The Primrose Lasses reel

Also known as 4 Nights Drunk, Byrne’s, Four Nights Drunk, Primrose Lass, The Primrose Lass, Primrose Lasses, The Primrose Lassies Highland Fling, The Primrose Lassies, Windwood.

There are 92 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Green Grow The Rushes (a few times), A Stor Mo Chroi (a few times), The Abbey (a few times), Callaghan’s (a few times).

The Primrose Lasses has been added to 355 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
B3A G3E|DEGA BAA2|dBAB GAGE|DFGA BGG2|
B3A G3E|DEGA BAA2|dcBA GFED|DFGA BGG2:|
Bdgd edgd|Bdgd eAA2|Bdgd edgd|BdAc BGG2|
Bdgd edgd|Bdgd eAA2|Bdef gage|dBAc BGG2:|
ABC
X: 2
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
g | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BAAg | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BGG2 |
BdAB G2 GE | DEGA BAAg | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BGG ||
z | d2 gd edgd | Bdgd BAA2 | d2 gd efge |dBAc BGG2 |
d2 gd edgd | Bdgd BAA2 | dBde g2 ge | dBAc BGG||
ABC
X: 3
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
f2f>e d2d>B|A>Bd>e f<BB>e|f2f>e d2d>B|1 A>da>g f<dd>e:|2 A>da>g f<dd>B||
A>df>d a>df>d|A>df>d e<BB2|A>df>d a>df>d|f/g/a e>g f<dd>B|
A>df>d a>df>d|A>df>d e<BB>e|f2f>e d2d>B|A>da>g f<dd>e|]
ABC
X: 4
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: B2 BA G2 GE | DEGA BA A2 | BcBA GAGE | DEGA BG G2 :|
Bdgd edgd | BdgB cAAc | B/c/d gd ed g2 | Bc A/B/c BGGc |
B/c/d g2 ed g2 | edgB cA A/A/A | B2 c/B/A G2 GE | DEGA BG G2 |]
ABC
X: 5
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
~b3a ~g3e|dB~B2 dega|~b3a ~g3e|dBGA BA~A2:|
|:Bd~d2 edgd|edgd edgd|Bd~d2 edge|1 dBGB A2GA:|2 dBGB A2G2||
ABC
X: 6
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
b3a ggge|dBBB dega|1 b2ba ggge|degb adga:|2 b2 ag gede|gedB A2GA:|
Bddg edgd|edgd edg2|1 B/c/ddg edge|dBGB AAGA:|2 B/B/Bd edge|dbgd adga||
ABC
X: 7
T: The Primrose Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:D3G FAAF|G2 BG FABc|dABG FADf|gefd edAG|
FAGE DFAF|G2 BG FABc|dgfa ecdB|AFGE FDDA|
D3G FAAF|G2 BG FABc|dABG FADf|gefd edAG|
FAGE DFAF|G2 BG FABc|dg (3.f.a.f efdB|AFGE FDDg||
|:faaf afdf|gefd edBc|dABG FADf|.ge.fd edBg|
faaf afdf|gefd edBc|dfea ecdB|AFGE FDDg|
faaf afdf|(3gfe fd edBf|geBg fadf|gefd edBg|
(3.f.g.f af bfaf|gefd edBc|dgfa ecdB|AFGE FDDA||
|:D3G FADF|GBDE FADA|dABG FADf|gefd edAG|
FAGE DFAF|G2 BG FABc|dgfa ecdB|AFGE FDDg:||
|:fa a2 afdf|gefd edBf|gebg fadf|gefd edBg|
(3.f.g.f af bfaf|gbfg edBc|dgfa ecdB|AFGE FDDA||
# Added by JACKB .
ABC

Thirty-one comments

A traditional reel… Apparently there’s notation on the highland pipes for this, called "The Drunken Piper", also the name of the set that this is usually played in, but I can’t find it….

The Drunken Piper I know - well, I’ve met many - but the one that usually goes by that name is a very different tune - a Bagpipe reel in Amixolydian, played as a march in Donegal.

My own 2 cents: I know this as the Primrose Lass and more commonly played at sessions in A major.

Posted .

It’s in O’Neill’s as the Primrose Lass pretty much as the setting here. Good tune.

Geoff Pollitt

Dervish list this as "Byrne’s" on "Harmony Hill", and the parts are switched round.

Number three in Garry Shannon’s set Windwood

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A Cape Breton Setting

K: G
g | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BAAg | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BGG2 |
BdAB G2 GE | DEGA BAAg | edBA G2 GE | DEGA BGG ||
z | d2 gd edgd | Bdgd BAA2 | d2 gd efge |dBAc BGG2 |
d2 gd edgd | Bdgd BAA2 | dBde g2 ge | dBAc BGG||

This is almost identical to what Wendy MacIsaac played on the compilation album "The Hear of Cape Breton." Nice one on the flute and whistle.

The Primrose Lassies (Highland Setting)

R: highland
K: D
f2f>e d2d>B|A>Bd>e f<BB>e|f2f>e d2d>B|1 A>da>g f<dd>e:|2 A>da>g f<dd>B||
A>df>d a>df>d|A>df>d e<BB2|A>df>d a>df>d|f/g/a e>g f<dd>B|
A>df>d a>df>d|A>df>d e<BB>e|f2f>e d2d>B|A>da>g f<dd>e|]

As played by Harry Bradley. You could play this as a reel, transposing it in G.

