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Archive for February 2015


This is a lovely version of the famous reel.

McKenna hits on a great melodic take on it with some very nice rhythmic 'flutey' devices in the second part where he's hoping between low Bs and second octave notes. He's also playing very fast while maintaining a great pattern of articulation that carries it all along. His rolls are brilliantly articulated and percussive.

Clearly, this version is different than the session-grade standard as, among other features, it doesn't go to the long F sharp at the start of the second part thereby bringing it into the key of D major. In this way it is similar to a few of the old piping versions as played by Seamus Ennis and Tommy Reck.

Going from the F sharps to the high A in the fourth bar of the second part is nice and distinctive, as is his hopping the last runs of the first and second parts up to the high octave. There's a wealth of great melodic intelligence and experience in his couple of minute's music.

In the clip below I play the sort of pulse McKenna employs to lay down the rhythm, then I play an approximation of the basic melody slowly then speeded up. Again, bear in mind that I tend to play more emphatically and with a different tone from McKenna in this regard.


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As for the first polka of this set, in the clip below I play the sort of rhythmic pulse pattern that McKenna employs to get his distinctive rhythm going through the melody as it might be done for the first part of this tune.

In the second bar of the second part we can hear how he pulses through the long, high F sharp. The effect is almost like a triplet in places, and he brings this out further on occasion with a tap of the finger.

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Fig.1: Lassie.

McKenna plays this at an easy going pace with a slight bouncy breath pulse to help it along. I play the sort of pulse employed at the start of the clip below. This is how it might be used to match the melody in the first part of this tune.

Again, he's playing with a great tone here. I like what he does with the long high G in the 4th bar of the second part: he really draws it out and plays it expressively.

The little triplet runs down from the high G elsewhere are also a nice, distinctive touch.


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