Stewart’s Rant

Here’s a Scottish dance tune, also known as General Stuart’s Reel and The New Way of Gildon. It dates back to at least 1749 when it was published in the Menzies Manuscript.

Here is a video of a slower and faster rendition of the tune, with some rhythmic variations in the B section:

Here are the PDFs of the music and the two sets of chords that we used:

Old Joe

Here is a polka that works nicely as a partner to Leather Away the Wattle. I know it from Dave Townsend’s English Dance Tune books though to me, the A part feels possibly Irish and the B part more English. As I suspected they might, efforts to find out more about this tune have proved fruitless. I’ve looked for both the title and the melodic shapes and while it bears similarities to other tunes, there’s nothing there to give any real leads on the mystery.

We played a little with the rhythms in the B part, and added turns and/or triplets in places where the melody moves by step.

Here is a video with a slower and faster version of the tune:

Here are the dots with a PDF below:

Winter’s Night Schottische

Here is a tune that goes by many titles: Rainbow Schottische, Stephen Baldwin’s Schottische and Midnight Schottische. It appears in Kerr’s Merry Melodies book of 1870 and appears to have remained popular ever since in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America.

We added some turns and/ore triplets in places where the melody moves by step but otherwise kept ornamentation and variation to a minimum.

Here is a video with slower and faster versions of the tune:

Here are the dots, with a PDF below:

Leather Away the Wattle

Here’s a fantastic polka from Ireland, first published in 1858. It has many, many titles, including The Grand Old Woman, The Half Door, Lisdoonvarna Polka, London Bridge Polka and Leather The Bottle. A wattle is a stick or truncheon.

Here is a video with a slower and a faster run through:

Here are the dots:

And finally a PDF to download:

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 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:

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: