The Fairy Queen waltz

Also known as Bean Righ Na Sibhrach, The Faery Queen.

There are 27 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Fairy Queen has been added to 143 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Fairy Queen
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
P:A
d2 d2 BA | d4 BA | d2 d2 BA | d2 {f}e2 f2 | d2 d2 AB | F4 dc |
B4 dc | d3 g f/2g/2f/2e/2 | d3 f e/2f/2e/2d/2 | c3 f e/2f/2e/2d/2 |
B3 c BA | F3 g fe | {A}B3 d cB | A2 B2 dc | d6 | D4 ||
P:B
de | ~f3 e/2f/2 f2 | fefgfg | {f}e4 e2 | e2 f2 a2 | d4 a2 |
c4 ac | B3 c B/2c/2B/2A/2 | F3 A Bc | d3 G F/2G/2F/2E/2 | E3 d cd |
e3 d c/2d/2c/2B/2 | A3 g fd | B3 d c/2d/2c/2B/2 | A2 B2 dc | d6 | D4 ||
P:C (octave up)
Bc | d2 d2 A2 | d3 c B/2c/2B/2A/2 | F3 G FE | D4 Bc | dcdedc |
BABcdB | e3 d c/2d/2c/2B/2 | A4 de | f2 f2 B2 | fefgfA |
{cd}e3 d c/2d/2c/2B/2 | A4 f2 | BcBcde | A2 B2 dc | {c}d6 | D4 |]
ABC

Ten comments

Fairy Queen

This is a tune by Turlough Carolan, the legendary blind harpist, but some scholars say it’s actually an older melody he adapted for the harp. He meant it as an instrumental piece. I transcribed this off a low quality GIF i found somewhere and transposed it from G to D so it would fit on the flute.

The last section should be played an octave up, if you can.

Chris Norman (Man With The Wooden Flute) plays it in C. He has a fully keyed flute that goes down all the way to low B; more power to him. :-)

By the way, the groups of 5 16th notes are meant to be played as melody, not ornamentation. Don’t rush them.

“missing” section

There’s another part to this tune (it goes third, with the last section given here still last) that has been the subject of controversy among Carolan scholars — there’s a sharp that many authorities feel could not be authentic to Carolan as he was a harper — however, it should be noted that he had a son who was a fiddler (and perhaps other family members, i don’t know), so I don’t know that that’s all that significant. When I play this for weddings, people who ask about the tune say it’s their favorite part.

This is one of the most popular pieces I play, though — even if we’re playing in a pub where we think no one is listening, it always gets applause.

Zina

The Fairy Queen

I have an 1859 edition of Thomas Moore "Irish Melodies" that includes some Carolan tunes, including The Fairy Queen. The time signature is 6/4, and the notation is significantly different enough from what you posted that I have scanned the page (the book is very fragile!) and posted it on my site at this URL:
http://personal.myavista.com/acflynn/fairyqueen.jpg

Alice

Whoa.

No kidding, it’s different, Alice!

The version I have is somewhat more complex than Glauber’s transcription (mine from a book taken from the transcriptions of Bunting, and so not necessarily to be trusted), but not quite as, um, decorative as the 1859 version. I’ve heard some complaints about the Victorian versions of Carolan’s works, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen a transcription. Very interesting indeed!

Zina

My main source for hearing this tune is the "Man With The Wooden Flute" CD, by Chris Norman, and if memory serves me right, it goes pretty much as i posted, except that he plays in C, so he’s able to do the third part on the high octave.

But, since this was harp music, whatever the original was, i’m pretty sure it wasn’t something that would play well on the flute. I don’t know much about Irish harp; i just found out about a harp album that was put out by the Chieftains years ago so i ordered it, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I checked Alice’s version, and it’s pretty interesting too. Maybe that’s closer to a harp feel.

To be 100% honest, i don’t think this sounds so good unaccompanied on the flute. Part of the appeal of the Chris Norman CD is that he has such a great guitar player backing him up.

Don’t like it!

I’m afraid I’m not a great fan of this type of tune. To my ears, it seems to be long and rambling, and there’s nothing really to latch on to. Just my opinion :-)

Jonathan

Really? Are you playing it or listening to a recording of it, Jonathon? It’s a beautiful waltz, and I’ve heard some really evocative versions of it. You might want to try to find a recording of it to see if you like it better once you’ve heard it played by a favorite player in their own setting.

Zina

Clannad version of the fairy queen

There is a haunting version of the fairy queen on Clannad’s Magical Ring 1983 album. It is played unaccompanied by a harp and flute. The version they play is four parts with an additional (to Glauber’s version) fourth part last.

The version I have is a photocopy of a photocopy of an original publication from 1724. It is from John and William Neal: A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes proper for the Violin, German Flute or Hautboy. Dublin (1724). I think it is kept in Queen’s University Belfast. Their version is five parts with the first three parts as glauber listed, but in G, and then two additional parts with the fourth Clannad part played fift and last. This final part is my favourite, it has a descending melodic line as its main feature. A descending melodic line is also one of the best features of the farewell to music which is considered by some to be O’Carolan’s "signing out". The fourth part in this version contains a D# as the third note in the fifth full bar, so this might be Zina’s third part.

It is a great tune which is not really a Waltz in rhythm and I think it is fantastic played unaccompanied. I will transcribe this version when I have slightly more time.

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Liam O’Flynn’s version; with an accompaniement of ‘stout’ (rather than ‘heavy’) (and not heavy handed anyway) harpsichord chords is particularly suited to this piece and tout à fait délectable.