I used this as an introduction to triple hornpipes at a local session (George & Dragon) and everyone could play it by the end of the evening. They always ask for it now!
Easy to learn
For those who don’t speak Geordie, a "gulley" is a large knife. I don’t think "The Large Rusty Knife" would have had quite the same ring to it…
Is this this written in 3/4?
This is a neat tune but the notation seems to be off - if it is written in 3/2 … Is this the way it’s played or has been written prior to this submission?
3/2 vs 3/4
The convention is to notate them in 3/2, but they get played more as if the notes were half the length (same thing with Irish reels). So some people notate 3/2s in 3/4, e.g. in printed tunebooks.
I personnaly like it in minor and in: ‘2+1/2’ (or ‘4+2/8’)
with an ‘aksak’ feel ratherthan the traditional solfah-ic way of stressing beats in the bar…
I learned this song off of Kevin Henderson, and he told me it was a fairly common tune on the Shetlands. Nice easy tune.
This tune appears as "Risty Gulley" [sic] in the Vickers’ manuscript (1770) but the second and fourth bars of each part (A + B) are very carefully written out as 6/8 bars i.e. two lots of three rather than three lots of two. This makes the tune a million times more interesting and about twenty times harder to play!! The Germans have similar tunes known as Zwiefache. (Zwie implying duality rather than the obvious Zwei meaning two!)
Mixolydian version on borderpipes
Older modal English tunes were often rendered in major keys when the printers got hold of them for their publications. The old country dance tunes were often ‘adjusted’ to suit baroque tastes, and to fit with the emergent European systems of modality and notation when they were printed to follow the upper class craze for peasant dancing that began in the mid-Seventeenth Century. The older modal versions are much sexier than the sanitized major-key versions that are often played today, in my opinion.
The Vicker’s manuscript page can be seen here: http://www.folknortheast.com/archive/detail.asp?id=R0304703 What does the way the notes are grouped with beams tell us ?
Rusty Gulley - Three Sharp Knives
And the 1694-1695 Henry Atkinson ms http://www.folknortheast.com/archive/detail.asp?id=R0115201
T: Three Sharp Knives
GABc d2 G2 d2 G2 | F2 A4 c2 B2 A2 | GABc d2 G2 d2 D2 | D2 G4 B2 A2 G2:|
g2ag f2 gf e2 ag | f2 d4 f2 e2 d2 | c2 dc B2 cB A2 dc | B2 (G2 G2) B2 A2 G2:|
oops, forgot the S: tag. Info is in the first line of the post
There’s no history of this tune being mixolydian before someone tried to squeeze it onto a Scottish-style chanter. It’s not a question of the major key being a sanitized version of something wild, rustic and primal, more a question of misunderstanding. The linked recording is fine rendition, but it’s a fine rendition of a misunderstanding.
The setting currently appearing as X:6 is a different tune, the ‘real’ Rusty according to Vickers as opposed to the Risty according to Vickers. The most recent consensus on ‘Risty’ is that it means ‘mouldy’.
"There’s no history of this tune being mixolydian before someone tried to squeeze it onto a Scottish-style chanter."
Um, the Henry Atkinson ms (1694-1695) is one of the oldest printed versions we have of this tune, and it is indeed written as mixolydian. And when you follow the link to the FARNE (Folk Archive Resource North East) website, they had this to say about the Atkinson ms:
"The book is one of the earliest fiddler’s manuscripts to have survived, and certainly the oldest from North East England. The meticulous bowing indications make it fairly clear that this is indeed a fiddler’s book."
So, it’s not a question of someone trying to "squeeze it onto a Scottish-style chanter" at all.
"It’s not a question of the major key being a sanitized version of something wild, rustic and primal, more a question of misunderstanding."
Based on the fact that the Atkinson ms is our oldest example of the tune, it would appear that Robert_Ryan had it right, in that later versions of the tune were indeed changed to a major key. I’m trying to be as civil as possible here, but it would appear that the "misunderstanding" is yours alone. To be fair, I do tend to gravitate towards
older, funkier, more modal tunes, but I truly do like this tune either major OR mixolydian. Cool tune either way,