My Darling Asleep

Here is the tune from November 15th, another Irish tune to go in a set with Lilting Banshee. Look for the fidget shapes to add rolls (highlighted example in blue), and for the crotchet-quaver rhythm moving by step (highlighted in red) for adding turns. Some of the turns work better on the fiddle and others work better on wind instruments – try the notated version in the PDF and see which ones work for you.

Here are the dots:

Here is a PDF with some more ornaments written in:

Lilting Banshee

Here is the tune from November 8th, The Lilting Banshee. This is an Irish tune, with a few places to put our specific ornaments in: look for the ‘fidget’ shapes (example highlighted in blue) to add a roll, and for repeated notes in between main beats (example highlighted in red) for single cuts. These are fully notated in the PDF version.

Here’s the video demonstrating the tune:

Spring at Last

Here is the video from Beth’s class on Monday 18th October, with a link to Bandcamp where you can buy the tune book in which it features:

Here are the dots:

Try adding a walking bass line to the A music, as explored in our arrangements of Sir John Fenwick and Star Above the Garter!

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:

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:


Our final tune of the term: Stingo can be found in the 1651 edition of Playford’s Dancing Master, with versions known as Cold and Raw, Oil of Barley and many other names. Here’s a video with demos on the viola this time, for the sake of variety and definitely not because that was the instrument I had out and I’m too lazy to switch.

Here are the dots:

We played with the idea of adding ‘fidgets’ in as melodic/rhythmic variations – where you have two notes the same, try adding a note in between, either going up or down a step. Here is a PDF with some examples in red, and underneath it the PDF of the original:

Finally here’s the fantastic Eliza Carthy version, turned from 6/8 to 4/4 (this whole album is amazing, give it a listen!):

Merry Christmas everyone!

Balance the Straw (Fieldtown)

Our (possibly) last jig of the term is an English Morris tune, Balance the Straw (Fieldtown). The reason for the brackets is to specify the Morris tradition, and to therefore distinguish the tune from others that share the title.

Here is a demo of the tune:

We started by learning a skeleton version of the tune, as written out here. This gives you a sense of which notes are essential, and which can be swapped or even removed.

From there, we added slow skips, fast skips, fidgets, scales and repeated notes to create the full tune:

Here is a video of the walkthrough:

I gave an optional extra challenge of creating melodic and rhythmic variation to the tune. As with Rig a Jig Jig and Dory Boat, we played with substituting some of the melodic figures for others. By ‘melodic figures’ I mean short notable phrases in the tune. Below, I’ve laid out some of these shapes and pointed out which ones you can substitute fairly easily:

Here’s a video that talks through this process:

Finally we have the ornament of the moment – the turn. The turn is essentially made of a start note (G in the example below), a finish note ( an F# in the example below) and extra two notes that come in between. These two extra notes are normally a step higher than the start note and then a reiteration of the start note, and they ‘steal’ time from the first note. They are best used when notes move by step or in small jumps and they can emphasise the smoothness of the melody. Here is an exercise to try (slow and steady, and then faster with the notes pushed closer to the final note:

And finally a video about this ornament. Try it out on all of the jigs from this term, in places where the melody moves by step or in small jumps.

Here are some PDFs of the tune and of the various chord sequences we tried out:

The Dory Boat

A tune to go with Rig a Jig Jig, this is The Dory Boat. It has a lot of the same melodic shapes and rhythms as Rig a Jig Jig, and lots of opportunity for trying out varying the tune in subtle ways. Here is a demo and a walk through of the tune:


Here are the dots, with a PDF to download below:

Here is a video on the melodic variations we tried out:

Melodic variations

And finally a video on jig rhythms and how to play them. A bit fiddle-centric I’m afraid but I’m sure the strummers and wind people can interpret it all!

The nuances of jig rhythms

Rig a Jig Jig

Here’s our opening tune of the term, Rig a Jig Jig it’s an cheerful English jig, with a lot of bounce! Here’s a demo of the tune:

Here are the dots, with a PDF available here:

This tune contains a lot of arpeggio shapes, so I set the challenge of adding some extra notes in between the small intervals that these shapes give us- you might have spotted some of these variations creeping into in my demo video! So for instance, you could add an A in between the first two notes of bar 2, giving you a quaver run of BAG. These subtle little variations are just one way in which folk musicians play around with tunes, and they can be dropped in here and there for variety and as a way of putting your own stamp of individuality on the tune. Try a few out – maybe one every couple of bars or so – and see what you like the sound of!