The Chicago reel

Also known as The :l, Chicago, The Chicago, The Portlaw.

There are 55 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Chicago has been added to 314 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Chicago
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
cded cAGE|~G3E GAcd|ecgc acgc|eaag edcA|
cded cAGE|~G3E GAcd|eaag (3efg ed|cABG ~A3B:|
|:cdef g2ef|gfgd BG~G2|cdef g2fg|eaag aged|
cdef ~g3e|~a3f ~g3e|~f3d efed|cABG ~A3B:|
ABC
X: 2
T: The Chicago
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
cded cAGE|EGGE GAcd|ec (3ccc acgc|eaag eged|
cded cAGE|EGGE GAcd|eaag eged|cABG A3B:|
|:cdef geaf|gedc BAGB|cdef gedg|eaag aged|
cdef ~g3e|~a3f gbag|effe dfed|cABG A3B:||
ABC
X: 3
T: The Chicago
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
cded cAGE|GEDE GAcd|eAcd edcA|eaag edcA|
cded cAGE|GEDE GAcd|eaae gedB|cABG A3B:|
|:cdef g2ef|gfgd BGG2|cdef g2fg|eaag aged
|cdef g2fe|(3aaa ef (3ggg ge|fedB gedB|cABG A3B:|
ABC
X: 4
T: The Chicago
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bdor
defe dBAF|A3F ABde|fdad bdad|fbba fedB|
defe dBAF|A3F ABde|fbba fafe|dBcA B3c:|
defg a2fg|agae cAA2|defg a2ga|fbba bafe|
defg a3f|b3g a3f|=g3e f=gfe|dBcA B3c:|
ABC

Twenty-one comments

Good Reel

My version is quite a bit different than Henrick’s so this is a bit of a rip off. I used his version. I learned it by ear and as usual I put so much of myself into the tune that I had no I idea where the real tune began and I ended. Henrick Norbeck provides a variation you might be interested in but you will have to go to his site.

Enjoy,
Mark

The Chicago Reel

This is a version I was taught today in a workshop at the Hibernia Centre in Bristol (UK). I believe it has sufficient differences to merit this posting.

M:C|
K:Ador
cded cAGE|EGGE GAcd|ec (3ccc acgc|eaag eged|
cded cAGE|EGGE GAcd|eaag eged|cABG A3B:|
|:cdef geaf|gedc BAGB|cdef gedg|eaag aged|
cdef ~g3e|~a3f gbag|effe dfed|cABG A3B:||

Trevor

The reel at hand …

it sounds good if you play
cd and then cded double fast (sorry don’t know notation off top of head) in the 1st 2 beats

Problematic 3rd bar for the pipes and possible workarounds

Playing a rocking pedal figure from second octave g and a down to a TRUE C natural on the pipes is nigh on impossible even with responsive reeds.

Instead pipers cheat their way through the 3rd part in a number of ways.

I will sometimes do this: ~e2 ge aege l gaag ~e2 is a "shake" or "shiver".

or eg g2 ag g2 l eaag etc. Roll the g2’s.

Some pipers with unusually strong masochistic tendencies and lots of time on their hands will develop the ability to play a "tight" c as a pedal tone, in reality a C# but played so staccato and clipped its effect is purely rhythmic rather than melodic in effect. Playing it this way forces the piper to really pay attention to the lengths of the e’s, g’s, and a’s, as these must be given their full value and then some. If you play at a moderate pace with a good swing, this approach can work.

Tom Ennis, a great piper who lived in both Chicago and New York for a time, used to do something like: eAgA eAgA l eaag etc., often popping the g’s. He might have substituted tight C’s for the A’s there, too.

One nit: That long f# in the penultimate bar is NOT played as a true F#, nor is it an F natural, but somewhere between. I usually lift the chanter and shade that f# tonehole to produce a slightly sharp f natural (or a very flat f#). It’s a rude rude blue note and not pretty but it’s not supposed to be pretty. You want pretty music, go play baroque chamber pieces and leave the gritty stuff alone : P

More pseudo F naturals

In addition to what was mentioned above about the pseudo F naturals, I’ve always played the 4th and 7th measures of the A part as:

eaag efed

with the f being natural or something closer to natural than sharp.

I also play an f natural of sorts on both of the f’s in the penultimate measure of the B part. I agree that it definitely does give the tune a bit of grit, but that’s what makes it fun.

