Polka By Another Name

Polka By Another Name

Hi,
This polka and the part of the set it was played for are stuck in my brain 50 years later. The occasion was a house party for a couple that had been married shortly before. The best party I can remember in our house, and the kitchen was tight for the set, musicians, spectators. My father was one of the musicians. I don’t remember asking him the name, but I’ve always called it Elly’s song. Elly was the bride and she danced the set. To complete the visual picture, this polka is played for the advance-retire-advance-retire, and it was done with such gusto, I thought the opposing couples would charge each other off the floor.

I came across it in a little book called Whistle and Sing, and it is called McElroy’s Fancy there. I looked it up in the Tunes section to see if I would know it by another name, but it is not listed, at least by that name.
It goes like this:
Key D
|B2 B>A|FA DA|B2 B>A|Bc/d/ ed|
|B2 B>A|FA D>E|FD AF|E2 E2:||

Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

Mairtin O’Connor does a set of 4 un-named polkas on his recording "The Connachtman’s Rambles". This is the 3rd one. "Ceolachan" had some discussion about it somewhere recently.

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Re: Polka By Another Name

Thanks, Kenny. I checked those threads. Same tune. I was curious to see if a Western name would emerge, but found none. Also curious as to how these polkas were played in Mayo (if not composed locally) at a time that was pre-tv, pre-radio, pre-vinyl, etc., and people didn’t travel much. Any theories?
Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

Also noted that doing a search by an aka name doesn’t bring up the tune, in this case McElroy’s.
Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

People have always traveled, even in the earliest days. Consider the aboriginal Americans, who crossed over from Siberia in prehistoric times.

And even if most people traveled only short distances in the past, good tunes (like good gossip) would be passed from town to town, eventually spreading out far from their points of origin. That’s my theory, anyway.

Re: Polka By Another Name

There is a problem with that submitter’s name for this tune, it being taken as HTML on the Yeller board and messing up the ‘Details’ page. In this case it is not allowing the entry of alternate names. I have emailed Jeremy about it as it also happens with other contributions that member has made. It should be simple to adjust the name in a way that the problems cease, but this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve written about this submitter’s name, but hopefully eventually it will be dealt with…

If you want a good idea of how polkas were played of old see if you can find recordings of the Clare concertina players Bernard O’Sullivan & Tommy McMahon of Cooraclare. You need to set aside any accumulate bias that polkas all originate from Sliabh Luachra and the only way they were ever played is as they are played nowadays, HA! They were played all over Eire and were generally more relaxed ~ Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Tipperary, Armagh ~ etc…

Re: The other name is Půlka!

Seems we have to thank ‘Anna Slezak’ for the POLKA! Interesting to note too that they only date back to 1835, so they are therefore only about as old as Accordions & Concertinas, in their original form.

I wonder when they were first played in Ireland?

"You need to set aside any accumulate bias that polkas all originate from Sliabh Luachra" - quite correct Ceolachan

"Polka is defined as a vivacious couple dance of Bohemian origin in duple time was a basic pattern of hop-step-close-step; a lively Bohemian dance tune in 2/4 time."

"The polka was originally a Czech peasant dance, developed in Eastern Bohemia (now part of Czechoslovakia).
Bohemian historians believe that the polka was invented by a peasant girl (Anna Slezak, in Labska Tynice in 1834) one Sunday for her amusement.
It was composed to a folk song "Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla (Uncle Nimra brought a white horse)." Anna called the step "Madera" because of its quickness and liveliness."

"The dance was first introduced into the ballrooms of Prague in 1835.
The name of the dance (pulka) is Czech for "half-step", referring to the rapid shift from one foot to the other."
http://www.centralhome.com/ballroomcountry/polka.htm

Wikipedia backs much of this info up & adds that:
“The name comes from Czech word půlka”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polka

Of course, if you want to listen live to Polkas 24 hours-a-day:
http://stations.loudcity.com/703/listen2.htm

P.S. I lasted about 2 mins - see how long you can stand ye olde ‘Oompa Oompa’!

Re: Polka By Another Name

Yes, we’ve been here previously, some comment section of one of the tunes if I’m remembering rightly. The actual source, as some have it, so ‘actual’ could be debated, since the records are always suspect where fantasy and the will of the commenter take influence ~ anyway ~ is that the dance was a folk dance from the Carpathian mountains. The Poles in the days of the great Empire, were dance mad, partly because it gave them the opportunity to show off all that O.T.T. gaudy garb, mostly military, and the looked for inspiration everywhere. A number of dance forms were pulled out of the countryside and dusted off and made ‘proper’ for the big balls. From there the fire spread all over Europe.

