Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Minced, mashed and fannied about with

No, not the major O’Neill’s collections, but a question about keys.

I’m pretty sure this has been discussed before - so, if a tune is listed as being in the key of Amixolydian (eg Tom Billy’s Jig), then the key sig would have 2 sharps, C# & F#.

Now, suppose you are clearly hearing a G# in the tune, in an ornament, for example. Is the tune really in A major?

What are the official / unoffical rules for notating tunes like these?

I’m thinking about fiddle here mainly. If you listen to the De Danaan recording of this, where Frankie Gavin takes the lead on the melody, you can clearly hear the G#, right on the first roll, and all the way through the rest of the tune - it’s very "crisped".

On other recordings by diferent players, the G# is not so obvious - fluffed, for want of a better word. Or not heard at all.

I’m curious, because this sort of thing is cropping up in my own compositions, which I won’t bore you with here.

What’s the consensus on the "rules"?

Thanks.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Maybe that’s why the dots people invented a natural sign.

Accidentals & quarter tones

There are also notes between the cracks… Such things have been discussed here previously. What ‘rules’? Look also into ‘harmonic’ and ‘melodic’ key signatures, etc… Such little nudges aren’t confined to minor scales…

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Sharps in rolls don’t need to appear in key signatures.

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"Now, suppose you are clearly hearing a G# in the tune, in an ornament, for example. Is the tune really in A major?"

Keys are designated in writing so that you won’t have to write in all the sharps and flats. If every G was sharp and the tune was noted to be in D major, Then someone made a theoretical mistake. A grace note and a cut are different it seems to me. Since it’s a cut, most of the time the actually note isn’t even being heard so in a sense, it becomes insignificant.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Just play whatever you think sounds best. Who’s to tell you you’re wrong?

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G# not in an ornament

"…hearing a G# in the tune, in an ornament…"

Ornaments are primarily percussive and rhythmic rather than melodic.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

It is the modality of the tune itself that matters, not the notes used in ornaments. Even if there are no Gs of either flavour in the melody, the mode is important, because it tells the accompanist what chords to use to give the tune the right feeling.

And it becomes even more important with droning instruments like the pipes - If you write the tune in A Major, the V chord is E, which contains G#, which will clash violently with your A drone. Writing the tune in Amix tells the accompanist not to use the E chord.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"If you write the tune in A Major, the V chord is E, which contains G#, which will clash violently with your A drone. Writing the tune in Amix tells the accompanist not to use the E chord."

And this is another reason why you shouldn’t worry about this stuff Worldfiddler, cause I have a different opinion than him. To him, an Emaj chord clashes with an Adrone. To me, that is just an Esus4 chord(E major chord with an A in it) with the A being on the bottom. The dissonance(clash) it makes sets up for great resolution. It’s only one note, and a bit of dissonance can do a tune some good.

Do what gam says and play what you think sounds best because we all tend to have different astetics.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Yes, as a fiddler you play what sounds best, modes and keys don’t matter at all - for a fiddler playing in Amix is exactly the same as playing in Dmaj.

But when you come to write it out the difference still isn’t important to a fiddler, but it is to other musicians. A tune written in Amix, with two sharps on the signature (even if every single G has an accidental #) will be given different harmonies to a tune written with three sharps on the signature.

And yes, the G#/A dissonance can add interest sometimes, but the whole reason for writing the tune in Amix is to tell you to avoid it in this particular tune.

The OP asked why a particular tune was transcribed in Amix and not Amaj, and that is the reason. There are always arguments about what to do with the G when fiddlers pick up pipe tunes, and there is no set answer - some tunes sound better if you sharpen the G, others lose their character completely, but the person who transcribed the tune has done the right thing by keeping it in Amix even though the ornaments might contain G#s.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

If you’re reading it, then as stated above, go with what sounds best to you. If you are writing it, and you want to avoid ambiguity, you can always write the accidental in brackets.

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Music notation for the highland pipes does not have any indication as to the key, as none is needed. There are plenty of tunes transcribed as A mix just because they were originally highland pipe tunes, despite the fact that they would sound better with G sharps.
The problem is, do you change them to make them sound better, or leave them so as not to clash with the pipes, or to remain faithful to the original score? In my experience, any other instrument (except drums) played with the pipes does not sound right.
It’s all a compromise. Do what sounds right.

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Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

There are an awful lot more pipe tunes transcribed for the fiddle with added G sharps that make them sound crap (hint: any Scottish tune book published in Inverness with Celtic knotwork borders on the pages).

"G# in the tune, in an ornament" ~ any accidental in an ‘ornament’

As already mentioned by Dow and David and others ~ anything goes for a bit of twiddling, but also true with secondary/weaker notes to a beat, for example in 4/4 time ~ the weaker points shown with an asterisk (*), the primary with a P, the secondary with an S, just as a loose example that more play can occur on those points of the asterisk ~

M: 4/4
L: 1/8
~ | P*** S*** | ~ | P*s* S*s* | ~ it’s all part of the craic, but not to be over done… And when you throw in an ornament that is a run of notes, as in a roll ~ there too your opportunities to nudge can be taken, sometimes by accident… I mean, what better name for them than ‘accidentals’, eh?

I do love those quarter tones… 😎

Also slurring between notes, creating anticipation, and interest…

Back to rolls, an alternate way of treating that opportunity is to not roll and to touch down on an accidental ~ for example ~

M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
~ | ~E3 B GecG | ~ or ~ | E^DEB GecG | ~

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"any Scottish tune book published in Inverness with Celtic knotwork borders on the pages"

I thought you were referring to Christine Martin’s books for a moment, but she is based on Skye (though she was in Tain long ago).

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Of course those are the books he’s referring to you old pedant. At least the first two volumes were published from Tain, which is as near to Inverness as anyone would want to get.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Don’t forget that notation happened long after music started. Music does not have to obey notation. Notation attempts to describe music. Play what sounds good.

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Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Look at that Paddy Fahy tune, the famous reel in D dorian (the one that starts D-A-D-F-E-F-G) The B part throws in an F#. Doesn’t make it D mix. Correctly messing up the mode, as Fahy does, makes for a fascinating twist.

It’s in dorian but this mode is how the tune’s overall "feel" is. Fahy’s one D# though techniclaly "wrong" for the mode actually makes the tune MORE dorian, because it sets off its "Dorian-ness" so to speak.

And if you are backing the damn thing and you play a D minor (or A minor) chord on top of that one note you ‘ll kill the chune 😉

Ornament signature?

Ceolachan, you’re spot on. Key signatures aren’t necessarily accurate, complete, nor mandatory; simple guidelines for some, but may become an obsession if you let them.

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Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Got a link to that tune?

I guess it modulates, either to A dorian or D mixolydian? Modal systems don’t have a problem with that.

But if you think in terms of stuff like Esus4/A, sorry, your jazz is showing.

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There’s a fine and experienced musician (box) in my session who reads neither dots nor ABC, and isn’t the slightest bit worried by the fact. A discussion like this would pass him by like a puff of smoke.

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This has nothing to do with notation, it’s about which notes you play. (I’ve met musicians who regard inability to read music as an excuse to play badly, too).

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Thanks everyone, for all the replies.

I’ve decided to put the "Tom Billy’s", (and similar tunes) in A major, with a firm instruction for backing tracks that no 3rds be played. I think 4th, 5ths and octaves would be fine.

So, after reading all the replies, my decision is to set the key according to the audible notes in the tune, regardless of whether the audible pitches are embedded in ornaments,

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"Of course those are the books he’s referring to you old pedant. "

Oh really? I never would have guessed.

"At least the first two volumes were published from Tain, which is as near to Inverness as anyone would want to get."

I think I’d want to get to Inverness sooner than I’d want to get to Stranraer, old fruit. Ask any Cumbrian.

Dingwall is a bit nearer than Tain. But then you thought Dornoch was in Caithness.
I’m quite aware of which books (and cassettes) were published when Christine and Alasdair were in Tain - I knew them pretty well back then. However, that was about thirty years ago or so, and Broadford is rather a long way from Inversneckie.

The point was that Jack was being a bit too scathing of Christine’s publications. She got the foot in at the right time and has done well for herself and her family. OK, so some transcriptions are a wee bit suspect, but generally, she’s probably done more for Scottish music than Jack Campin - or the wee man in Stranraer who’s scared of Inverness.

But back to the subject - structure is the thing. Gracing is personal - and those notes ain’t fluffed.

(Written) in A major … (w/)no 3rds played.

Why no thirds?

