Willie Is a Bonnie Lad

Here’s tonight’s tune, Willie Was a Bonnie Lad. It’s a 16 bar reel from England that goes rather nicely with Allonby Lasses and that you can practise your clave rhythms on. It feels rather like a pipe tune to me, but I’ve not been able to find out much about it – I have it in a couple of tune books but there is no info forthcoming! Here’s a video with a slow and a faster run through on it:

Here are the dots:

Here’s a PDF with the suggested emphasis, achieved with accents or slurs/phrasing, your choice!

Allonby Lasses

Allonby Lasses is a reel from the Lake District, from the 1825 Browne family manuscript. It’s is undoubtedly similar to a number of other tunes, specifically the Flagon Reel (present in the 1770 Vickers manuscript from around Newcastle, also widespread across the Scottish Borders at the same time) and the related Flogging Reel (Irish). As I’ve said before, a good tune will travel! It seems to be very much a pipe tune, which would go some way to explain why there are versions in G Mixolydian and G major, according to the limitations/quirks of Northumbrian/Border/Uillean pipes.

Here are the dots:

We played with the emphasis of different notes to create different kinds of drive or groove. Here is a PDF of the things we tried:

Lastly here’s a video: a run though, and then examples of the different emphasis.

Substitutions!

On Monday we explored the idea of substituting melodic figures for others that appear elsewhere in the tune. Sounds a bit complicated, right?

By melodic figure, I mean a short pattern of notes that makes one particular tune to sound like that particular tune. For instance, in The Big Ship there is a melodic figure at the end of the first bar that we ended up calling a ‘tick’ (because if you were to connect the dots, you would create a tick shape):

This shape also features in its inverted or upside down form, for instance at the beginning of bar 4. We can drop this figure into other places in the tune, as shown below. As you can see, I’ve used both a ‘tick’ (red) and an ‘inverted tick’ (blue) and I’ve just put a couple in in each section, so that it doesn’t get too repetitive.

These substitutions work well because they are similar to the basic version of the tune, follow the same direction as the basic tune and don’t change the harmony, as the extra notes come on the quaver off beats. They will also fit if some people use them and others don’t, allowing substitutors and non-substitutors to play together!

We can also apply this substitution to Reel de Gaspe – since this figures comes at the beginning of bar 4, it won’t sound out of place. Here, the ticks and inverted ticks can be used effectively in the B section.

Some tunes have more opportunities for substitutions than others, but you might want to try this one out on The Buffoon in particular – there are many other instances of this figure popping up in tunes we have learned, with some having more space to experiment than others (if you want a heads up, you could try using it in bars 13-14 of Mount Hills, in bars 10 and 14 of Lollipop Man to name but a couple!).

Reel de Gaspe

Here’s a fantastic French-Canadian reel that fits rather nicely with last week’s tune The Big Ship. It’s a well known reel with lots of different versions, some of which have a third and fourth section, but we’ve kept it simple here with lots of space for ornaments and minor variations. You can hear some of these in the faster version in the second half of the video.

Here are the dots:

with a PDF available to download here:

We added turns in places where the melody moves down by step or by small jumps, as demonstrated on the video, and added a few passing notes for instance in between the first and second A sections.

Lastly, here is a link to an amazing video of French Canadian legends La Bottine Souriante that demonstrates the foot percussion that I explained rather badly over Zoom last week: