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Archive for the 'Reels' Category

Ceo ar a’ gCnoc (Reel)

The title translates into English as 'Mist on the Hill'. This is one of the tunes that Seamus Ennis collected in his legendary expeditions through Connemara.

Jimmy O'Brien-Moran plays a nice version of it on his CD (pictured on a post below) that represents a slightly different take on the melody as played by Ennis on one occasion. It's a very nice reel that goes well with Port na Gioboige - another Connemara dance tune - that I recorded here some time ago.

Regards,

HB.

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The Bucks of Oranmore (Reel)

This reel is quite the piping workout. I like to practice it more-or-less in the Ennis mode (as played here) to keep me thinking about some of the key elements of tight-ish playing styles, and Ennis' approach in general. The more obvious things which spring to mind as occurring in it are; the tightnesses on the bottom hand of the second octave particularly in the 4th part, the ACA tight triplet in the first, the popping of the notes G and F sharp in the second octave, the Ennisean inverted crans-type things, the trill on the high A in the third part, the trills on the E and F sharp in the 4th part...

All the great pipers have played this, and it's a very common tune in Irish music to the extent that it is affectionately known in music circles as simply "The Bucks". A 'buck' in Irish tune nomenclature generally denotes a young man; 'a young buck' is often used in the northern counties meaning a young lad in a similar fashion.

You can see and hear Ennis going to town on this one for a delighted audience HERE.

I tried placing the mic differently on the concert pitch set to get a more ambient sound... what I got seems to be too much drones and a lot of bellows sounds. Ah well. Better luck next time.

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Mama’s Pet (Reel).

This is one of the lesser known tunes that Breatnach included in Ceol Rince na hÉireann attributed to John Potts. I first heard it played by Fermanagh fluter Cathal McConnell.

There are several other tunes called 'Mama's Pet', at least two other reels and a jig. It seems good to me to keep the phrasing of this one quite straight and clear... at least that's the way Cathal played it, so maybe I'm bringing a bit of his fine interpretation into it.

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Jenny’s Wedding (Reel)

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This is another of the tunes that Breandán Breathnach (pictured above) included in volume 1 of Ceol Rince na hÉireann accredited to his old pipes teacher John Potts.

It's a very fine piping tune, and I would have dearly loved to have heard Potts playing it (or indeed playing anything!) The opportunity to play the plaintive, accented C natural against a load of crans and tight-ish high F articulations is very satisfying.

I don't know who Jenny was, but there's a slew of tunes named after her (or after all Jennies in jenneral?) All reasonable revelations regarding her identity and character are welcome!

Regards,

Harry.

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The Pinch of Snuff (Reel).

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Well, here it is such as it is, back after the summer hiatus and a broad raft of technical hitches (which are ongoing!)

This is one of my favourite reels on the pipes, this version coming from Seamus Ennis. It hails from Donegal, and has a fairy abduction story to it involving enchanted snuff. Ennis said that the opening bars of the first part represent the words of the title 'the pinch of snuff, the pinch of snuff, the pinch of snuff...'

I put in the Ennis-type inverted crans here as I think they make for a great rhythmic dog's leg in this piece.

You might notice a strange, aural effect on this recording, especially at the end... I think my computer recorded me on the inbuilt mic as opposed to the nice plug-in one I got. It sounds like somebody lightly playing a new age synth pad behind me where the drones should be. It's obviously the fairies making their presence know, the wee feckereens!

Hopefully I'll be able to put a tune up from time to time when these matters are smoothed out.

Regards,

Harry.

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The Silver Spear (Reel)

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The Leitrim Thrush (Reel).

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Just time for a quick go at a nice Séamus Ennis tune.

I don't hear this one played about the place a lot, which is surprising, because it's nice.

Ennis played this on his LP 'The Pure Drop'.

Regards,

H.

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The Merry Sisters (Reel)

Séamus Ennis played this one. He might have heard it from fiddler Frank O'Higgins who played in The Fingal Trio with his father, James Ennis. O'Higgins recorded it on a 78 record in the 1930s.

It's quite the E cran workout, and I'm adding in some Ennisean inverted D crans which lends an unusual rhythmic kink to the first and third parts.

I'm trying out a Benedict Koehler chanter on this clip.

Regards,

Harry.

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The First Month of Summer (Reel)

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(Image: Tom Busby, Anne Busby (nee Carney), Mike Carney & Pat Lavin circ. 1930s)

This is a reel that I usually associate with the Irish-US fiddlers (Andy McGann et al) and Seán Maguire, but I came across a nice setting on pipes on some old, informal homemade recordings that were donated to NPU by Tom Busby's widow, Anne (see above). This version is largely based loosely on that recording (or what I remember/forget of it!)

In the opening bar I play a 'C . ACA' tight run followed by an 'A . ACA' tightness... which was an interesting challenge of a Saturday morn (I even pull a few of 'em off!)

You can hear Emmett Gill play his take on this one HERE.

Regards,

H.

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This version of the famous reel is based on one of the settings from Séamus Ennis. The first part is quite reminiscent of the version played by Tommy Reck on his LP 'The Stone in the Field'.

It has old piping associations: Francis O'Neill got it from the Co. Mayo piper James O'Brien. The Fiddler's Companion notes that O'Brien's habit of stopping for a wee chat (and a dram?) before he'd finish a round of a tune irritated O'Neill: 

 "...his loquacity was uncontrollable, and he never hesitated under such conditions to express a passing sentiment. Amiable and harmless at all times, he died at a comparatively early age in Chicago, a victim to conviviality, his only weakness."

I was reminded of this one recently on hearing a fine rendition from convivial piper Emmett Gill. Listen to it HERE.

Regards,

Harry.

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