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Archive for the 'Marches' Category

Here's a swift go at a nice old piping march.

Both Leo Rowsome and Séamus Ennis played this one. Ennis provides the first title above and speculated that it was the clan march of the O'Sullivan's. In the sleeve notes of his 1970s LP 'The Pure Drop' he also provides the titles of two songs to the air, "I'll Marry and I'll Never be a Nun" and "The Better that He Longed for Never Came" ('a song of sentimental pathos' as Ennis refers to the second one with his characteristic drollery).

Patsy Touhey recorded a version of this on a wax cylinder that is part of the O'Neill cylinders. You can here a short sample of that, and the Ennis and Rowsome recordings, HERE.


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The next section of the Fox Chase corresponds to the air of the macaronic song An Maidrín Rua, 'The Little Red Dog' (the name in Gaelic for the fox).

It's a very pleasent tune, and there are several versions of the song. I'm not sure which came first, the song or the piping piece (or the fox or the egg for that matter... foxes come from eggs, right? You'll have to excuse me, I 'm a city boy), but it is a song that many people would have learned in school in Ireland not so very long ago.


Ar ghabháil aduaidh dom thar Sliabh Luachra 'Gus mise 'cur tuairisc mo ghéanna; Ar chasadh dom anuas 'sea fuaireas a dtuairisc Go raibh maidrín rua dá maoireacht

Curfá [chorus]: Ó Maidrín rua, rua, rua, rua, rua, An maidrín rua tá dána. An maidrín rua 'na luí sa luachair, Is barr a dhá chluas in airde.

"Good-morrow fox," "Good-morrow, Sir." "Pray what is that you're eating?" It's a fine fat goose I stole from you, And will you come and taste it?"

"Oh no indeed, ní háil liom í, Ní bhlaisfinn pioc di ar aon chor, But I vow and I swear you'll dearly pay For my fine fat goose you're eating.

Hark, hark, find her, Lily and Piper Cruinnigí na gadhair lena chéile; Hark, hark, Trueman, tá leisce orm cuma, Is maith an fear cú thú Bateman.

Tallyho lé na bhonn, Tallyho lé na bhonn, Tallyho lé na bhonn, a choileáinin; Tallyho lé na bhonn, Tallyho lé na bhonn, Agus barr a dhá chluais in áirde.

Greadadh croí cráite chugat a Mhaidrín Ghránna Do rug uaim m'ál breá géanna, Mo choiligh mhóra bhreátha, mo chearca bhí go hálainn, Is mo lachain bheaga b'fhearr a bhí in Éirinn.




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Anatomy of a Fox: The Jig/ March


(Fig. 1: A fox... please be nice to them.)

No, this is not a post about the contours of an attractive woman's body; it's about the famous (maybe THE most famous) piping piece called The Fox Chase. It's a musical representation of a fox hunt with various parts, sound effects, tunes and motifs. There are different variations on it/ approaches to it that can be broadly classified into broad 'more abstract and musical' and 'more representative with sound effects' groups.

I'm going to be looking at Seamus Ennis' setting (as can be heard on '40 Years of Irish Piping') which falls into the 'abstract' category. You can hear Ennis play it HERE from a live recording made in Miltown Malbay in 1958. Great 'sound effect' versions which spring to mind are Felix Doran's and Finbar Fury's versions (Felix in particular went large on a variety of animal impressions).

The Ennis setting is based around four main pieces of music:

  1. It begins with the jig/march I play here.
  2. It goes into the march.
  3. After some bridges and effects representing horns, the galloping horses and the cries of the dogs and fox there is a lament for the dead fox.
  4. It concludes with the hop jig.

I'll go at each of these tunes individually and then, hopefully, put it all together with all the sound effects and bridges. The piece also has an illustrious piping history, so I'll consider that along the way.


Addendum: As Nicholas points out in the comments, this is not a slip jig as previously reported (I was thinking of the related slip jig). I looked around and this tune is classified as a jig or a march. Ennis certainly plays it at a slowish, stately pace suggesting that it's a jig-time march.


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