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:
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.
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:
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.