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Roger Landis on Tom Billy’s jig & Mandornaments …

http://archive.mandolinsessions.com/aug05/tombilly.html

"As in my previous columns I’ve transcribed the tune three ways: 1st with just the bare bones melody, 2nd is a version with some ornamentation (see my column in the *February/March Mandolin Sessions for an explanation of these ornaments)"
*http://web.archive.org/web/20050209021643/http://www.mandolinsessions.com/feb05/celtic.html

Mandornaments:
"The term "ornaments" as it is frequently used in Irish music is something of a misnomer. Unlike the ornamentation in Baroque music, for instance, the "ornaments" in Irish music actually have more rhythmic impact than melodic value."

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Roger Landes

Sorry for misspelling Roger’s surname. Also, this is the direct link to his article for "Bush on the Hill"/Mandornaments/sheet music …
http://archive.mandolinsessions.com/feb05/celtic.html

I couldn’t find it earlier & just posted from the wayback machine ^ ^ ; this one’s more complete.
;)

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Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

[*Why no thirds?*] In the accompaniment, to something like Tom Billy’s? It wouldn’t sound right, I don’t think. It needs the bareness of 5th / octaves.

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" she’s probably done more for Scottish music than Jack Campin"

That’s a bit of a major understatement isn’t it? An ego centric website and some very dubious opinions are hardly going to have any effect whatsoever on Scottish music.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Inverness is my home town, by the way. Nuffing wrong with it, mun. It’s a quite long way from either Syke or Tain and the latter is in a different county entirely.

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"But if you think in terms of stuff like Esus4/A, sorry, your jazz is showing."

Jack - I assume you are referring here to fiddlearner’s comment on the interaction between drones and guitar chords. He may know a thing or two about jazz, but he was merely making an observation and relating it to his musical experience outside the trad sphere. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but accompanists *do* often play an E major chord against an A drone (or in the case of uilleann pipes, an A major chord against a D drone), not because they are incompetent, but because it sounds right to them. In the case of the uillean pipes, there are plenty of tunes that contain A major arpeggios (thus implying that chord as the harmony), yet are played with the D drones.

Actually, Jerone, it wouldn’t be an Esus4, as it contains the 3rd as well as the 4th. I think ‘Eadd11’ would be closer to the mark - or just E/A.

Moving back even further to skreech’s comment.
"If you write the tune in A Major, the V chord is E, which contains G#, which will clash violently with your A drone. Writing the tune in Amix tells the accompanist not to use the E chord."

I don’t think it is the G# against the A drone that is the problem - it is more to do with when there is a G-natural in the melody (which, if sharpened, would imply an E major chord). In that scenario, you would have a G, G# and A all played simultaneously - beats beating against beats beating against beats…

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"Inverness is my home town, by the way. Nuffing wrong with it, mun. It’s a quite long way from either Syke or Tain and the latter is in a different county entirely."

Tain is just 25 miles from Inverness, and with no other big towns in the area, ‘near Inverness’ is a pretty good way to describe where it is.

If the residents of Inverness think 25 miles is a long way away, and separated from them by some imaginary border, that might be part of the reason why others tend to avoid the place.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"and with no other big towns in the area"

It depends on what you call a "big town" (by Scottish standards). Tain, after all, is a royal burgh. Inversneckie is a city. The music scene in Easter Ross is quite distinct within itself. That "25 miles" is only because of the two crossings over the Cromarty and Beauly firths. Before those bridges were built it would take a fair while to get to Inverness from Tain - even with the ferry. The combined populations of Tain, Alness and Invergordon (now there’s a hole) would equal, roughly, the same as the population of that remote little hidey-hole where you live, Skreech.
You don’t hear people say that Stranraer is "near Glasgow" or "Near Dumfries". You wouldn’t say that you "make instruments in Ayr" either.
Anyway, it’s beside the point. Christine Martin doesn’t publish her books in Inverness - and she never has done. Anything she published in Tain is now published in Skye. It was misinformed crap.

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"that might be part of the reason why others tend to avoid the place."

What others? There is far more music going on in Inversneckie than your neck of the woods. Music that is influential too.

