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Subject: Re: West Cork Reel
From: Deirdre Sullivan & Paul de Grae <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Irish Traditional Music List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 11 Oct 2000 10:07:39 +0100

text/plain (43 lines)

Henrik wrote:
>This one is called "The West Cork Reel" on Tommy Keane's &
>Jacqueline McCarthy's "The Wind among the Reeds" album.

Interesting.  It's much better known, at least
around here, as a polka and in the key of D.
Julia Clifford recorded it that way, untitled, of
course, on "The Humours of Lisheen".  It was
called "The Spailpin Fanach" by Joe Conway
from Rathmore (info from Alan Ward's booklet).

And Joel wrote:
>This tune ( one of the great simple tunes) is in the Joyce Collection. For
>what it's worth, I hear the 'f' in the first measure as an f natural, and
>the 'f' in the last measure of line 2 as being either natural or half-way
>between natural and sharp. Would this make it 'naturalized'?

In A.L Lloyd's "Folk Song in England", he examines
the various modes, scales, etc., used by folksingers.
Having examined and discarded various theories, he
cites Percy Grainger (writing in the early 1900s), who

"concluded that his singers seldom kept strictly to
any 'standard' mode and indeed were likely to vary the
scale in different performances of the same song.  In
short they did not seem to him to be singing in different
and distinct modes, mixolydian, dorian, aeolian, and he
suggested that in fact all English folk songs derive from
'one single loosely-knit modal folk song scale' in which
the third, seventh and, more rarely, sixth steps are
unstable and appear now flattened, now sharpened."

With obvious changes in terms, this seems to me to
apply very well to Irish melodies when played by
traditional musicians on instruments which are not
confined to fixed notes.  A useful concept when some
novice backer asks you what key you're playing in
(especially if your name is Paddy Canny, say).

- Paul.

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