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Archive for May 2011

The Donegal Reel.

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A comment from Buzz under the Fermoy Lasses post prompted me to go back listening to some old recordings of Tommy Reck. Tommy was from the Liberties in Dublin and was a student of old John Potts who impressed the young Reck with his tight playing style. Tommy retained this favoured style of piping even after becoming a student of Leo Rowsome whose approach was generally more legato. The Potts influence is evident on Tommy's recordings which include 78 records made for Gael Linn in the 1950s. These were reissued recently on Gael Linn's Seoltaí Séidte collection.

This rendition is based on Tommy's playing of it on the LP 'The Stone in the Field' (which is sadly overdue reissue!), with some Ennisean twists and other bits thrown in. I'm going to go at a few Reck pieces over the next while. His phrasing and restraint is very elegant, and his playing in general is fantastic.

Regards,

H.

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The Old Tipperary (Jig)

Well, we haven't had a jigeen in a while, so here's another piping classic.

My setting of it is a bit closer to how it's commonly played in sessions as opposed Willie Clancy's lovely, lonesome take on it (recorded 1967, that you can listen to HERE... there's a great wee twist right at the end. Magic!), but I borrow a few turns, like the tightnesses on the 'C's and the staccato triple 'A's and that.

BTW, the recent Rapture was so ineffective that it did not even properly smite my tainted tenor drone reed as previously reported. After some expert advice from Joe Kennedy I treated it myself and, on the third day, it rose again!

Religion, eh? I'm going to make a point of being thoroughly unsure of things from now on in.

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The Fermoy Lasses (Reel)

This is a fairly standard setting of a famous old piping reel. Canon Goodman collected a version of it in the mid 1800s. A lot of the famous players recorded it- the Dorans and Willie Clancy and Touhey spring to mind in particular.

It's a good E cran workout... or if you like the wilder sound you can do E rolls off the knee ala Johnny Doran (sounds too off-the-wall on my narrow bore chanter!)

Regards,

Harry.

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Murphy’s (Hornpipes)

Michael Coleman recorded this one on the fiddle way back when. It has all of the characteristics of a nice piping tune and it seems to have classic piping lines.

I think I first heard it played on pipes by Padraic MacMathuna, but was reminded of it more recently when I stumbled across THIS video of another Pádraig,  Pádraig McGovern, doing a nice job of it.

After a 'bad reed' week my tenor drone finally died and so it's not performing on this clip at all. I blame its demise on the Rapture; it probably deserved it.

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The Spike Island Lasses (Reel)

Here's a nice, dynamic piping reel that Willie C used to play.

I can't remember what tape it's on though; maybe some obliging boffin will put me straight on that.

Spike Island is a small island off Cork that boasted a nice correction facility affectionately known as "Ireland's Alcatraz". In older times people used to be held there before being packed off on penal transportation.

It's a wonder this tune made it out at all. Maybe it floated over to the mainland on a raft made of coconut shells?

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This is a famous Clancy reel that's often named after the great Sean Reid, but it's also associated with Willie's father, Gilbert.

Have a listen to Willie play it HERE.

Here's a picture of Sean (above, right) giving some piping pointers to a diligent Turkish student.

The reeds have gone a bit spongy or something today, they're not responding very well. We're having funny (funny strange, not funny 'ha-ha') weather this last week or so and it's upsetting the cane I think. We all need a holiday in the sun methinks.

Regards,

H.

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This is Seamus Ennis' three part version of the famous dance tune and song air. Look at him up there tootin' on a ciggie while on duty!

It's a hop jig, but it's often considered a slip jig as collectors have lumped hop jigs in with slip jigs due to them having the same time signature. As any musician worth his/her salt knows though hop jigs like this one, 'Top it Off', 'The Butterfly', 'The Dusty Miller', 'I'll Comb My Hair and Curl It' etc etc have a totally different phrasing, rhythmic emphasis and general feel to slip jigs.

There's a little section in the second part that's a bit tricky on the chanter. You have to drop from the high A to the low A by stopping the chanter momentarily where there's really no accommodating gap for a stop.

That's it now.

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The Dawn (Reel)

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This is roughly based on Leo Rowsome's very fine version of it recorded, I think, in the 40s.

I've heard it said that fiddler James Morrison composed it, but I'm not so sure of that.

It presents a few challenges to the errant piper; not least of these being the third octave D (...listeners probably deserve some sort medal in advance of any reward going to the kamikaze pipeist)... What can I say, I'm not a morning person.

Regards,

H.

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Dublin Porter (Reel).

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Here's a nice tune that was popular in sessions a few years back. It's associated with County Kerry and the great Padraig O'Keefe (above).

I've never really heard it played on the pipes, but it seems to suit the chanter quite well. An alternate title is 'The Dublin Porter House'. I'm still reeling from the effects of a recent late night in Dublin (I don't drink porter, thanks be to Jeebus), so that's all the nomenclatural ruminating for today!

Regards,

H.

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The Night of the Fair (Jig)

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I was reminded of this tune last night on hearing Leo Rickard, the North County Dublin piper, play it on RTE's 'Ceili House' programme. I think it's one of the tunes on Leo's new CD (pictured above).

I first heard it from Belfast/Cork fluter Hammy Hamilton. Hammy recorded it in flute/fiddle duet with the late Seamus Creagh (RIP).

It's an easygoing sort of a tune. Nice for a Sunday afternoon.

Regards,

H.

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