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 Folktunefinder.com 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:

The Burning of the Piper’s Hut

This beautiful Scottish tune is somewhat of a curiosity – I first knew this tune from the Robin Williamson Fiddle Tunes book, pretty much as it’s written here, however this version appears to be a rewritten version of an jig by Pipe Major Alexander McKellar (1824-1895). Our version doesn’t show up in any tune books until the 1970s, and it’s not clear who is responsible for this rewriting! The title is also interesting: Williamson suggests that it refers to the English defeat of the Jacobite forces in the mid 1700s – it may be true that it does refer to this time but the tune is certainly not that old.

This tune works well as a march, or slower as an air.

We experimented with adding turns in places where the tune moves by step, and double cuts on the stronger beats of the bar (beat one and beat three).

Here is a video of a slow version (missing a B part I think, apologies!) and a faster version:

Here are the dots:

Major Malley’s Reel

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:

Grandfather’s Tune/Sheep Shearing

Here’s Grandfather’s Tune, aka Sheep Shearing, a polka from England. It was recorded for the 1941 Voice of the People series by the Dorset Trio.

Here’s the video demo:

Here’s a short video on the triplets and turns that we added to the descending scale patterns in the tune:

Here’s a PDF :

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.

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:

The Big Ship

Here’s a fab reel to see us into half term; The Big Ship also known as Glise de Sherbrooke, La Grande Chaine and Reel de Tadoussac. Many of you will know the first section from the children’s playground game and song The Big Ship Sails on the Ally Ally-O (or Illy Ally O, or Eely Ally O etc), a thread-the-needle game found across England, Ireland and Scotland which dates back to at least 1916 when it was published in a book of London street games (children’s games were not a source of interest until relatively recently). There is much debate and speculation over what the Ally Ally O refers to, with no definitive answer. The thing I find more interesting is that this tune is often cited as being French-Canadian in origin. I haven’t been able to find out anything more the journey this tune has taken around the world, but it’s certainly in the Canadian, American and English repertoires still.

Here is a demo of the tune with slow and faster version:

Here are the dots:

And a PDF of the tune and chords are available here:

We had two challenges with this tune. The first was to take out as many notes as possible to create a basic skeleton of the tune. There are many reasons to do this as an exercise but here we looked at a) creating a basic version into which we could slot different melodic figures later on and b) taking out just a few notes to create an immediately usable melodic variation of the tune. More on this later in the term! The second challenge was looking a ornaments, applying the turn ornament and introducing a double cut to emphasise notes on the main beats of the bar. Here’s a short video to explain:

The Bourton Six

Here’s a tune to go with Ladies’ Breast Knot. The Bourton Six in question seem to be the six bridges that span the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. The tune itself is a version of a tune that was widespread across Europe in the 19th century, it is also known as I Have a Jacket Made of Blue, and the Liberton Pipe Band amongst other titles. It originated in what is now Poland, specifically the Krakow region, as a tune for a dance called a Krakowiak. There is a video at the bottom of this post showing some tiny and adorable dancers dancing to a version of this tune.

Here is a slow and a faster version of the tune – forgive the title on the video, autocorrect got the better of me. Note the passing notes and the turns, as discussed last week:

Here are the dots:

We experimented by adding passing notes in between small interval and turns in places where the melody moved by step or small interval to create subtle variations.

As promised, here are the tiny, adorable dancers:

Ladies’ Breast Knot

Here’s the tune from Monday 5th’s session, Ladies’ Breast Knot. It seems to be a widespread tune, with versions found across England, Scotland and North America. There are various versions dating back to the mid-1700s, making it a country dance tune and not a polka (oops!).

Here’s a demo of the tune, a slow version and a faster version, with the dots below.

Here’s a PDF of the chords, mine and the ones printed in the fantastic Dave Townsend’s English Dance Tunes book:

Challenges were adding some connecting notes in places where there is a gap of a third (so G to B for instance) and adding turns in places where the melody moves down by step or by small jump, for instance on the F# in bar 4.