The Best ITM Tune-Learning Tutor

Monthly Archives: May 2014

79th’s Farewell to Gibraltar (A)

“79th’s Farewell to Gibraltar” was composed by Pipe Major John MacDonald in 1848, and played often at sessions in Edinburgh.  It is sometimes called “the finest pipe march ever written.” He composed it upon the occasion of the regiment’s receiving orders to leave “the rock,” their post in Gibraltar. The 79th Regiment, which is more […]

If We Hadn’t Any Women (G)  

This tune’s title invites some speculation.  As the consequent is left unmentioned, it seems the whimsy of some beleaguered husband.  What follows would be seriously bad, of course, his reverie notwithstanding.  The title is similar to that of the novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979) by Italo Calvino (1923-1985) except that unlike the […]

(The Merry) Durham Rangers (D)  

The “Durham Rangers” is the second in a set of Germans on Ceol Aduaidh (1983) by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy: the set being “Maggie’s Lilt / The Durham Rangers /If We Hadn’t Any Women.” As a German this is a co. Donegal melody, and seems to belong to the “Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine” tune family. […]

Maggie’s Lilt (D)  

This is the first tune in a set of Germans on Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy’s CD Ceol Aduaidh (1983). Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Mar-aid ne Mooney) learned the tune from her father Proinsias Ó Maonaigh (Francie O’Mooney). As a tune-type Germans are a little like a hornpipe but without as much swing, and can also be […]

Forgotten Fling (G)

I picked up the “Forgotten Fling” from Kilnamartyra, Co. Cork, fiddler Connie O’Connell on his CD Ceol Cill Na Martra (2000).  I don’t know much about it, except that the name of the tune is antipodal, a philologists joke.  In Nietzsche’s old unfinished manuscripts, including odd bits of paper with writing on them, an archivist once […]

Rolling in the Rye Grass (D)

Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) remarks in his book Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1915) that “Rolling in the Rye Grass” was a well-known reel in County Cork when he was a boy – the mid-nineteenth century.  Accordionist Johnny O’Leary (1923-2004) remembered that in his last year of life Kerry fiddler Padraig O’Keeffe (1887-1963) was often asked […]

Hag with the Money (Dmix)

“Hag with the Money” is tune #721 in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903) and tune #21 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907).  The title, “Cailleach an Airgead” in Irish, comes from lyrics set to this tune, and the tune is popular in Connemara according Mick Conneely. Petrie (Complete Collection, 1905) prints the tune under the title “I Was Born […]

Burnt Old Man (D)

When I first played this tune, Becky Pringle called my attention to an old Civil War tune, a close variant called “The Campbells are Coming” (G) that is still often played by fife and drum bands.  In the 1950s the tune, at least the A part, was used in a Campbell’s Soup commercial for Scotch Broth. […]

Jig of the Dead (Eaeol)

“Jig of the Dead” goes well, both melodically and thematically, in a set with “Haunted House” and “Halloween Jig.”  Like the first of these tunes, it has an interesting story to go with it. Harry Bradley writes: Seamus Tansey informs us that [this jig] was employed for an unusual funeral rite performed in the countryside […]

Bottom of the Punchbowl (G)

The reel “Bottom of the Punchbowl” can be played as a reel or a barndance.  O’Farrell (c. 1805) lists the tune as Scotch.  It was composed by the Chamber Composer for King George III, James Oswald (c. 1711-1769), who was from Dunfermline, Scotland  but moved to Knebworth, England in 1741. He published much of his work […]