Feed on
Posts

Archive for December 2010

Sergt. Early’s (Jig)

This tune boasts a nice bit of piping pedigree too.

Early was born in Leitrim, but did the hop to the States and became a celebrated policeman. Of his friend Francis O'Neill offers these glowing words:

"A piper and a lover of piper music, kindly, unassuming, patient, tolerant, helpful, and hospitable—such is James Early as a man among musicians.

Free from professional jealousy, a proverbial affliction, he has been to the Union pipers of America what the lamented Canon Goodman was to the pipers of Ireland a generation ago—their unfailing friend in distress. An expert at putting a demoralized set of pipes in order, he had no superior as a reed maker, and although he had no monopoly in this line of delicate workmanship, the difference between his dealings and that of some others was the difference between liberality and covetousness, or between candor and duplicity..."EarlyMcFadden.jpg

More at: http://billhaneman.ie/IMM/IMM-XXII.html

(...Kudos to Bill H again!)

This tune appears in O'Neill's collection, but I heard it first from recordings of Willie Clancy (it's on the first track of the recent RTE double CD Clancy collection) and seem to recall Tommy Keane playing it also. I've been meaning to go at it for a while on the chanter. Willie's version has a couple of nice turns that don't adhere to O'Neill's transcription. It sits well on the chanter and is enjoyable to play.

Regards,

Harry. 

Read Full Post »

Just time for a Christmas swiftie...

This is no. 50 in Mitchell's 'Dance Music of Seamus Ennis' under both titles above.

Strangely enough Seamus Ennis considered this to be a hornpipe ('Pat Ward's Hornpipe'). It's certainly more popularly considered a reel these days. In reel format it's commonly known as 'The Boys of Ballinahinch', among other nice things. Packie Dolan recorded a very tasty and memorable version of it back in the day under the handle 'Mullins' Fancy'.

Ennis' name on it lends it some intriguing piping provenance... mmmmmm... I'll mull over that and try not to whine.

Happy Christmas to one and all.

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

The Laurel Bush (Reel)

... or 'The Laurel Tree'. I was recently reminded of this one by a cracking rendition of it provided via a whistle by a chum (what a convoluted sentence!)

No pipes rendition of it springs to mind. I associate it with the recently departed Peter Horan and his once duet partner Fred Finn, and Matt Molloy did an outstanding job on it with the Bothies of course.

This one's for you, Peter: May you never sleep under a bush for want of a Jamie!

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Billy McCormack’s (Jig)

This tune was collected by O'Neill from the piper of the same name. It's also sometimes associated with Paddy Cronin. Presumably Paddy lifted if from O'Neill (he has a great eye/ear for tunes from old manuscript and has found some hidden gems therein).

I can't tell you anything about Billy McCormack... BECAUSE A 'FREIND' OF MINE BORROWED MY COPY OF O'NEILL'S 'IRISH MINSTRELS & MUSICIANS' AND NEVER GAVE IT BACK!... oh, I've just found it all online at good ole' Bill Haneman's site (but feel free not to disregard my previous statement re the book. You know who you are.):

It would be invidious to omit the name of “Billy” McCormick from the list of pipers of prominence in the city of Chicago. He hails from the historic city of Waterford, in which he had learned the printing trade and other arts. Originally a fine free-hand fiddler, his fondness for his favorite instrument forced him to follow the footsteps of Tobin. Like the latter also, his practice on the pipes commenced in mature manhood, although his present proficiency would indicate a much earlier acquaintance with the intricacies of the instrument.

With the cooperation of his faithful friend “Jack” Doolin, McCormick managed to get possession of a splendid set of pipes specially made by Taylor for his pupil, “Eddie” Joyce, who died in 1897, and thus equipped he has attained the ambition of his life.

Unlike others whom we might mention, “Billy” McCormick is not afflicted with temperamental infirmities. In fact he is one of the most amiable of men, always companionable and obliging, and as he holds a permanent position in the municipal service, his music on either instrument is always on tap for his friends.

As a musical missionary his coming is always an occasion for rejoicing. He accompanies the playing of others on the pipes or piano with his fiddle, or performs on the pipes while others play the accompaniment, but the most delightful results are obtained when Miss Theresa Geary, a charming violinist and pupil of the Chicago Musical College, swings in on the reels, jigs and hornpipes, which she plays so skillfully while the talented Miss Nellie Gillan presides at the piano. Then there IS music.

Not the least of McCormick’s claims to consideration is the training he is giving his son Hugh, who is already quite expert in the fingering of a chanter.

From: http://billhaneman.ie/IMM/IMM-XXII.html

...Nice one, Bill.

At any rate, there is a contemporary Billy McCormack, a piper from the North of Ireland who, by a very strange coincidence, ended up with old Billy McCormack's set of Taylor pipes. It's too good a story to rehash poorly via this medium though. It involved busking and a nun.