“The Primrose Lasses” ~ ask and you shall recieve ~ in G

K: G Major
|: G>A |
B2- B>A G2 G>E | D>EG>A B>AA>c | B>cB>A G>AG>E | D>EG>A B>G :|
| G>c |
(3Bcd g>d e>dg>d | B>dg>B c>AA>c | (3Bcd g>d e>d g2 | B>c (3ABc B>GG>c |
(3Bcd g>d e>dg>d | e>dg>B c>A (3AAA | B2 (3cBA G2- G>E | D>EG>A B<G ||

Hallelujah! An improvement, the ‘less than’ sign now works here in yeller land. Thanks for telling me ‘slainte’, I had to give it a try, besides, I like highlands a bit lower down and the key of G suits this one nicely. You could throw in a few more ‘snaps’ if you were so inclined, and if you wanted it as a reel, well, just play it ‘flat out’…
;-)

It also goes nicely in the key of ‘A’…

‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ - haha - geddit? :-)

“The Three Stooges”

Larry, Moe & Curly Joe… Now that was threesome that had an interesting upbringing. Anyone remember a theme tune?

Hmmm, actually, three is a wildly conservative estimate. Stop slapping my head guys I’m not a drum. Anyway, as I was saying, OK, that hurts, alright already, I’m getting to it. I was wrong, so what’s new eh? I was way off the mark, there are more than 3 of us…

Go here for a tune that might be a variant of this http://www.thesession.org/tunes/6577.

X: 1
T: The Primrose Lass
R: reel
D: Dervish - Harmony Hill
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
~b3a ~g3e|dB~B2 dega|~b3a ~g3e|dBGA BA~A2:|
|:Bd~d2 edgd|edgd edgd|Bd~d2 edge|1 dBGB A2GA:|2 dBGB A2G2||

Stop me if im crazy

isnt this the tune that steeleye span sings "5 drunken nights" to?

and also i think its on the planxty live album but listed as the pullet.

this is very interesting. it is known that "4 nights drunk" is an English folksong (the English variant of "7 drunken nights") and that a melody so simmilar (if not identical), is that of an Irish tune.

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Thanks

for the link to Leo’s piping, Ramiro. Great Shtuff.

Dow, the version you posted has also been recorded by Matt Molloy, who typically gives it the ‘second octave’ treatment:
X: 1
T: The Primrose Lass
R: reel
S: Matt Molloy
M: 2/2
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
b3a ggge|dBBB dega|1 b2ba ggge|degb adga:|2 b2 ag gede|gedB A2GA:|
Bddg edgd|edgd edg2|1 B/c/ddg edge|dBGB AAGA:|2 B/B/Bd edge|dbgd adga||

does anyone actually play any F#s in bar 7, either ‘dcBA GFED’ (transcription here) or ‘dcBA GFEF’ (in O’Neill’s)? I’ve never been convinced by that Ionian/major, more like ‘dcBA G~E3’ or ‘dcBA ~G3E’ (for the setting here). Maybe that’s just me?

Joe Heaney used to sing “Seven Drunken Nights” to this tune

Irish national treasure, sean nos singer and storyteller Joe Heaney, who passed on while a faculty member in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington (1984), used to sing a version of "Seven Drunken Nights" to this tune:
"As I came home, drunk as drunk could be-o, there I saw a horse where a horse shouldn’t be/ I says to me wife, tell it unto me-o, whose-a horse where a horse shouldn’t be? / Oh you fool you silly fool, can’t ye plainly see, now, it’s nothing but a milch cow me mother sent to me?/ Miles I have traveled, six hundred miles or more/ saddle on a milch cow I’ve never seen before…"

He also has a wonderful version of Cunnla that’s probably still up on YouTube or somewhere. Playful man, took it seriously enough but didn’t let that stop him from having fun.

"Irish national treasure, sean nos singer and storyteller Joe Heaney, who passed on while a faculty member in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington (1984), used to sing a version of "Seven Drunken Nights" to this tune"

Martin Carthy also sings the song to this tune.

Primrose Lasses

On the Star of Donegal record Johnny Doherty plays the air and reel of An Tseanbhean Bhocht = Primrose Lasses. Frank Quinn sang the song with the same medley on one of his 78s.

A friend played some reel by this title, couldn’t hear the resemblance myself, don’t think it was one of these settings from Dervish et al. They have their own setting in Cape Breton - and aren’t sure if it’s a native or wandered in at some point.

The Primrose Lass

There is a setting of this tune in one of Joyce’s manuscripts under the name "The Kilworth Lasses". He notes that is is from the O’Sullivan Bruff (?) manuscripts, and that "Kilworth is in the County Cork".

"He notes that is is from the O’Sullivan Bruff (?) manuscripts,"

Joyce obtained tunes from "a very old well‑written manuscript lent to me in 1873 by Mr. J. O’Sullivan, of Bruff, Co. Limerick".

The Primrose Lass

Thanks, Weejie!

Seamus Ennis

I got this version of the tune from Dicky Deegan a brilliant Australian piper. Some say Dicky is more Ennis than Ennis was.

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