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Archive for June 2011

gimlets.jpg

(fig 1. Gimlets: Size isn't everything)

This is one of my favourite tunes that Willie Clancy played. It was also recorded under the title 'The Munster Gimlet' by Patsy Touhey which resonates with a verse that Clancy had to the tune:

Kitty come down, come down,

Kitty come down to Limerick.

I knew by the glint in her eye

That she wanted a touch of the gimlet!

A gimlet is a hand tool for manually boring into wood. In the spirit of the last post (I swear, Dr. Freud, that this dubious connection was not intentional!) I'll leave you to make any lewd poetic connections as your disposition dictates.

Regards,

Harry.

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This is an old piping tune that was one of a collection taken down and published from Piper Jackson in the second half of the 18th Century. Sean Donnelly points out that it is related to the antique tune 'The Black Joke' (after the song, 'joke' deriving from 'joak', a defunct and extremely bawdy slang word for... something very fundamental to our human existence and nature...)

No mortal sure can blame ye man, Who prompted by Nature will act as he can / With a black joke, and belly so white: For he ye Platonist must gain say, that will not Human Nature obey, in working a joke, as will lather like soap, and ye hair of her joke, will draw more ye on a rope, with a black joke, and belly so white.

It's one of a number of set dances in jig time. This version is based on Seamus Ennis' playing of it.

Regards,

Harry.

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The High Level (Hornpipe)

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This is another from Tommy Reck's LP.

It was composed in the 19th Century by James Hill, a Northumbrian fiddler noted for his hornpipe compositions. The title celebrates a fine bridge over the River Tyne in Newcastle.

Tommy plays it with two parts, as did Johnny Doran on the recording of his up-tempo setting of it. There is a third part that would seem to be a later addendum.

Regards,

Harry.

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The Queen of the Rushes (Jig)

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Tommy Reck as part of a group of musicians from Dublin's Abbey Tavern.

This is another tune associated with Tommy Reck that's on his LP linked to below. It used to be played quite often in sessions a few years ago, but it doesn't seem so popular these days. Planxty recorded it in the same key as Reck, and It's also played on flutes & fiddles etc in the key of G.

Tommy does a lovely variation on the second part on his repeat where he alternates the dominant D and C natural notes to great effect. Nice old tune on the pipes.

Check out an interesting take on it HERE.

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Polka (Tommy Reck)

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This nice old polka is another from Tommy Reck's 'Stone in the Field' LP.

It's one of the very few recorded examples of polkas played on pipes from that era; polkas didn't seem to be a big fixture in the piping repertory.

Reck's playing of it, again, is the picture of taste and restraint. He gets a solid rhythm and the little tightnesses he inserts between notes makes for lovely dynamic tension in contrast to the jaunty rhythm and vented held notes. Great music.

You can buy the tracks, or listen to samples of 'em all, HERE.

This polka is the first tune on the 'Two Polkas' track.

Regards,

Harry.

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Trim the Velvet (Reel).

Still coming to terms with the D 3/4 set...

This reel is probably most famous as being one recorded by Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman. I never really settled on a right 2nd part so went snooping around and arrived at what's played here; which is a bit different to what is generally played in sessions (more-or-less after Coleman). Seamus Ennis played the 2nd part more like this, and it's closer to the version collected by O'Niell from another Ennis, John Ennis, the emigrant fluter and piper.

Regards,

Harry.

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Down the Broom (Reel)

This is a nice old version of the famous reel that came from Seamus Ennis. If I recall rightly Ennis announces on some recital tape or other that he collected it from a fiddler... but time plays tricks. There are quite a few nice settings of this tune still extant and I'm inclined to think that it was a very popular melodic theme in the past.

Yes, do not adjust your set, this IS being played in concert pitch. Today I took delivery of my concert drones from pipemaker Makoto Nakatsui in Japan, and a fine job he did too!  Makoto also kindly loaned my a couple of regulators to try out although, as you can hear, I'm not feeling very brave on them yet.

It'll take me a while to get used to playing this fine instrument, and recording it, but I think that's a process that I'll quite enjoy.

Regards,

Harry.

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The Cook in the Kitchen (Jig)

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In contrast to the previous fairly obscure piece, this one is a well-known piping favorite played by many.

The version I play here is pretty much after Tommy Reck's nice, elegant version of it to be found on his 'Stone in the Field' LP.

One of the pre-electric wax cylinders recordings that we have of piping is of this tune being played in great style by Bernard Delaney (above). It was recorded in Chicago maybe as early as 1898. You can listen to it HERE.

Among the many interesting features of the performance is Delaney's very fluent use, in the second part of the tune, of a tight GAG triplet much in the way that modern players after Ennis, Clancy et al might play tight triplets on BCB or ACA, preceding the B or A, in place of a long roll.

Regards,

H.

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The Jolly Old Man (Jig)

Departing for a moment from Tommy Reck tunes, this is one that I heard from Pat Mitchell.

You can see him playing it live at a recital in Milltown HERE (go to 2:00 mins).

Pat got it from Matt Kiernan, the Dublin pipemaker who made the nice C chanter that Pat plays in the footage linked to above.

It's to be found in O'Niell's book under the title provided. A nice, old fashioned sounding jig.

Regards,

Harry.

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The Kilfrush (Reel)

This is another tune from Tommy Reck's LP 'The Stone in the Field' (Green Linnet).

Tommy would have gotten this one from his first pipes teacher John Potts, also a Liberties man. It's one of the tunes that Breathnach accredited to Potts in Ceol Rince na hÉireann (in volume 1 that is - Breathnach had also been a pipes pupil of Potts').

It's quite a straightforward tune, nice to play, and Reck's tight note pronunciation in the second part really brings it out. His preference for E rolls (as opposed crans) is quite evident here and it seems to suit the flow of the melody.

My regs come across a bit strong on this one. Maybe it's the good weather imbuing my elbows with renewed virility.

Regards,

Harry.

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