A Texas Schottische

Here we have one of my favourite schottisches, which I know as Texas Schottische – it’s not the more famous The Texas Schottische, which is a quite different tune, so I have decided to tweak the title to A Texas Schottische to avoid confusion. A Schottische is a kind of slow polka originating in Bohemia and becoming popular in the Victorian era.

I know this tune from playing for one particular (now defunct) ceilidh band however, I can’t find this tune anywhere else, under this or any other title! I suspect that the title may have been assigned incorrectly, that perhaps it was in a set with the more famous Texas Shottische but a search of Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify etc hasn’t shed any light on the issue, and searches in the Vaughn Williams Library, on Folktunefinder.com and on various other online resources have proved fruitless.

It’s still a cracking tune, and I hope you enjoy it. Here is a video play through:

And here are the dots, with suggested bowing for the fiddle players since the long-short-long-short pattern can cause difficulties. We added single cuts below the first B in bar one of the A section (demonstrated in the video), you might also try adding a single cut above the top Gs in the B section.

Here is a PDF:

The Burning of the Piper’s Hut

This beautiful Scottish tune is somewhat of a curiosity – I first knew this tune from the Robin Williamson Fiddle Tunes book, pretty much as it’s written here, however this version appears to be a rewritten version of an jig by Pipe Major Alexander McKellar (1824-1895). Our version doesn’t show up in any tune books until the 1970s, and it’s not clear who is responsible for this rewriting! The title is also interesting: Williamson suggests that it refers to the English defeat of the Jacobite forces in the mid 1700s – it may be true that it does refer to this time but the tune is certainly not that old.

This tune works well as a march, or slower as an air.

We experimented with adding turns in places where the tune moves by step, and double cuts on the stronger beats of the bar (beat one and beat three).

Here is a video of a slow version (missing a B part I think, apologies!) and a faster version:

Here are the dots:

Major Malley’s Reel

Major Malley’s Reel, aka Major Molle’s, is a Scottish tune by Andrew Gow first published in 1809 shortly after Gow’s death. Molle was an officer in the British army. The tune has since traveled to Canada and England, and we know it was still in use in the 1800s in England, as Thomas Hardy referenced the tune in his 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd.

Variations covered in class include adding turns to notes that are part of descending scales, and rhythmic variations in the B section.

Here is an example of how you might apply these ideas:

Lass of Dallowgill Variations

The ideas used here are the same or similar to those used in Rattle in Cash. This is mostly because the tunes were chosen for their similar melodic shapes, so that they would be good companions – note the removed notes in bar 13 to mirror the same rhythmic feature in Rattle the Cash.

A ‘fidget’ is a note added in between repeated notes, either a step above/below the repeated notes, or a third above/below (a ‘skip’). The scale is a connecting note added in between notes that are a skip (or a third) apart. I’ve written an example below to demonstrate how these might be applied to this tune, averaging one variation per two bar phrase, but try out these ideas in other places to find what works for you.

The Lass of Dallowgill

Here is a jig to go with Rattle the Cash; The Lass of Dallowgill aka The North Skelton Sword Dance. Dallowgill is near Rippon in Yorkshire, and I’ve found references to the tune from around 1914, though it may go back further than that. Here are the dots:

And here is a run through of the tune, slowly at first and then at a more lively pace:

Variation ideas for Rattle the Cash

We looked at three main ideas for varying Rattle the Cash, which are all applicable to other jigs. Firstly, looking for ‘skips’, aka intervals of a third – you can add the note in the middle to make a scale, smoothing out the melody. Or, vice versa, take the middle note out of a scale to make the tune more bouncy. Secondly, look for ‘fidgets’, aka auxiliary notes – take out the middle note for make the tune bouncier or add a fidget note in between two repeated notes to make the tune smoother. Lastly, we tried adding a ‘cut’ ornament in between repeated notes. This works best when you keep the repeated notes in the same bow/breath/bellow direction.

Here is an annotated copy of the tune, to demonstrate how these can be applied. I’d recommend trying one idea per two bar phrase, so that the tune doesn’t become too busy.

Experiment and have fun!

Rattle the Cash

Here is the tune from Monday 19th April. Rattle the Cash is a tune I know from Chris Bartram’s fantastic English Fiddle book.

We started with a skeleton version of the tune, to see the basic structure and repeated patterns of the melody.

We then filled in the melody with scale and arpeggio shapes and with ‘fidget’ shapes (as in the beginning of bar 2). We’ll explore these in more detail next week.

Here is a PDF of the tune:

Here’s a video of the tune, a slow version followed by a faster version:

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: