This could be called a jig… i guess… everyone plays it differently. My favorite way is to shorten the first note of a group of 3 eighth notes and to lengthen the second… do whatever works best for you.
I hate to be such a pedant, but I was born that way. What can I do?
Either the time signature needs to be changed to 6/8, OR all the note values need to be doubled and each bar divided two.
This is an Turlough O’Carolan tune, I believe, and I think it’s usually transcribed in 3/4. It was one of the first tunes I learned to play on a harp before I abandoned it for the fiddle.
Colonel John Irwin
This is indeed a Carolan tune, "Colonel John Irwin", #59 in Donal O’Sullivan’s book "Carolan: The Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper" (new edition, 2001, Ossian Publications Ltd. ISBN 1-900428-71-7 for the paperback edition.) (Get this book! You’ll love it! It has way more than just tunes.)
The tune is well known as "Planxty Irwin." Bill Matthiesen printed it in "The Waltz Book" in the key of D, in 3/4 time (i.e., measures cut in half and note values doubled compared to how it was posted here). As a waltz, though, I think it kind of drags if it’s played slowly enough to actually dance to it — that’s just my opinion, though.
I was surprised to find that in the O’Sullivan book it is in 6/8, labelled Allegretto. (It’s in C in O’Sullivan, too, though I’ve never heard anyone play it in C.) The notes to the tunes imply that it was intended to be played more up-tempo than it is usually heard nowadays: (from O’Sullivan, p.245) "This lively piece was composed for Colonel John Irwin of Tanrego House, which is situated on Ballysodare Bay, in the townland of Tanrego West, parish of Dromard and barony of Tireragh, Count Sligo." An English translation is given of the first verse:
"We will take our way without delay
To see a Noble, brave and gay,
The gallant Colonel near the sea,
Him I mean to treat of;
With mirth and joy he fills his glasses,
Delights to cheer both lads and lasses,
This is John I will answer,
The brave English Irelander."
"In the second verse, Carolan mentions the Colonel’s exploits in Flanders; and, as bespeaks of him as a young man, the song was composed probably not long after the Peace of Utrecht, 1713, when Colonel Irwin would be home from the wars. He was born in 1680 and died in 1752." There’s more, but I’m tired of typing! :)
Having today submitted "Planxty Hewlett" (another Carolan tune we play in sessions) I thought I’d have a look at the Planxty Irwin entry, my favourite Carolan tune. I shan’t delve deeply into the rights and wrongs of the time signature of this tune except to remark that, to me, it cannot be other than compound duple time (6/8) and certainly not a 3-in-a-bar waltz. We play it either in G, if there are flutes or whistles playing, or in D if fiddles only. The G version is more or less as submitted here, but when I play it in D it is,
A|d2c B>cd|A2G F>ED|G2E F>GA|~C2D E2c|
d2c B>cd|A2G F>ED|G2E F>GA|D2C D2:|
|:A|d>ed d2d|e2e ecA|[D2A2f2]f e2d|dcB ABc|
d2c B>cd|A2G F>ED|G2E F>GA|D2C D2:||
I like to play a dramatic struck chord of D-A-f (on the fiddle) at the start of the 3rd bar of the B part.
Not a jig either
This is the way this site was created. Jeremy didn’t want to encourage people to post too many planxtys and other things that are normally not seen in sessions, so he gave us a finite list of tune types. If you post this, you can have your choice: it’s a waltz or a jig. Waltz is probably closer to planxty than jig.
Wow, when the D major chord appears in these D major tunes, it’s striking indeed. You can say it sets the tone for the tune. Same thing happens with the G chord in the G major tunes.
Glauber, I understand "planxty" to be a tribute, homage, gift, etc made by a composer to an individual who may be a patron or other highly placed person. I don’t think it can be said that a planxty is a single definite metrical type (as a jig or waltz), which is why I’m sure Jeremy didn’t include it in his list of tune types. I believe his database is designed to work only with tune types defined by a particular meter, as the jig by 6/8, reel by 4/4 etc. Incidentally, marches have a variety of time signatures.
I had a look at the Carolan planxties in O’Neill, and they include the time signatures 2/4, 3/4, C, and 6/8 (the most frequent). So, for the purposes of thesession.org I would define a planxty according to the tune type (polka, waltz, reel, jig) which most closely fits the time signature. In the case of Planxty Irwin there is clearly room for debate (see previous comments), but I’m inclined to live in the 6/8 camp on this one!
I agree that planxties aren’t particularly common currency in many sessions, but they are played occasionally and are part of the ITM repertoire. And the number of them played in sessions is sufficiently small that I don’t think a database of this size is any danger of being overwhelmed by them.
Struck 3-note chords aren’t commonly played in tunes, so in this instance I think it is fair to say that there is a dramatic effect when it does occur without warning, i.e. after a bar with a different chordal structure.
Carolan tunes are not common in sessions anywhere I’ve ever been. They’re generally not considered session tunes — they’re more like party pieces or showouts. Around here they’re largely met with indifference — they’ll play along with ‘em to be agreeable sometimes. I like Carolan and play a few of them, but I wouldn’t spring ‘em on a session until I knew that session and its players very well.
O Riada’s comment
O Riada remarks that because Irwin was not a member of the Gaelic aristocracy, but a Cromwellian, Carolan gave this tune more a European flavor, but, Riada adds waggishly, "it’s still a very pretty tune."
i think that this tune is a jig, as when danced it is done in treble jig timing(a slow jig)
Definitely not a jig.
Slainte’s right. As for a lot of Carolan’s music, I think you have to be a bit looser in thinking about the time signature than is usual with straight dance music, regardless of whether you can dance to them or not. I’d take the time signature as a guide to emphasis rather than tempo, and be guided more by the baroque music that so heavily influenced Carolan than by the way jigs or walzes may be played in sessions today. Take a look at how Bach took familiar dance forms from his day and transformed them into extraordinary concert pieces in his works for solo cello and violin. I think this is one of the major reasons Carolan tunes don’t feature highly at sessions.
I learned this tune form a session last week played by a piper as a slow waltz going into the south wind.. seven of us joined in on various instruments and a room full of people danced and all enjoyed it. Sessions are very varied things all over the world and there are no clear edges to them or to tunes of any kind.
It helpful on these boards to hear how other people use tunes.
It’s much less helpful to be told how one can’t use a tune tough I do agree that this version is ‘written’ in 6/8 with a duple pulse and only the time signature saying 3/4.
My Jigified Version
T: Planxty Irwin
|:d| gaf efg|dec BAG|cBA Bcd|EFG A2 d|
gaf efg|dec BAG|cBA Bcd|G2 F G2:|
|:d|gag gfg|aba afd|bc’b age|fge def|
gaf efg|dec BAG|cBA Bcd|G2 F G2:|
How NOT to play Planxty Irwin
Can’t help saying how much horror I feel in hearing this tune played like it is on this accordian clip. Nothing against accordians as I play one myself but this really lacks any sensitivity that the tune warrents by the use of the left hand. In my oppinion it is NOT a ‘waltz’ and one should avoid using the basses in a way that suggests a waltz. I prefer it in 6/8 but again avoid creating the feel that it is a ‘Jig’.
Sparse use of the left hand is required, tune takes precedence.
Many of the sessionsI go to seem to revolce around Jigs and Reels with occassional Hornpipes and slip jigs thrown in. Sometimes Polkas, rarely Slides. Recently a comment was made by a fellow musician, visiting the sesson for the first time, as to how pleasant it was to hear the tempo of the evening changed by the inclusion of the occasional O’Carolan tune or air.
Re: How NOT to play Planxty Irwin
I guess this is rather meant as a joke (as also the title of the clip suggests). I had to chuckle at least. So why not?