The worst tune in the world

The worst tune in the world

So I realized tonight that I’m happy to play any tune in the repertoire, with one exception. You might not agree, and I can respect that, but I think I’ve hit my limit on this one, so I’m just going to hate on this tune for a moment.

All of the tunes I know and all of the tunes I’ve heard can be good tunes, and they take only a little ordinary humanity to make them good tunes. You put in a little of yourself, and out comes some lovely music. All but one, that is.

The exception is the Butterfly. There is nothing, I think, that can make me like this tune. It’s not that the notes are bad, it’s just that there’s nothing good about it. There’s no room in it for the player. It’s either a melodramatic swoopy flourishy flowery bore, or it’s a mechanical monstrosity, but it never has a lilt or a swing that makes you want to play it one time more, and another, and another. Someone starts it, and it’s like a little trip into hell: here we go, bup de dup de da, bup de dup de duddly, bup de dup de da, ba de dup de duddly, tickety tockety tick, until they decide to release us from the rack. Play it on the whistle, or the fiddle, or the Uzbeki Kalashnaphone, it’s always the same: pure unadulterated please-make-it-stop tedium.

And lately it seems I hear it every time I go out to play music.

I’m not fussy. I’ll listen to a rank beginner play the Kesh, halting and fumbling, and I’ll play, and I’ll try to help them make it sound good, and I’ll enjoy it. I’ll listen to some showoff blister through a bunch of reels, all oblivious to the fact that nobody in the world knows them or wants to, and I’ll be fine. I’ll have a great time, of course, if someone happens to play three jigs that go nicely together and turn out to be just exactly what I wanted to play next, although I’d never have known it if they hadn’t been there to play them, and if you play a tune that I don’t know, I’ll try to get the hang of it so I can play it with you next time or the time after that. I’m not fussy, really, but I don’t think I can take the Butterfly any more.

It’s boring. There’s no way for it to not be boring. The way the phrases land on the bar lines, one, two, three, one two three, and they stop there and you have to shove the damned tune every time it gets stuck at the end of a bar. The way it straitjackets the best players into playing just exactly that, never allowing for a deviation or a hesitation (too much repetition, though). The way it just crashes on and on, with the gratuitous third part, just to remind you that the only thing worse than a terrible tune is a terrible tune and a half… It’s an awful tune. Possibly the worst tune in the world.

Is there any way to kill it? Is there any way to put me out of its misery? Or am I doomed to suffer through the duffers banging away at it forever?

Other than that, though, things are fine, great tunes tonight. Aside from one of them, that is.

How are y’all?

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What nonsense. Are you drunk? I’m not going to make a big deal out of this but the Butterfly can sound nice on the flute, for example.
Jeez.
Bye bye.

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Drunk? No. I can’t write like that when I’m drunk. Just thinking aloud about why this tune always sends me to the bar.

Like I say, your mileage may vary.

Toodles.

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I totally agree with you, Jon!
The Butterfly IS indeed a boring tune, almost soporific..

However, I think you are a bit too harsh, it can’t possibly be the worst tune out there, can it? :-D

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I’ve heard a lot of music in my short days, but the one song that i really hate….(Yay! I can’t think of it!) I’ll post it if it ever comes to mind lol

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There are some tunes that are far, far worse - particularly some of the morris tunes at English sessions! I actually found myself at a session last week when a couple of tunes came up that I couldn’t even be bothered to pick my fiddle up to join in.
I’ve yet to find Irish tunes that I feel that strongly about.

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I love the Butterfly. The worst tune in the world? The Dingle Regatta!!! Please, make it illegal, somebody!!!!

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i like that tune

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‘Fergal O’Gara’ may not be the worst tune in the world, but it came to mind on reading this thread. How did a tune that sounds like listless noodling get so popular? The much maligned ‘Concertina Reel’ has a lot more interesting stuff going on in it. Fergal O’Gara is also damned hard to play - on the mandolin anyhow! And finally, it’s even awkward to write about, as there’s no agreement on how to spell it.

There is no “worst tune in the world”

I like The Butterfly. There is room to swing in any tune and any tune can be tedious. I play The Butterfly in a medley with A Fig for a Kiss, which is a delicious tune. Good musicians play tunes they don’t like until they learn to like the tune, despite the lack of obvious appeal. If you don’t like the tune then you can not play it and wander off to the jacks. But why vent about it? A tune that is accessible to beginners isn’t necessarily a bad tune.
You can find bits to like in any tune and you go from there. I have never warmed up to Tam Linn or The Trip to Pakistan. But I know that if I found myself in a session with good players I would wish that I knew the tunes better.
Christy Barry is a well known crank around these parts, brilliant player that he is. A couple of years ago he put down a contemporary’s composer’s work, announcing to the session that the tunes didn’t go anywhere, were boring, etc. This shed no light on the tunes but did alert us to Christy’s crankiness. It’s always easier to be a negative critic, finding and announcing things to dislike, than it is to be an appreciate critic, finding things to like.
I assume you’re a good player, Jon. I know you love the music. But the fault isn’t with the tune. The fault is with you.

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I find Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife very tedious. Just the first time through it seems like it’s been galumphing on for ever.

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Hey, there is no competition here, the worst tune ever composed is, without question, the dreaded:

Music For A Found Harmonium!

The Butterfly, by comparison, is utterly sublime!

…. end of discussion!

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I saw Penguin Cafe Orchestra performing live last summer. MFAFH is quite tuneful compared to some of their other works. According to their wiki entry:

"The Penguin’s sound is not easily categorized, but has elements of exuberant folk music and a minimalist aesthetic occasionally reminiscent of composers such as Philip Glass."

For me the aesthetic probably couldn’t have managed to get much more minimal.

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It’s note the tunes that are bad… we ruin them. If the butterfly had never been heard before and showed up for the first time today, I bet it would be considered a perfectly lovely tune. Then it might get destroyed.

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It was first released on Chrysalis Records wasn’t it?

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Not wishing to be pedantic folks, perish the thought ;-), but The Butterfly is actually a Hop Jig, not a Slip Jig.

See:
The Fox Chase IV: The Foxhunter’s (Hop Jig) at:
http://errantelbows.podbean.com/

Where Harry says: " .. the phrasing and rhythm of a hop jig (such as The Rocky Road to Dublin, Top it Off, The Butterfly etc etc) . "

Cheers,
Dick

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I’ve always loathed John Ryan’s polka.

I started looking for a YouTube version to post here but I had to stop because I hurt myself laughing. I recommend you look at some of the attempts there if you want to make yourself feel better about your own playing.

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Would it be disliked so much if it was normally played at the Bothy Band’s tempo ? And I wonder, do the slow ‘flouncy’ versions stem from that Bothy Band recording ? The Tommy Potts version moves much more a real Butterfly.

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… much more like …

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a reasonable player can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear if he or she is properly driven to it.

My ceilidh band caller’s insistence on the continued use of a couple of dreary little tunes that I once loathed, for one particular dance, put me between a rock and a hard place

after six years of trying every possible twist and trick to get them to work for me, I’ve succeeded and they now rock, despite their author’s apparent intention

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Yes, an important distinction I think … it’s a hop jig. And for anyone who doesn’t know what a hop jig is, it’s sort of like a slip slide (but then most people can’t tell the difference between a jig and a slide anyway).

The Bothy Band were great pioneers of messing with tunes and their slowed down Butterfly with all those layered harmonies was great. But don’t blame them for the rest of the hapless eedjits of the world who think that’s actually how the tune goes.

Jon, learn it from scratch (no double meaning intended) from that tommy pots version. Listen especially to how he plays through the beginning and ends of phrases, especially throwing the down beat off with his first few notes. They way the rhythm is so lively and jumpy. Then put it in a set with some more hop jigs (it goes well with Top it Of) so you get the rhythm established and show your dreary session acquaintances how it should go.

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Top it Off

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Think you’re probably in a minority on that one, Jon! Don’t play the Butterfly very often, but when I do, I always enjoy the ‘delicate’ second part.

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A few of us indulged in sharing our most disliked tunes at occasional sessions. It was fun at first, but then someone would always be disappointed that a hated tune was on their favorite list - as if you revealed they have an ugly baby or something. Yes, mileage does vary.

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And while I’m here, while one might try to blame The Bothy Band for the ubiquity of this tune as a dirge, a significant proportion of blame should surely go to this very web site’s ubiquity on google searches for the bloody thing. Jeremy himself posted it wrongly as a slip jig and his first words about it are "This tune has something trance-like about it".

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Thank you for broadening my understanding of this tune, Michael. Nice posting of the Potts playing.

I would not be a big fan of this one either, Jon, but still play it whenever it comes up at a session — it’s heaps more bearable than the insufferable "Drowsy Maggie".

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Drowsy Maggie rocks!

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I knew the version I heard wasn’t original! And I don’t like it slowed down and drained of it’s life… Loving the Tommy Potts version. Now THAT’s how a butterfly flutters! Well, except for when it’s dieing… then it’s all "bup de dup de da, bup de dup de duddly, bup de dup de da, ba de dup de duddly, tickety tockety tick…"

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Jon, llig’s remark about "dreary session acquaintances" made me think that your antipathy for this tune might be masking an unspoken loathing for one of your session mates. Certain individuals at our sessions seem determined to stoke my homicidal urges by doing unspeakable things to certain tunes. That’s when I take my break.

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Unfortunately, Drowsy Maggie rarely rocks. But again, this website must take significant blame for that. Jeremy’s original setting, the one every body who know’s nothing of diddley music goes straight too when googled, is very poor.

However:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL_9r0kSGYA&feature=related


And I love Matt Molly’s version on Heathery Breeze. He plays the first part with the lovely hard bottom D:
|:E2BE DEBE|EDBE AFDF|E2BE DEBE|BABc dAFD:|
That’s great on the fiddle, much more interesting bowing.

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"Unfortunately, Drowsy Maggie rarely rocks"

Kind of difficult to find the motivation to rock if you are feeling drowsy, I suppose.

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We’ve taken to playing the first part of Drowsy Maggie with the dropped D (see above) then the The Humours Of Tulla (I had to look that up, didn’t know what it was called) but in G, not D, first and second part, then the last part of Drowsy Maggie, then repeat with the first part of Drowsy Maggie etc.

It’s a great four part reel played singles with some nice modulation. Try it.

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John Doherty rocks. Thanks for that, Michael! :-)

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‘The Blackbird’ - Not the set dance, nor the hornpipe but that awful Blackbird mickey mouse tune that Sharon Shannon played and that any young person who strapped on a box wanted to copy. Thankfully my pain has eased slightly nowadays, yet I often get the odd request to play it. I plead ignorance and play one of the other original tunes.

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This One …
jim,,,

X: 1753
T: The Londonderry Hornpipe
M: C|
L: 1/8
B: O’Neill’s 1753
R: Hornpipe
K: D
(A>G) | F2 A>d f>dA>F | G2 B>d g>dB>G | F2 A>d f>dA>F | E2 G>B e>cA>G |
F2 A>d f>dA>F | G2 B>d g2 a>g | f>af>d B>ge>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
|: (f>g) | a2 f>d A>df>a | g2 e>c A>ce>g | a2 f>d A>dg>f | (3efd (3cdB A2 f>g |
a2 f>d A>df>a | g>ec>e g2 a>g | f>af>d B>ge>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
|: (A>G) | (3FED A>D B>DA>D | d>cd>f e>cA>G | (3FED A>D B>DA>D | E>GF>A G>BA>G |
(3FED A>D B>DA>C | d>cd>f e>ce>g | (3fgf d>f {a}g>ec>e | d>f ((3edc) d2 :|
|:((3efg)|a>^ga>b a>fd>f |g>fg>a g>ec>e |a>^ga>b a>fd>f |(3efd (3cdB A2 ((3efg) |
a>^ga>b a>fd>f | g>fe>f g>ba>g | (3fgf d>f {a}g>ec>e | d>f ((3edc) d2 :|
|: f>g | (3.a.a.a f>d A>df>d |(3.g.g.g e>c A>ce>c |f>dg>e a>fb>g |e>cd>B A2 f>g|
(3.a.a.a f>d A>df>d |(3.g.g.g e>c A2 a>g |f>dA>F E>ge>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
|: (F>G) | A>FA>d f>ed>c | B.GB>e g>fe>d | c>Ac>e a>gf>e | f>cd>B A2 F>G |
A>FA>d f>ed>c | B>GB>d g2 a>g | f>af>d B>ge>c | d2 f2 d2 :|

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"the worst tune ever composed is, without question, the dreaded:
Music For A Found Harmonium!"

The fault here is not with the tune, or with its composer, Simon Jeffes, or The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I think it’s a good tune - humorous, quirky, perhaps annoying in large doses, but maybe by design. The culprits here, I think are the members of Patrick Street, who introduced it into the popular ‘traditional’ repertoire. They themselves, being musicians of outstanding capability, made a good job of it, although a far cry from PCO’s orignal. But it is when the session hoi polloi try to treat it just like any other reel that it really shows its ugliness.

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I’m pretty sure that Music For A Found Harmonium was doing the rounds of sessions in Edinburgh before Burke and Daly recorded it in 1990. I certainly knew the tune before that record.

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If you play in a ceilidh band and sometimes work with a caller that uses "singing" calls, you have no option but to play the tune that is assigned to that particular dance …

… and some of these tunes are absolulutely DIRE - and all definitely far worse than "The Butterfly". Here are just a few examples:

- Coming ‘Round the Mountain
- Blaydon Races
- I Wanna be Near You

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Quiet day at the office, folks? It must be for this thread to get 40-odd replies.Come to think of it why am I bothering? 3rd of Jan, storm outside, telly is sh*t, so why not take the p*ss out of Kiparse. Something to do innit?

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Hey FIDDLE4! The Derry Hornpipe’s not so bad - albeit probably not particluarly good in session environment.

Oddly enough, someone played it at a session that I was at last night. Problem was, that some of us assumed that the guy who started was going to play all of the parts, but what he actually did was to play only the first two parts.

And probably not a good idea to call it the "Londonderry" Hornpipe. Sure to upset some folks.

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And probably not a good idea to call it the "Derry" Hornpipe. Sure to upset some folks

"Stroke City Hornpipe"?

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I’ve noticed that a lot of these suggestions are very well known and much played tunes. There is a part of humanity that objects to things beacuse they are popular, and also the aspect of things being overplayed to the extent of becoming boring.
However, I suggest that the worst tune in the world is so bad that nobody plays it any more, and they won’t even mention it because the very thought of it is enough to send shivers up the spine.
It is for this reason that I won’t mention the tune on here as it might cause distress.

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There’s a part of humanity who rushes the word "because" as well.

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None of the nominations so far come anywhere near plumbing the depths of "Ashokan Farewell".

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"I suggest that the worst tune in the world is so bad that nobody plays it any more, and they won’t even mention it because the very thought of it is enough to send shivers up the spine."

The melody of "The Dundee Ghost" maybe, Weejie?

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Worse tune? the Ten Penny Bit, it just goes on and on repeating itself and people keep playing it because they think everyone is going to enjoy joining in.

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I think the difference between the Butterfly and all of these other tunes is that, to my ear, the other ones CAN be played well - sometimes they’re not, but that’s not the tune’s fault.

As for the Butterfly - well, I’d heard Potts’ version, and it never changed my mind before. I’m still convinced that there’s no way to play this tune well. I’m not basing this on the worst versions I’ve heard, I’m basing it on the best.

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Who gives a sh*te anymore what you think. fecking tosser.

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Love The Butterfly, love The Tenpenny Bit, Love The Kesh …

There’s only two tunes which I just can’t stay in the room for (seriously - I get up and walk out ‘til they’re gone) and it ain’t hard to guess what they are.

Everything, apart from those two [shudder], is great and depends largely on who is playing it.

[I’m having a bad grammar day, in case anyone picks me up on it. ;-) ]

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Love them. Apart from the Butterfly on the bodhran of course.

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CreadurMawnOrganig ..
< Music For A Found Harmonium!" > That remind’s of another pet hate - ” The Anvil ”
jim,,,

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I often attach my like or dislike of tunes by how I first came into contact with them. A fiddle player from Cavan, whom I enjoyed playing with very much, taught me Fergal O’Gara - so I like that tune quite a bit because it reminds me of tunes with that guy. Regretfully, the butterfly and drowsy maggie were bludgeoned to death in front of my very ears at several learner sessions I went to early on, and the poor tunes never recovered or were given a fair chance again. But that’s on me - not the tunes…

As far as Music for a Boned Farmonium goes, the best version is at the end of the indie-film Napoleon Dynamite. It worked perfectly there.

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This is for Jon Kiparsky. Warning though, it’s not a happy ending if you’re a flying insect.
Many years ago I was helping some friends move out of an apartment building. At one point we were standing in front of the building & began a conversation with one of the neighbours. She was a sweet young girl, about 8 years old. It all seemed so pleasant. She said, "Oh, I do love butterflies!" Our hearts were melting as she expressed her joy. Then she said, "Yes, I like to take them on my hand, to hold them … " (this is the bit I can’t remember her exact wording, but something like this) " & then I like to smash them in my hands to make this colourful dust."
I think we both jumped back at that moment. It’s the last thing we expected her to say. Perhaps it will bring a smile to your face Jon, the next time you hear The Butterfly.

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I think I’ll be smiling as I head for the bar. Thanks for that.

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Cheers!

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I am very late to this party. Maybe I haven’t played the butterfly often engough to have it grate on the nerves. But I have two…

From the obscure music collection, as much as I really find Paddy O’Brien tunes interesting and challenging, I can’t get my brain around "The Nervous Man". Hell, I have yet to find a recording of it.

And then there is the Rakes of Mallow….pick a key….please don’t channel John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara

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"I’m pretty sure that Music For A Found Harmonium was doing the rounds of sessions in Edinburgh before Burke and Daly recorded it in 1990. I certainly knew the tune before that record."

OK - I stand corrected.

"I can’t get my brain around "The Nervous Man". Hell, I have yet to find a recording of it."

Try Micheal O Raghallaigh https://thesession.org/recordings/display/168

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Weejie and ethical blend have the scariest stories about the worst tune in the world, because neither of them have told us what the offending tune is. Just like in horror movies, the monster is often more frightening before it is finally revealed.

And zippydw, I have a lifelong love of "I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen" because I first encountered it as Maureen O’Hara’s leitmotif in the movie "Rio Grande." It helps what you think of a piece of music when your young brain associates it with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen!

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Played The Butterfly at the session tonight. Loved it. Thought of this thread and shouted "Again!" after we’d played it three times already. Oh yes!

:-D

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Well said the blend. Hee hee. It’s all about ones attitude to the music.And a bit of, if you can’t stand the heat don’t sit too close to the fire. Jon, if the butterfly fux you off walk away from the music and come back in a few months. You’ll be refreshed.

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…and since I’m here, what about great tuneful tunes like The Shaskeen, The Monaghan Twig, and the Convenience Reel? (Just trying to restore some faith in those who may have become jaundiced by the negativity of this thread…)

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And, of course, Farrel O’Gara. :-)

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Oh, and in your honour, played it on flute, Mr the time. ;-)

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Scattered about various bleak and wind-scarred locales in the land of tunes are some wicked, pallid, numbingly formless and hollowly scary creations, loathsome utterances that feed on the misery of the hapless player that stumbles upon them on his travels…
Those are the bad tunes.

This category doesn’t include the Butterfly or Drowsy Maggie, even though they are at times cliched to tedium, or hundreds, thousands of other good tunes that form the greater part of the music…

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@ Weejie

‘However, I suggest that the worst tune in the world is so bad that nobody plays it any more, and they won’t even mention it because the very thought of it is enough to send shivers up the spine.
It is for this reason that I won’t mention the tune on here as it might cause distress.’

funnily I find that one seems to have dissapeared from all the sessions I play in… probably something to do with that turn in the B part…

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But maybe I’ll try Michael’s Drowsy Humour of Maggie’s Tulla ;-)

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"funnily I find that one seems to have dissapeared from all the sessions I play in… probably something to do with that turn in the B part…"

You got as far as the B part?

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A rather bizarre posting, especially since this lovely tune has been recorded by the finest irish musicians out there, who were no doubt captivated by it,s lively and haunting simplicity. The beauty of any tune is enhanced immensely by the capability of them that play it, while the loveliest of tunes can be massacred by one who lacks the touch and sensitivity. My favoutite version is early Chieftains with Martin Fay on the fiddle, tasty !