You are just displaying ignorance and bigotry.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

I have seen older sources that give D mix tunes two sharps, and then show every C nat with a natural sign, as if they are all accidentals, or notes that don’t fit the normal scale that goes with that tune. Some of those older sources also comment on the odd note choices of The Music, as if it is alien to their classical sensibilities.
Newer collections tend to just put sharps or whatever in the key signatures to indicate the notes that are played in a manner other than a C natural scale in the tune, much more economical.
Doing it the old way helps give you a clue to the tonal center of the tune, for example, the marking of two sharps in a D mix tune indicates that the tune is in D, where marking it with one sharp for a D mix gives the impression that the tune might be in G (a mistake that sometimes appears in the tune database).
And one accidental in a tune, or even a few, does not change the key or mode. And God forbid we should try to keep track of notes in ornaments, especially since different instruments often ornament with different notes!

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"Doing it the old way helps give you a clue to the tonal center of the tune, for example, the marking of two sharps in a D mix tune indicates that the tune is in D, where marking it with one sharp for a D mix gives the impression that the tune might be in G (a mistake that sometimes appears in the tune database)."

I don’t think so. And it isn’t "the old way". It’s just a wrong way. In classical music, a key signature of two sharps could indicate that the piece is in D major, B minor, or a number of modes, which are also used in trad, but are definitely present in the classical tradition as well. It’s just that a lot of amateur (and even some professional) classical musicians don’t understand that.

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Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Sorry, I’ve been proved wrong again by the all-knowing weejie.

Inverness is in fact the cultural capital of Europe. And I mistakenly thought that all the tourist who flock to Scotland were coming to see the mountains and glens. But I now know they’re really coming to see the pole-dancing clubs of Inverness.

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"That "25 miles" is only because of the two crossings over the Cromarty and Beauly firths. Before those bridges were built it would take a fair while to get to Inverness from Tain - even with the ferry."

Good point, Weeje.
Until the bridges were built, Tain wasn’t a place which you could get to that easily from Inverness although, admittedly, there was a train service. Dingwall was as far as most of us got although we might venture as far as Beauly etc quite regularly and to Nerrn etc through the East.

I’ve actually visited The Black Isle more often during the last few years than ever I did when I used to live up there.

There is actually a lot of good music in Dumfries and Galloway too but it’s not really necessary to visit Stranraer unless you are travelling to Ireland.
🙂

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

>>"it’s not really necessary to visit Stranraer unless you are travelling to Ireland."

You don’t even need to go to Stranraer for that now - both ferry companies have moved out of the town. The only reason to go there now would be to look at boarded up shops or buy drugs.

Thankfully (despite what weejie might think) our village is almost as far from Stranraer as Tain is from Inverness, which goes to show how groundless this argument is.

And 25 miles really doesn’t make any difference to the accuracy of Jack’s comment, which was spot on.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"Inverness is in fact the cultural capital of Europe."

As far as Scottish traditional music is concerned, Inverness is a significant place. Moreover, it is the Highland capital - and a damn sight more towrists visit the city than Skreechville.
But whatever its importance, Christine Martin does not publish music there - and even if she published her books in Fortrose it still wouldn’t be Inverness. So continue displaying your ignorance, even when there is an Invernesian telling you you are talking sheight.
I’m sure the likes of Dagger Gordon and Ian MacBeath would be amused at your rantings on the proximity of Easter Ross to Inversneckie.

"but it’s not really necessary to visit Stranraer unless you are travelling to Ireland."

I’ve even managed to avoid the toon when catching the ferry.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

"And 25 miles really doesn’t make any difference to the accuracy of Jack’s comment, which was spot on"

It was bowlarks. Inverness is not Broadford.

" our village is almost as far from Stranraer as Tain is from Inverness,"

Your address says you are in Sandhead - about 7 miles or so from Stranraer. Who are you kidding?

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Our postal address is Sandhead. Sandhead is twelve mile from Stranraer, not 7, and we actually live some way past Sandhead.

The books weren’t published in Broadford, they were published from Outram Place, Tain. She may have subsequently moved, but that doesn’t change the place of publication.

If you want to argue with Jacks assessment of the books, do it on the substance of what he said, not on a minor detail that is of absolutely no relevance, and where what he said is basically accurate, but not quite specific enough for you.

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"The books weren’t published in Broadford, they were published from Outram Place, Tain"

First edition Ceol na Fidhle volumes 1 and 2 were published in Tain. Christine moved to Skye many, many years ago and subsequently revised those volumes, bringing them into a single volume comprising the two books, and published in Skye (that’s how publishing works - you re-vamp the book significantly, which she has done, you re-publish it ). I believe she still has stock of volume 1, but not two. The paramount issue is that none of them were published in Inverness. Now cut along and measure the distance from Sandhead to Stranraer - it’s nowhere near 25 miles - nor is it as much as 12 miles:

http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/

Distance: 7.4 miles (show in km)
Time: 0 hr 19 min


Even Kirkmaiden is only 16.5 miles from Stranraer, and if you stayed there, you wouldn’t be listing Sandhead as your address.


