Here is a fantastic polka from West Kerry in Ireland – I’ve only heard it called ‘West Kerry polka’, and though it’s similar to John Cronin’s No.1 the B parts are quite different. We tried pushing the chords in the B part, anticipating the changes and making them early by one quaver. This tune went well with Tralee Gaol from July 7th 2019.
Here are the dots with a PDF available here:
This is one of my favourite slipjigs, the fabulously named Trip to Marrowbones, also known as Four Bare Legs Together and as The Raking Quality. It comes from the 1770 Northumbrian manuscript from William Vickers. This is the F major version, there is another where most of the Fs become F sharps, taking the tune into G minor. We recorded this G minor version for the Stepling album as part of our ‘Saucy Set’, this can be found here at 1:35. For clarity I’ll not post the dots for that version just yet, I think we need to let the major version settle first! I had thought that I had learned this from an Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr album, but this doesn’t seem to be the case – goodness knows where it came from!
Here are the dots, with filled-out chords, PDF can be found here:
Another Scottish tune for Burn’s night, and a strathspey this time: this is Stumpie. It seems to be related to the tune Buttered Peas, with versions played in Northumbria and the east coast of Canada, specifically Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island.
Here are the dots, with a PDF available here:
With Burns night approaching, it seemed appropriate to learn a Scottish tune; this tune dates back to at least the early 1700s, remaining popular for quite some time as it was used in several ballad operas in the 18th century as well as being used as a retreat march by the British military, specifically by the 37th Regiment. It was printed in many books across Scotland as well as making its way into a few English books too.
The PDF can be found here. We used two basic accompanying rhythms for the drums and guitars:
Monday 6th January was our first week back and we covered a range of tunes, starting with the Plane Tree jig and its possibly original 4/4 counterpart Schottishe a Bethanie (video link to the fabulous Mel Biggs of Morai and ‘Pick Up and Play’ fame). We used this tune as inspiration and the second half of the night was taken up with Kit White’s no.2, which we recapped and then collectively turned from a polka into a jig.
I’ve roughly notated the various stage we went through to reach the end product; at stage one we played even quavers in 6/8 to fill out the bars, at stage two we simplified the rhythm and at stage three we replaced key patterns with ‘hill’, ‘ditch’, ‘zig zag’ or scale shapes. Each replacement was selected from two or three options presented by me and voted on by the group – the title refers to the idea that a camel is a horse designed by committee!
Dots in PDF form can be found here.
Here is the tune from Monday 4th November, Lancashire. This tune is from the 1838 William Irwin manuscript, a collection from Cumbria. I learend it from fiddler and clog dancer extraodinaire Toby Bennett. Here is the video:
And here are the dots, with a PDF version here.
Here is the post for Monday 21st October tune, The Grand Hornpipe, also known as Henry Stables’ Grand Hornpipe, The Devonshire Lads and known in Wales as Mympwy Portheinon. It seems to have been revived from a Cumbrian collection of tunes from the late nineteenth century, and is popular in England and Wales. Here’s the video:
And here are the dotes (PDF available here), with some of the rhythmic variations we tried out on the night. The quavers are swung, and the bowings/slurs are a slighly simplified version of what I tend to do in hornpipes to avoid running out of bow!
Lemmie Brazil (short for Lementina which seems to be spelled variously as Lemmy or Lemmie, and Brazil is pronounced Brazzle) was a melodeon player and singer from a large Gypsy family who travelled throughout England and Ireland. You can read more about her here and she can be heard playing melodeon here:
Here is the video from Monday 14th October:
And here are the dots, also available as a PDF here:
Here is the tune from 7th October’s class: The Doctor. It’s a tune from Aird’s Airs and Melodies Book of tunes from England, Scotland and Ireland but I’ve also found it in the 1823 Jackson manuscript from Wyresdale, Lancashire.
Here are the dots, with a PDF available here.
Here is the tune from Monday 30th’s session, with apologies for the late posting. This is a tune by Peter Barnes, it can be found in the book “The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest”. Peter says of this tune: “I actually wrote this tune on the fiddle when I was trying to teach myself that instrument in the mid ‘70’s. I made it easy to play on the violin, which may account for its totally unexpected popularity. Since then it’s been recorded eleven times (usually without my permission!) and has had two dances choreographed to go with it.”
Here is the PDF file.