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Thanks, Barry. I agree with your conclusions, even though I draw from 
somewhat different experiences and sources.

Here are a couple bits of data towards your particular O'Neill 
conjecture. All of the following claims are of course limited to the 
scope of my database:

92 reels have 3 or more parts (i.e. one or more parts labeled C, D, etc.).

30 of those can be found in either or both O'Neill's 1,850 or 1,001 
books (aka MI and DMI).

However, only 24 of those 30 actually had 3 or more parts in one (or 
more) of the O'Neill settings of the tune. I.e., 6 of the 30 reels only 
had 2 parts in the O'Neill setting.

Here are the 24:

ID# 	Title
241 	Bucks of Oranmore
248 	Bunker Hill
360 	Colonel Fraser
385 	Contradiction
436 	Cup of Tea
554 	Dublin Reel
608 	Farewell to Ireland
643 	Flogging Reel
659 	Four Courts
750 	Gooseberry Bush
929 	Jenny's Welcome to Charlie
1003 	Jolly Tinker
1050 	Kiss the Maid behind the Barrel
1127 	Limerick Lasses
1252 	McFadden's Handsome Daughter
1275 	Merry Sisters
1308 	Miss McDonald
1384 	Musical Priest
1677 	Tear the Calico
1967 	Trim the Velvet
2536 	New Road
3158 	Sleepy Maggie
4833 	Western Lasses
4927 	Chorus Reel

Whether O'Neill himself "artificially" pasted together these multi-part 
tunes or not is a question for other experts who (unlike me) are versed 
in pre-1900 tune histories.

- Alan


[log in to unmask] sent on 1/20/10 5:39 AM:
> Alan, that's mighty work!  Many years ago, I came to the conclusion (without much formal analysis) that AABB or AB was the 'real' structure for Irish dance tunes and that most of those that didn't fit into pattern were put ones put together by O'Neill.  I've never had the time to test this thoery but your researches might throw some light onto this conjecture.
> 
> I was interested to note also the postion of 'Miss McLeod's' in your top reels, : as recorded, I think it came 3rd, largely due to recordings from older generation musicians; not surprisingly in view of this, it came nowhere in the 'as played in sessions' category.  Yet, in the past, it was the absolute number one tune for dancing (even known in Conamara as 'the Dancing Reel', I believe) and, even today, around my area, if we have to play a tune for an impromptu figure of a set, it is always 'MM'.  I once asked piper/flute player Michael Falsey from Quilty (now aged over 80) if he played medleys of tunes for the individual figures of sets and he answered that he would nearly play 'MM' for all the reel figures!
> 
> However, a few years ago, when I was running a session for local young players, I hardly found any of them that knew 'MM' - sure, they knew all the latest by the 'in-group' of the day but the 'old time' favourites seemed to be dropping out.

-- 
____________________________________________________________
Alan Ng, PhD  .  Madison, Wisconsin, USA
[log in to unmask] .  http://www.alan-ng.net