So, if we are to have a womb of dance and music that has influenced all of Europe and the Western world, well, the Carpathians are a good bet, like the Steppes are to some the birthplace of civilization…. Hmmm, I know the mythology can be a kick to knock around ~ but let us be open and skeptical, not cynical, just skeptical… Maybe it’s something in the water of those mountains? ~ after certain ‘treatment’…

Re: Polka By Another Name

A lot of you on this site are too damn smart for your own good, so here’s a bit of a challenge for your brilliant minds. This is a polka. Can you identify? If so, add the next few notes:
|Ad ff|ga/g/ f2|

And, No, I don’t know the name of it.

First Prize: A week in Poland’s Sliabh Luachra area.
Second Prize: Two week there.
Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

What the heck, I’ll throw in another s for free.
Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

Is it "I’ll tell me Ma"?

Re: Polka By Another Name

If it is I’ll Tell Me Ma, it ain’t in a key that is singable!!!!!!!!
😉

Re: Polka By Another Name

Ceolachan, Re: " it gave them the opportunity to show off all that O.T.T. gaudy garb, mostly military, and the looked for inspiration everywhere. A number of dance forms were pulled out of the countryside and dusted off and made ‘proper’ for the big balls."

Interesting to note that if you take a couple of words there like - ‘dance forms’ & ‘big balls’ & replace them with the words Marches & Big Marches, you could almost be talking about our wee corner of Ireland, especially at this time of the year! 🙂

Re: Polka By Another Name

The polka was an international dance craze by the 1840s and was danced in dance halls and ballrooms throughout Europe and beyond. As a musical form, they’re still popular in Mexico, where they arrived courtesy of the mid-19th century German, Scottish, and Irish immigrants. (On my mother’s side, I have Mexican cousins with Scottish last names and Spanish first names. Current Mexican president Vicente Fox is of Irish, or more accurately, Irish-American descent.)

This page http://chrisbrady.itgo.com/dance/dundalk/preface.htm
includes some enlightening notes on ballroom dancing, dancing masters and dance manuals in Ireland (among other places) in the 18th and 19th centuries. The handwritten 1867 "Dancing Book" here is presented in facsimile and transcribed, and includes one "Polka Country Dance", the description of which presupposes the knowledge of how to dance a polka.

Re: Polka By Another Name

Sorry, Richard, no joy there, I’m afraid. Although the first part does sound a bit like ITMM. Al, it’s singable if your shorts were tight enough.
A word about this polka. It’s an old polka that would have been played for set dancing (in Mayo anyway) in past times. My father probably knew it from the early 1900s. He recorded it at home on a reel-to reel tape, with two other similar-type polkas in 1979, age 85. They sound a bit regal-militaristic to me. Here’s a bit of help????

Bars 3 and 4
|fe ed/e/| fe ed/B/:||

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on my transcriptions. I rely on Will, usually.

Mairtin

"I’ll Tell Me Ma" ~ as mentioned earlier

Key signature: D Major
Submitted on January 25th 2004 by Michael Bell.
https://thesession.org/tunes/2434

& here’s an alternate take that has some of your notes in it, it is also sometimes played without repeats and there are various lyrics possible too, hence this particular name for it. It was popular all over Eire and beyond:

|: c/B/ |
Ad f2 | ge f2 | fe ed/e/ | fe ed/B/ |
Ad fd/f/ | ga/g/ f2 | fe ac | d2- d :|
|: f/g/ |
aa/a/ af | gg/g/ ge | ff/f/ fd | e/f/e/c/ BA |
a>a af | g>g ge | fd e>f | ed d :|

Yes Tracie, good link. Chris has done us all a good dead in accumulating these sources and then making them accessible…a wise man…

Re: Polka By Another Name

I’ve been singing ITMM off and on since the late 1950s, so I know it as well as anyone. The playing I have is partial, the front is cut off. (The CD I have is a copy that made from the reel -to-reel that has been in the possession of University College Cork since Sept 1979. I only received this copy in 2005. UCC was converting to CD format many old and worn tapes. In this case, some of the music on the original tape is missing. For example, the only jig he ever composed is half missing, and there is no other copy of it written or recorded.)
Mairtin

Re: Polka By Another Name

If you send me an MP3 of the tune there’s a fair chance I may be able to come up with it. There are several tunes that could fit along the lines of the few bars you’ve given, but the one that immediately came to mind was "I’ll Tell Me Ma" ~ which is played in several keys and ways, both as 16 bars (AB) and as 32 bars (repeated AABB)…

With a bit more of it I might have a change at catching the tune… I’ll send you an email address you can use…

Re: Polka By Another Name

The problens with this link are now corrected. Thanks Jeremy. The name has been changed to make things more manageable…

"The Glenside Polka" alias "McElroy’s "Fancy"
Key signature: E Dorian
Submitted on February 5th 2002 by Joerg Froese.
https://thesession.org/tunes/534