Hop Jigs

At the LVISS yesterday we learned a tune called “Top the Candle”–a hop jig in D. What IS a hop jig? Good question. Without going to deeply into music theory, I would say that hop jigs are kind of like faster, syncopated slip jigs. It’s kind of like the way slides are like fast jigs with fewer notes. Anyway, there’s definitely a difference in feel between slip jigs and hop jigs. Case in point–The Butterfly is a tune that’s played both ways, and one of our anchors was kind enough to record both versions for us–check it out:

The Butterfly

Here are some examples of hop jigs from YouTube:

For discussions about what hop jigs are, see thesession.org.

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Táim Ciaptha ag an bPort seo le Déanaí

The Humours of Lisadell. It’s a reel with lovely, almost elegant, easy movement. It has such a nice shape to it. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to play though! I first heard it (to my memory) at a house concert featuring Edel Fox on concertina and Neill Byrne on fiddle. Here’s a link to the recording I made of the tune. Feel free to download that.

Here’s Neill and Edel playing it live again, with Josh Dukes on guitar, and much better audio:

A tin whistle version:

 

 

 

The Mountain Road

There’s Something so satisfying about this reel. The rolling, bouncy A part is like the rhythm of walking on a crisp, sunny morning on hard packed dirt through the woods. The B part speaks of cresting a rise to see the valley spread out below, or laughter as it echoes off the trees. Ted taught us a two part version of this tune–the most common version–at the last session, but our member Mary swore she had heard a 3 part version somewhere. She found it here:

Good on ya, Mary! Ted’s splendid version can be downloaded at the tunes page. Enjoy!

Strike the Gay Harp

I was listening to an album by Kevin Crawford called In Good Company today, and this one jig stood out to me, and it turns out it’s because my musician friends play it at sessions. It’s called Strike the Gay Harp, and I love it. It has three parts, in the key of D. Here a link to a recording of my friends playing it, and a few videos from YouTube for your viewing and listening pleasure. Tell me what you think of it! I’ll post a vid of me playing it soon! But first–

My friends playing Strike the Gay Harp.

 

Tommy Coen’s Reels

I recently learned two reels from my fiddle teacher, both called Tommy Coen’s reels.

According to “The Fiddler’s Companion:”

Coen was born in Urrachree, East Co. Galway, but moved with his family to Salthill, just west of Galway City, in the late 1920s. He started out as an accordion player, but later switched to the fiddle and it is for his skill on the latter instrument he is remembered. Coen worked as a conductor on Connemara buses and is said to have been inspired by the local scenery when composing his tunes. Flute player Mike McHale was overheard to tell a story about Coen during a concert at the East Durham Irish Arts Festival in 2000 (communicated by Mike Hogan). McHale was a boy who had picked up the tin whistle, and was entertaining himself by noodling around with it during his bus ride on his way home from school. Hearing him, the vehicle’s conductor approached him a asked, “Can you play that thing?” McHale answered, “A couple of tunes, Sir.” “Well then” said the conductor, “My name is Tommy Coen, will you come to the back of the bus, I have a fiddle under the seat.” Later, according to his student Séamus Walshe (Taylors Hill, Galway), when Coen’s health failed he returned to accordion playing, “putting his fiddle playing into the box. I think he wrote a total of about six tunes.

In this video, I know the first as Tommy Coen’s (or Sean Ryan’s,) and the second as Tommy Coen’s #2. I learned them both in G minor–not sure what key the video has them in. Really nice playing here, though. Enjoy!

Apples in Winter

It hardly feels like winter here, or well, I should say it hardly looks like winter–there’s little snow, but the temperature is low enough. This morning as part of my second breakfast (yes, I am a giant Hobbit) I had an apple. And just two days ago I was playing the concertina and this tune, Apples in Winter, spontaneously popped out of it. So of course, I took that all as a sign that I should share this tune with the world. It’s a wonderful and not difficult jig in E dorian.

I first heard a two part version of this tune played by Edel Fox and Neill Byrne at a house concert a few years back. I have a recording so I was able to learn it. There’s also a four part version. Here are a few examples–not Edel and Neill, but good ones nonetheless. Note how there are a couple variants of the ending of both the A and B parts.

A four part:

Our pal Gilles Poutoux:

Paddy Cronin: