gulley.

Here is a video with a slow and a faster play through, with another faster play through courtesy of Spiers and Boden:

And here are the dots, with a PDF to download:

Next week, we’ll apply some of our 3/2 variation ideas to this tune, and try all three tunes together in a set (Pawkie Adam Glen/Rusty Gulley/Old Lancashire Hornpipe).

Pawkie Adam Glen – developing the tune

In addition to the rhythmic variations we covered last week, there are some nice melodic variations available in this tune. Our first idea was to substitute existing melodic shapes for others in the tune, for example in bars 2, 4 and 8. The second involved substituting a figure that often comes up in 3/2 hornpipes. Have an experiment, try these and the rhythmic variations and find what works for you!

Here is a PDF of the above music:

Pawkie Adam Glen

Here’s another 3/2 hornpipe to go with Rusty Gulley, known as ‘Adam Glen’ or ‘Pawkie Adam Glen’ – the word pawkie means ‘artfully shrewd’ and is still in use in Scotland and northern parts of England, from the English ‘pawk’, meaning trick.

Here’s a video with slow and faster renditions:

Here are the dots, with a PDF below:

You can use the same variations as with Rusty Gulley, subdividing or tying repeated notes for some subtle rhythmic variation.

Exploring Rusty Gulley

On Monday we tried a couple of ideas to vary last week’s tune, the Rusty Gulley. Firstly, rhythmic variation:

What: subdividing notes or tying them together to create longer notes

Where: on repeated notes, on the weaker beats

Here are two videos explaining in further detail:

Subdividing notes
Tying or combining notes

Secondly, melodic variation:

What: transferring existing melodic patterns to other places in the tune

Where: places where there are similar melodic shapes, e.g., scale patterns

Here is a video to explain this a little more:

Finally here are a few examples of the ideas discussed. The emphasis is on experimentation, so see how many combinations you can find!

Rusty Gulley

Here is a fabulous 3/2 hornpipe from Northumbria, the Rusty Gulley.

Here’s a second video, with the chord pattern and rhythm:

And here are the dots:

Here’s a couple of PDFs: firstly he tune, and secondly the different chords that we tried.

Try adding the turns and triplets that we’ve been using recently in places where the melody moves by step, and look out for places where there are repeated notes – we will try some things out with those next time!

Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel

Here is the tune from January 18th’ class, Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel. Despite the title it is a polka – the ‘four-handed reel’ refers to a dance figure and not to the nature of the tune! It goes rather nicely with Grandfather’s Tune and has a similar descending scale pattern that gives lots of opportunities for turns and triplets, as discussed last week. You can also vary the rhythm in the B part, sub-dividing or combining the notes in bars X , Y and Z.

This tune is a little unusual in that it has an extra two beats in the A music. It might be that this was added on purpose to help dancers get to where they need to be in the dance, or it might just be a quirk that caught on!

Herbert Smith (1892-1961) was known as the Fiddling Blacksmith of Blakeney – you can read about him here: https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/h_smith.htm

Here’s a slower and a faster version of the tune:

And here are the dots, with the first set of chords:

Here’s the PDFs of the tune, and the alternative set of chords: