Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

There is a bit of a debate in our little musical group. We are learning to sing and play the song Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O. When playing the tune, I was playing it in A Dorian, with the Fs being sharped. Others in the group, who had sheet music downloaded from the internet, were playing it in A minor, with the Fs being natural.
While I have heard it both ways, to my mind, the tune sounds better in Dorian, and I think I have heard it more that way than in the classical minor mode. But I am arguing with people who have sheet music in their hands, who are not willing to believe that what has been written might not be the best way to play the tune.
So, I am looking for opinions, which way of playing that particular tune is the most authentic? Which do you like the best?

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

I wish I could help you but I know about 10 different versions of this song. What’s your source? Anyway, when in doubt go modal.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

I don’t know what my source is, Brad. When we picked the key, I just started playing it the way I remembered it, which was dorian. I have listened to some youtubes, and they seem to be more often dorian than classical minor. But the fact that my bandmates found a sheet music source that says otherwise has them doubting me. In my experience, though, one of the most common mistakes in trying to transcribe this music is when people try to force modal tunes into the classical major/minor forms.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

You should download some music notation software, create sheet music for the song in A Dorian, print it out and bring it to rehearsal. Be sure to yell, "Aha!".

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

A search for "raggle" in my iTunes library comes up with two hits for "Raggle-Taggle Gypsy", both in a major key - a version by Waterson:Carthy that appears to be taken from the other recording, a version by Walter Pardon. The third match is "The Draggletail Gypsy", in a hexatonic ambiguous dorian/minor scale omitting the sixth, by John Roberts & Tony Barrand.

I have a bunch of other versions of the Gypsy Davey ballad, but those are the only three that match "raggle".

Mike Waterson recorded a dorian version on For Pence and Spicy Ale. Gordon Tyrrall and Harry Cox have a major version. Woody Guthrie sang a major version. Custer LaRue and Elizabeth LaPrelle have Appalachian versions that are major with a flat seventh at the end of the chorus. Julee Glaub has an Appalachian version that I think is pentatonic. Elizabeth Stewart, Enoch Kent, Jack Beck, Jeannie Robertson, Jean Redpath, and Norman Kennedy sing a Scottish version with a major tune. I also have two more major American versions on a compilation album but I’d have to look up the singers in the album notes.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

The source for the Christy Moore/Planxty version was John Reilly. It’s on the lp, The Bonny Green Tree.

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Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

I would say Dorian mode as well, but you are on a hiding to nothing if everyone else in the group disagrees. Hold a seance and ask the composer.

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Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

I posted a scan of the sheet music I have which would confirm your ears as to the mode…transposed up a whole tone

It comes from the book

"Folksongs and Ballads popular in Ireland…Vol 2", published by Ossian Publications in County Cork

http://downsouthphotos.smugmug.com/Music/Music/3311476_mhsm98#1564661332_rKx8thc-L-LB

Never published an HTML link to the MB before, and no preview button,so I hope it works. If not cut and paste

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

Confiscate your bandmates’ sheet music and teach it to them by ear. Once their brains are re-wired, you can give them back their dots and they can adjust them accordingly.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

I don’t think it makes a lot of difference.

Try it both ways in the same performance - start and finish on dorian and go minor in the middle.

There is nothing particularly "classical" about the aeolian mode. Lots of traditional music uses it. (A lot more traditional music uses minor/dorian hexatonic, though). Most classical composers (e.g. Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler) only used the uninflected aeolian mode if they wanted to sound folky.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

We are talking folk/traditional music here.
If in doubt the ‘classical’ style sheet music will be wrong, by its very nature.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

Thanks guys for the advice. I poke a little fun at the sheet music, but at the same time, I am no authority on this type of music, and just because I learned it one way, I wasn’t entirely sure that my memory hadn’t played with the form of the tune in my head. With the info above, and some research I did on the internet, I am comfortable that I was on the right track with my accidentals.
And I am going to look into that major key version of the tune—that is completely new information for me.

Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

If I was playing on the D whistle, I’d start on a low E and finish on a low E, but mostly slide up from the E to Fnat or F# according to mood. Isn’t that where instruments like whistle, fiddle and flute score heavily over the box, you can be ambiguous and follow the voice? That said, I’ve no idea if my version is ‘correct’ - just what I know from listening to Planxty etc.

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Re: Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O, Minor or Dorian

You are right, AlBrown. The usual way is Dorian mode.

So - for example - if you choose A as your tonal centre (key of A-Dorian) your Fs would be sharp.