The Tolka polka

There are 9 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Tolka has been added to 127 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: The Tolka
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ Gd|AB GE|
A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ Gd|BA A2:|
|:d>e fa|ga fd|g/e/d/c/ Bd/c/|B/A/G B/A/G/B/|
A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ Gd|BA A2:|
|:e>f2/g2/ f|d e>f2/g2/ |fd f/g/f/e/| dc B(d|
d) c/B/ cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ Gd|BA A2:|
ABC
X: 2
T: The Tolka
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:e>f g |d e> fg |f d g>e | dc B(d|

d/2) c/2 B cg|de cA |B/2 c/2 B/2A/2 Gd|BA A2:|
ABC
X: 3
T: The Tolka
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:e>fg fd | e>fg fd | f/g/f/e/d cB | d>cB cg |
| de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | BA A2 :|
ABC
X: 4
T: The Tolka
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | AB GE |
AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd |1 BA e/d/c/B/ :|2 BA A2 ||
|: de fa | ga fd | g/f/e/d/ cd/c/ | B/A/G c/B/A/G/ |
AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | BA A2 :|
M: 5/8
efg fd | efg fd |
M: 3/4
f/g/f/e/ dc Bd |
dc/B/ cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd |1 BA A2 :|2 BA e/d/cB/ ||
AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | AB Gd |
dc/B/ cg |de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd |1 BA e/d/c/B/ :|2 BA A2 ||
de fa | ga fd | g/f/e/d/ cd/c/ | B/A/G Bd |
dc/B/ cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd |BA A2 :|
M: 5/8
efg fd | efg fd |
M: 3/4
f/g/f/e/ dc Bd |
dc/B/ cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd |1 BA A2 :|2 BA e/d/c/B/ ||
# Added by JACKB .
ABC
X: 5
T: The Tolka
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ GB|AB GA|A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ GB|BA A2:|
!|:d>e fa|ga fd|g/e/d/c/ Bd/c/|B/A/G B/A/G|A>B cg|de cA|B/c/B/A/ GB|BA A2:|
ABC

Fifteen comments

The Tolka Polka

Here’s a fiendishly tricky one to keep you busy over the holidays.

The first part is straightforward enough, the second part gets a bit trickier and the third part is downright weird.

Donal Lunny recorded a stunning version of this tune on his live tribute to Sean O’Riada album.

I never liked polkas much until I heard that Dennis Doody’s set on Lunny’s album. This must have been a tricky one to transcribe with all the strange cross rhythms.

Polyrythmic 3rd part of Tolka Polka

I think the 3rd part should be written as :
|:e>f g |d e> fg |f d g>e | dc B(d|

d/2) c/2 B cg|de cA |B/2 c/2 B/2A/2 Gd|BA A2:|
IMHO this is the way the donal lunny band plays this tune at least in the first round.
This way of notation shows very well the polyrythmic point of view. In the 5 bars the 3rd parts starts with there is a 5/8 and a 4/8 in parallel, so the emphasis is shifted from bar to bar. First it’s on the first note, than on the second quarter and so on. This is a possible way to back it with guitars also.

Urs

I can’t see where your time changes are supposed to be Urs. You’ve missed out the 4th note (f) and if that was there your transcription would read as straight 2/4 right through because of where you’ve put the barlines. I see what you mean about the polyrhythmic thing though, and although I think that it is mostly driven by the backing, it is also suggested by the melody alone because of the length of each repeated phrase. If you were to transcribe the time changes, there would be several ways of doing it. One would be to write the 1st 4 bars in 5/8, with each group of quavers divided into 3+2. This would convey the rhythm emphasized by the backing and also avoid the need for ties over the barline. Towards the end of the 4th bar of 5/8, the backers shift back to their 2/4 rhythm by playing a chord on that g instead of the preceding c:

M:5/8
|:e>fg fd | e>fg fd | f/g/f/e/d cB | d>cB cg |
M:2/4
| de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | BA A2 :|

Transcription confusion, always a good sign of a good tune!
I must check this tune out!

The tolka polka

I just saw Molly’s Revenge play (AWESOME live show, by the way!!!) and they said that Mr. Lunny is the composer of this tune. Anyone know for sure?

Posted by .

Yes, it does appear to have been written by Donal Lunny.

Posted by .

Lunny’s Album Version

X: 1
T: The Tolka Polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: Polka
K: AMix
|:AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | AB GE |
AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A Gd |1 BA e/d/c/B/ :|2 BA A2 ||
|: de fa | ga fd | g/f/e/d/ cd/c/ | B/A/G c/B/A/G/ |
AB cg | de cA | B/c/B/A/ Gd | BA A2 :|
M: 5/8
[ e2f2g2 f2d2 | e2f2g2 f2d2 |\
M: 2/4
d4 fgfe | ]d2c2 B2d2 |
d2cB c2g2 | d2e2 c2A2 | BcBA G2d2 |1 B2A2 A4 :|2 B2A2 edcB ||
A2B2 c2g2 | d2e2 c2A2 | BcBA G2d2 | A2B2 G2d2 |
d2cB c2g2 |d2e2 c2A2 | BcBA G2d2 |1 B2A2 edcB :|2 B2A2 A4 ||
d2e2 f2a2 | g2a2 f2d2 | gfed c2dc | BAG2 B2d2 |
d2cB c2g2 | d2e2 c2A2 | BcBA G2d2 |B2A2 A4 :|
M: 5/8
[ e2f2g2 f2d2 | e2f2g2 f2d2 |\
M: 2/4
d4 fgfe | ]d2c2 B2d2 |
d2cB c2g2 | d2e2 c2A2 | BcBA G2d2 |1 B2A2 A4 :|2 B2A2 edcB ||

Posted by .

A lot of errors in there Jack

Kevin Burke’s Recording

Hi All,

I finally learned this tune, after trying a few years ago and just not getting it. Been playing more odd time signature stuff recently, maybe that’s why.

Kevin Burke’s Open House recorded this tune on "HoofAndMouth" (GLCD1169). Here its 3rd in a set with "Paddy the Caffler" (credited to Sean O’Driscoll) and "The Glen Cottage Polka". (credited to a "live recording of a concert performed by Donal Lunny and friends in the National Concert Hall, Dublin".)

Happy polyrhythmy!

Aksak mikstya

A useful interpretation is to play the second part in a 3+3+2 quavers meter and at least the 1st 5 bars of the last part in a 3+2 quaver meter.
Tolka polka: that’s a good name and a brilliant tune!
Perhaps hardly a polka at least in the danceable sense! But it certainly means to make you dance! It’s full of the impetuosity of a river (indeed there is a river called just that on the north side of Dublin which doesn’t swiftly flows down a mountain like her sister the Liffey, but knows how to make the headlines: the original gaelic name Tolca means a flood or surge!

On youtube by Kevin Burke

Great tune, just learning it now, and I find this youtube of it played by Kevin Burke very helpfull in getting my ears and head around the rhythmic fun of the tune.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDzrtAlTF-s


It’s the 2nd tune, the first one is cool as well, I think :)

Gan Ainm

From "Micamac" by Korrigans, track 1. In the booklet the title is simply "Polka" (Ireland).