It's a nice jig. My playing of it here is a bit stiff (it's damned cold here!), and I've changed a few notes around as usual.

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

JWChanter.jpgThis reel goes well on the chanter I think. I'm not sure where I heard it although I think Matt Molloy may have recorded it. There was an old whistle player from Ballymote called Jimmy McGettrick who learned music off Matt's uncle, so maybe there's a connection there.

Your ears deceive you not! I'm playing this on a concert pitch chanter by Jim Wenham. It's in blackwood and brass with boxwood mounts, scalloped tone holes and has a C key. I'm selling it (650 Euro plus shipping... any takers?), so I wanted to put a clip up here as a sample (although I'm not very used to playing in D). Very nice stick. Notes are true and it has a big, rich sound. Maybe I'll put up a photo when I've more time (see above... you can't really miss it).

I'm busy this weekend, so I'll not have another tune up til next week.

Have a good'n!

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Aggie Whyte’s (Reel)

This one is associated with the Ballinakill (Co Galway) fiddler of the same name.

I can't recall if I've heard it done on the pipes. Nothing springs to mind at least, which makes this entry somewhat easier on all concerned.

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Tuaim na Farraige (Hornpipe)

The name of this tune translates like 'The Sound of the Ocean', but it's usually called 'The Atlantic Roar' in English. Seamus Ennis played it and, if I recall correctly, referred to it as 'The Atlantic Sound'. Ennis likely got it from Frank Cassidy, a master fiddler from Teelin, Co Donegal, who Ennis held in very high regard as a musician.

It's said that the impression of this one came to the Lifford fiddler Anthony Helferty after he'd fallen asleep by the sea on his way home from a house dance. I wish I dreamed things like that; usually I just dream about unexpectedly appearing in public places in my underpants, or of doing pointless tasks like writing a tiresome blog about Irish piping... hold on a minute!

Look out for some hairy tuning on the regulators; they say the worst things happen at sea (in C?)

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

The Yellow Wattle (Jig)

Here's my effort at Willie Clancy's lovely primordial sounding setting of this jig (no. 147 in Mitchell's 'The Dance Music of WIllie Clancy').

A wattle is a fleshy growth hanging from the head and/or neck of a chicken... but it's usually red. Wattle-and-daub is an ancient wall building technique where a mixture of mud, straw and cow pooh is smeared over interwoven wooden rods to harden... still not sounding very yellow to me. What seems most likely (at present) is that it refers to the tree called 'Golden Wattle', of the acacia family, whose yellow flower is the national flower of Australia.

Wikipedia informs me that the tree was grown in temperate climates for its bark which was a good source of tannin. The flowers have been used in perfume making.

There you go now, enter a pub quiz immediately.

I could have got a bit more technique going on in this one, but I decided just to put down the second take because I enjoyed playing it.

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Wallop the Spot (Jig)

This is a popular flute and fiddle jig from round the neck of the woods where I now live (Co Roscommon; near Boyle, Gurteen, Tubbercurry etc). It's often coupled with another jig juxtapositionally entitled 'Spot the Wallop', but that's another day's work.

I've heard Néillidh Mulligan playing this one, and I think he recorded it too. It suits the pipes well, in my head. More questionable regulator filler here, but I suppose it's good to blow the dust out of 'em from time to time.

I'm not going to rant about the state of the Irish nation today because it's the weekend, so you can relax (they haven't started taxing relaxation yet... but there I go again.)

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »

Farewell to Erin (Reel)

I associate this tune with Willie Clancy and Tommy Reck, although it's also popular on flute and fiddle. A transcription of Clancy's lovely flowing version of it can be found in 'The Dance Music of Willie Clancy' (no. 27). Reck had quite a different take on it. My effort here probably owes a little to both (but don't go blaming them!)

There are a few reels called 'Farewell to Erin', hardly surprising when you consider how many people were required to do a runner. It took me a while to get the pace of this right (or right-er at least), which was a good exercise in discipline. I find the pipes to require levels of discipline that the flute doesn't demand (or maybe I just never did it on the flute). Besides the obvious physical requirements of the instrument (all the various bits) that have to be more-or-less working there are many more 'variables' to consider when actually playing music on the things. Anyway, I won't go on about it. I like this melody very much. It sounds very positive given the subject matter... maybe, as I fear may be the case with many Irish people now, the emigrant was looking homeward to the West Coast of Clare, Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Donegal, Cork slipping away thinking to him/herself something like 'To hell with that place, I'm going to live somewhere where I'll at least have a fair shot at it, where I'll be afforded some bit of human dignity'.

Regards,

Harry.

00:0000:00

Read Full Post »