Who are you kidding?

"If you want to argue with Jacks assessment of the books, do it on the substance of what he said, not on a minor detail that is of absolutely no relevance, and where what he said is basically accurate, but not quite specific enough for you."

Hmm…now what exactly did he say?

"any Scottish tune book published in Inverness with Celtic knotwork borders on the pages"

So that was a bit vague, non?

So I responded :- not just to pinpoint his inaccuracy, but to subtly hint that he was being a bit scathing - as has subsequently been expressed. What business it is of yours, I’m uncertain.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

And, for the record:

http://www.theaa.com/route-planner

From Tain to Inverness:

Distance: 34.3 miles (show in km)
Time: 0 hr 45 min

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

How ironic, my browser cannot find the page for the route-planner.

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I’ll just pitch in here, since we’re talking about actual, just along the road from me (9.4 miles) pals of mine.

Yes, Jack was being rather scathing in his comments above, IMVHO. Now, whilst I appreciate Jack’s contribution to the idiom, I must say I would have thought such a supposedly esteemed character would have shown more restraint on a public forum. Simply put, there was no need. Those comments were completely uncalled for and all rather wildly off topic.

In terms of contribution to the scots musical idiom few can claim to have had as much influence as Christine, decades of physical playing and teaching throughout the north and west of scotland have benefited legions of kids in particular, a veritable one woman feisan movement. It’s as simple as that.

Love hate or indifference towards her publications is a matter of individual sensibility. Sure, there are a few inaccuracies, but as Christine will tell you herself; these volumes don’t set out to be, or claim to be, definitive, it’s up to the player to get out there and sort it out. One only has to look at the database here to grasp the true meaning of inaccuracy.

Lets not get caught up on geography, shee’ite is shee’ite. Lets get back on topic!

Incidentals don’t a mode, tonal centre or a key make, in most forms of irish trad, and scots for that matter.

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OFFS, what have I started here? 🙂

[*That’s a bit of a major understatement isn’t it? An ego centric website and some very dubious opinions are hardly going to have any effect whatsoever on Scottish music.*]

I like that one!

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Oh, and in the end, I suppose the best advice to those who are bothered by the key signatures and stuff is to get their nose out of the book, and use their ears. Then they won’t be bothered by all those notational notions.

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"Actually, Jerone, it wouldn’t be an Esus4, as it contains the 3rd as well as the 4th. I think ‘Eadd11’ would be closer to the mark - or just E/A."

E/A. Thanks for the correction and other things you mentioned in your post Creadur.

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

I call that particular grouping of pitches, "a bunch of notes," which, as you can point out to the pedants around you, is always an accurate description!

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

I call that particular grouping of pitches, "a bunch of notes,"

It’s always good to see a bit of commonsense on this board.

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Common sense is nice, but Scottsmen arguing about who lives in the bigger pishhole has it charms too.

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As is the charm of elfish infants who cannae grasp what was being said, cannae spell, and are oblivious to the fact that Skreech isn’t Scottish.

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E/A or Amaj7sus2.

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I spend a weekend on Skye and miss out on all this!

Re: Minced, mashed and fannied about with

Is that a complaint?

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A maj 9th (no 3rd).

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Tom billys is in A mix FFS! why transcribe it with the wrong key? what help is that?

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I wouldn’t normally want to hear the harmony of an Amaj9th in an Amix tune! (The G# is non modal)

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But…sometimes what looks wrong on the page or in theory is the thing that makes it work!

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Don’t know, Tawny. It’s a toss up between hanging about (literally) on the Cuillin Ridge or watching another Screech-Weejie mash-up.

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It could be worse. You could have had a weekend in Stranraer.

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Tom billys is in A mix FFS! why transcribe it with the wrong key? what help is that?
# Posted on May 28th 2012 by piobagusfidil

Phew, panic over, order has been restored!

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[*a question.Tom billys is in A mix FFS! why transcribe it with the wrong key? what help is that? *]

Yes, that be A mix FFS (Fudged and Fannied Scale) with a G# in it.

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Instead we enjoyed the delights of the Inn on the Pin, the best pub on Skye.