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Archive for January 2015


This second reel of track 6 is a setting of a tune more commonly called 'The Hare's Paw'.

Corry is an area on the north shore of Lough Allen in County Leitrim not too far from where McKenna was reared.

In the clip below I initially play the sort of rhythmic pulse which includes McKenna's unusual phrasing in the first part (where he takes a long breath/break after the long G).

I generally play this rhythm a bit more emphatically than McKenna does, and I'm playing with quite a different tone, so the effect is different in certain respects.

McKenna's accuracy and tone on the E rolls in this tune is top class.


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This is another famous track where McKenna alternates flute with lilting... good crack! This first tune of track 6 is otherwise know as 'Johnny With the Queer Thing' ... the sailor lads above seem to be enjoying themselves.

What's apparent on this track is that the tone he's getting is really classy: clear as a bell and very consistent (I don't aspire to that sort of tone, so the difference will be apparent in my effort below).

This version is a bit different to standard session settings of the melody. The A rolls and the little drop to the C sharp are nice touches in the first two bars of the second part, and he throws in a surprise variation on the final run of the second part in his third time round on the flute.

In the clip below I play a slowed down example of the sort of articulated breath pulse that he employs to get a nice, jaunty rhythm, then I play the melody slowly then up to speed.


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This is the second reel in the Rollicking Irishman set.

McKenna leans into a bit more of a swing rhythm on this, and it's a tune that lends itself very nicely to that on the flute.

His breaths stick almost exclusively to the ends of the four bar phrases of the melody in contrast to the last one where he avoided doing that so as to have the first and second parts flow into each other.

As in some other tracks he's playing C natural quite sharp, an effect that I've approximated by playing the C natural cross-fingering with just one finger instead of two. He does consistently play C naturals in other places, so the sharp C naturals are likely just a feature of an intonation that he preferred in certain tunes.

Again, this is played on a flute pitched in F made by Tom Aebi.


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...Now, there's a right decent rollicking Irish chap for you.

This is McKenna's setting of a reel which seems quite related to big reels like 'The Merry Harriers' and 'The Merry Sisters' (it's all very merry).

Couple of things that my lug notes here:

1. McKenna is not playing this with the vigourous swing rhythm that he employs in other reel performances. He's playing more straight to the down beat (ONE two ONE two ONE two...) I play a bit of that sort of pulse at the start of the clip below.

2.Phrasing (i.e. both the melodic phrases of the melody AND the places where he takes breaths): He avoids taking breaths at the ends of the parts so as to retain the nice dynamic thing in the melody where the parts are propelled into each other. Also, he does his 'big dramatic pause/breath' thing at the end of the second part every time round of the tune. He does this in other reels too. He doesn't really need to take a breath that long, so it's likely just a quirky feature of how he phrased things, and it serves to announce the end of one round of the melody and propel it into the next round after the stop.

BTW, McKenna plays this on a flute pitched around F so, for a change, I play the clip below on an F flute made by Tom Aebi.




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