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"…and since I’m here, what about great tuneful tunes like The Shaskeen, The Monaghan Twig, and the Convenience Reel? (Just trying to restore some faith in those who may have become jaundiced by the negativity of this thread…) "

You’re completely undermining the soul-destroying nature of this thread. Go and wash your flute out with caustic soda.

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While we’re at it, I want your version of the Shaskeen, Mr the time. Send it me. NOW!

Plea-ea-ea-ea-se. :-D

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Jon: I feel the same pain, and sympathize.

If you want to give The Butterfly another chance, you have to hear it with the traditional lyrics, which I have here.

Then it all might make more sense.

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>You’re completely undermining the soul-destroying nature of this thread. Go and wash your flute out with caustic soda.

You like to suffer do you David?

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Thanks Mr the time! No time (as it were) to listen to it now. I’ve got my own sort of version, but never been happy with it. Mind you, it seems to be one of those tunes that is played fairly differently depending on which particular session you’re at, which can be frustrating. Interesting, but frustrating, especially if you;re just passing through …

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I do believe it’s in O’Neills as a hornpipe - the Shaskeen Clog. I dunno how I still know that useless piece of info…..

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I vaguely remember Paddy Glackin and Jolyon Jackson’s recording of The Butterfly on their album "Hidden Ground" (I think…) in the Eighties: I thought they did it as well as I can recall heard it done, in a light and nippy 3/2 manner.

It does strike me as a tune particularly for an inventive musician who is free / able / willing to play about with it quite a lot, including with the rhythms and note lengths. But the trouble is, my inner dog has been all too well trained to go to sleep when The Butterfly crops up in a session, for the reason that the Butterfly summoned up will almost certainly be an Iron Butterfly with ponderous sweeping wing-strokes like a pterodactyl, or maybe like this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EvolutionofIB.jpg

Or the one on this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heavy_album_cover_(Iron_Butterfly).PNG

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Concertina Reel. Could it be anymore robotic, or less craggy?

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The OP demonstrates that no matter how often the importance of learning to listen properly is pointed out, some people, for whatever reason, still fail to do that.

The Butterfly is not so widely played and recorded by some very good players simply because it’s relatively easy to play.

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"Who gives a sh*te anymore what you think. fecking tosser. "

David Levine, I salute you! The Butterfly used to bore the nips off me, but I’m going to play it regularly from now on just because Jon Kiparsole hates it.

m.d.

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The session.org is so warm and sunny and not a morass of ill-will or resentment at all. Just like a real session. ;-)

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It’s funny, I don’t run into this at real sessions. It’s sort of cute, though. "I hate this random stranger so much I’m going to play a tune I hate just to spite him - even though he’s not here"

Maybe I can do use this spite for a good purpose, though. Emma, I also really don’t like it when people buy rounds of 18-year Laphroaig for the rest of the players. That really chaps my hide.

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David Levine said it first and said it best. Jon, you are random and there is NONE stranger!

Altogether now. Dum, de-dum, de-duuuuuum, dum-de dum-de dubba-dum

m.d. (or emma d if you want to be, like, totally hilarious. At least my name’s not got the word arse in it)

Dum, de-dum, de-duuuuuuuum dum-de, dum-de, dubba-dum
SPLAT! o-god-my-nips-have-fallen-off-but-it-was-worth-it

Re: The worst tune in the world

"people buy rounds of 18-year Laphroaig"
Where is this, Jon? Normally I avoid the Road to Boston (well, the trip, not the marching tune), but I would make an exception for a magical place where things like that happen!

Re: The worst tune in the world

"Where is this, Jon? Normally I avoid the Road to Boston (well, the trip, not the marching tune), but I would make an exception for a magical place where things like that happen!"

I was wondering the same thing.

Re: The worst tune in the world

Oh, I was just hoping that Emmy would go and buy a bunch of whiskey for his sessionmates, just to spite me. If I can get him to play a tune he hates, just to p*ss me off, who knows what else I can get him to do? Worth a try, anyway.

Come to think of it, it has happened that patrons have bought whiskey for the musicians while I’ve been playing. Maybe three times in the three years I’ve been in Boston, and Jamie’s, not Laphroaig, but I’m not going to complain.

Re: The worst tune in the world

So, there’s no 18-year Laphroaig.
:-(

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Re: The worst tune in the world

:-(

Re: The worst tune in the world

Oh, this is pathetic.
Emily, are you going to make sad faces too?