My banjo version

i love this tune. ive only heard the old Edward Mullaney & Patrick Stack version though.
Ive been playing it a lot on the banjo recently.
I tend to play it like a fast hornpipe, i tend to "squawk" some of the notes and throw in triplets, and grace notes but i changed certain bits to suit the banjo, but its based on the original post by Mark.

T: Chicago, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Reel
K: Ador
cded cAGE|GEDE GAcd|eAcd edcA|eaag edcA|
cded cAGE|GEDE GAcd|eaae gedB|cABG A3B:|
|:cdef g2ef|gfgd BGG2|cdef g2fg|eaag aged
|cdef g2fe|(3aaa ef (3ggg ge|fedB gedB|cABG A3B:|

Chicago reel for pipes

anyone know a handier version of this for pipes? the third bar of the first part is doing my head in, i can play it slow but can’t get it up to speed, there’s bound to be an easier variation, hope someone can help, thanks

the chicago reel for pipes

anyone know a handier version of this for pipes? the third bar of the first part is doing my head in, i can play it slow but can’t get it up to speed, there’s bound to be an easier variation, hope someone can help, thanks

Re: the chicago reel for pipes

says Michael who knows about such things

Re: the chicago reel for pipes

heres a quote, from the comments here;

Problematic 3rd bar for the pipes and possible workarounds

Playing a rocking pedal figure from second octave g and a down to a TRUE C natural on the pipes is nigh on impossible even with responsive reeds.

Instead pipers cheat their way through the 3rd part in a number of ways.

I will sometimes do this: ~e2 ge aege l gaag ~e2 is a "shake" or "shiver".

or eg g2 ag g2 l eaag etc. Roll the g2’s.

Some pipers with unusually strong masochistic tendencies and lots of time on their hands will develop the ability to play a "tight" c as a pedal tone, in reality a C# but played so staccato and clipped its effect is purely rhythmic rather than melodic in effect. Playing it this way forces the piper to really pay attention to the lengths of the e’s, g’s, and a’s, as these must be given their full value and then some. If you play at a moderate pace with a good swing, this approach can work.

Tom Ennis, a great piper who lived in both Chicago and New York for a time, used to do something like: eAgA eAgA l eaag etc., often popping the g’s. He might have substituted tight C’s for the A’s there, too.

One nit: That long f# in the penultimate bar is NOT played as a true F#, nor is it an F natural, but somewhere between. I usually lift the chanter and shade that f# tonehole to produce a slightly sharp f natural (or a very flat f#). It’s a rude rude blue note and not pretty but it’s not supposed to be pretty. You want pretty music, go play baroque chamber pieces and leave the gritty stuff alone : P

# Posted on December 8th 2005 by Hanley

Re: the chicago reel for pipes

Why is this tune difficult on pipes? I learned it from a Paddy Carty recording. No bother. Didn’t even have to slow it down with slow down software. I’m sure he plays a version that is feasable on the flute. The other recording I have of it is Peter and Noel Carberry, on a C set of pipes, and nothing tremendously complicated there.

The Chicago Reel

silverspear, i’m sorry i never asked ya at the session last week in sandy bell’s, i could have got your version off ya!

The Chicago Reel

thanks feargal!

The Chicago Reel

thanks feargal!

Does it go back to early Irish emigarnts to Chicago etc in the 1920s

The Chicago Reel

Anyone know of the origin of The Chicago Reel or the composer? Does it come from Irish emmigrants to Chicago in the 1920’s? Lovely tune

Posted by .

Re: The Chicago Reel

Nice one. thanks. have enough info on it now.It seems O’Neill sourced it from The Irish Music Club in Chicago.

Posted by .

Re: The Chicago Reel

Maybe. That’s a guess. Informed, but still a guess.

The Chicago in Bdorian

redness1, solutions sometimes bring more problems…
Still, you could try this version on a C-set of pipes if that option is available to you(!) You’ll see for yourself that the 3rd bar has become dead easy to play as has the last but one (which is in Bminor). Unfortunately, you now have to contend with the Gsharp in the second part -perhaps a lesser evil?
Certainly the most challenging aspect of this ‘solution’ will be to stand your session companion’s stares when they hear you strike it up on the C set. Or worse: When you start to play this tune in B, on your D set!! ;-)

X: 1
T: Chicago, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Bdor
defe dBAF|A3F ABde|fdad bdad|fbba fedB|
defe dBAF|A3F ABde|fbba fafe|dBcA B3c:|
defg a2fg|agae cAA2|defg a2ga|fbba bafe|
defg a3f|b3g a3f|=g3e f=gfe|dBcA B3c:|