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).