Re: The worst tune in the world

:-(

Re: The worst tune in the world

Jon, You complain about playing tunes (with "complain" being an understatement), but you don’t complain when you get a Jamieson’s instead of a Laphroaig? All I can say to that is it belies your true sense of taste.

Posted .

Re: The worst tune in the world

If someone buys a round of drinks for the musicians, I’m certainly not going to turn up my nose at them.

Re: The worst tune in the world

But would you play The Butterfly for them?

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Re: The worst tune in the world

Nope.

Re: The worst tune in the world

Sorry - for the person, or for the shots? For the person, maybe. It’s the worst tune in the world, but hell, worse things happen at sea. If they desperately wanted to hear it, maybe.
For the shots? No. I’ll buy my own whisky.

Re: The worst tune in the world

I’m not sure it’s an either or situation. Someone buys a round of shots for the musicians & then casually asks if they would like to play The Butterfly. I suppose it comes down to how your mates respond.

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Re: The worst tune in the world

Whatever. If someone wants to buy a round, I’ll take it and say thank you. If someone wants me to play a tune I don’t want to play, I’ve forgotten that I know it. It’s simple, don’t try to make it complicated.

Re: The worst tune in the world

Good advice.

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Re: The worst tune in the world

I can’t think what brought me here, but I’d like to chime in a year later and agree that, after many many repetitions, The Butterfly is as dull as all hell (I’m also sick to the back bloody teeth of Foxhunters; nuer mer ner mer mer ner-ner… shoot me now).

But I think you’ve overlooked a candidate for worst tune in the world. I understand it’s written for a specific dance, but the dance is also as dull as a stump - Swedish masquerade. Godawful tune, kill it, kill it with fire.

Re: The worst tune in the world

If I play a tune, and it’s boring or hackneyed, it’s my bloody fault.

Love the Butterfly. Love all the tunes on here, if well-played. I adore Farrell O’Gara. I was never sold, compositionally on the B part from Drowsy Maggie. It seems like a cliche B part from another tune. But I like the version that stays in E minor (Chulrua called it "Drowsy Maggie" and Martin Hayes called it "The Reel with the Birl") and that’s the version I happened to learn first and the one I generally play. It never gets called in sessions in my parts these days. Nobody plays it anymore. It’s too common.

These are all solid tunes that have stood the test of time, for good reason. The difficulty comes with casual players (NNTATWWT!) who learn a few tunes like these, get them under their fingers, and then stop developing. They come week after week without learning new ones, and they want to play them again and again. Well, that’s not the tune’s fault. And there is certainly room in this vast tradition for the casual player. You can also be a fine player and still stick to the old chestnuts. But I find that the people who never move beyond a few introductory tunes never move beyond a very basic technique, and don’t get better at musical expression. They’ve achieved their goal of being able to "join in at sessions" and that’s all they want or need out of the instrument.

There’s a place for them, too. Usually, they pack up early, and leave it to the obsessives… whereever the obsessive happens to be in their technical development on their instrument. And then the last hour or so is where the real fun starts. But the cliche tunes are out of the way, or they are extremely well executed and we’re reminded why they are classics.

But my objection is never to the tune. It’s to the player who becomes predictable, who imposes a bad version of the tune on everyone week after week, and who always starts the one or two tunes I know he’s going to start, going on for years.

In my session, we have a player with very bad timing issues when playing solo or starting a tune, and struggles with technique. But God bless him, he thinks of GREAT TUNES, that I had forgotten about! And gives me a challenge and a surprise or two every week. Love having him, because he draws out hidden treasures in other players, even though he doesn’t play well. (He does better when everyone around him is playing… most of the time).

I’d rather have him than someone who shows up with, say, "Morrison’s" week in and week out, even with better technique. And I love Morrison’s!

I’m now teaching some summer fiddle workshops, and we do learn tunes. I try to teach a concept with a tune, or a tune with a concept. And I’ve tried to pick tunes that are accessible, that are reasonably widely known, but just off the beaten path. So if they go to a new town and play in a sesh and start a tune, they can be reasonably confident that they aren’t playing one that’s been done to death or run into "we just did that one!"