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Archive for the 'Reels' Category

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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Kitty in the Lane (Reel)

I heard this tune first from an old recording of a Séamus Ennis recital. If I recall rightly he had a verse to the first part for the occassion that went something like:

Kitty in the lane, I better put it plain,

For Kitty's in the lane and she hasn't any britches on.

Our Gaelic poets didn't sweat too long over that chestnut; and something tells me that, had Séamus been in closer company, Kitty may have been missing a garment more intimate than her britches...

However, it's a lovely old piping reel that was also in the repertory of Rowsome and Clancy.

Regards,

H.

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Within a Mile of Dublin (Reel)

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(Popular Irish postcard image of Sean McAloon)

Neil suggested this reel for inclusion and I'm happy to oblige as it's a great piping tune, and it's also nice for concert pitch (which I'm trying to play a bit more of these days).

You can hear the Fermanagh-born piper and pipe maker Sean McAloon play an interesting setting of this reel HERE.

McAloon lived much of his life in my hometown of Belfast. He was a big fan of Leo Rowsome's style of playing, as can be heard in the fine, flowing rendition linked to above.

Regards,

Harry.

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The Flax in Bloom (Reel)

Well, here's that nice elegant old reel that I was inspired to revisit after listening to Gay's performance below.

My fist at it is very much after Ennis who really made a piping meal of it.

This reel too has strong associations with Scotland and was recorded by the greats such as Coleman, Morrison and Conlon in the 78 era. I probably learned it first on flute from that fantastic rendition on Tansey's 'The Best of Seamus Tansey'.

Regards,

Harry.

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