a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Me and pete were having a music discussion, which prompted him to say: "I would NEVER play Floweres of Edinburgh…". I stopped him and asked him why. He said it is THE OLDEST most-used tune on the planet, a tired old tune. Didnt bothy band record it inthe 70’s? I quite like it myself, though I have played it a million times. It is an old warhorse of a tune here in Victoria, played superfast, often as a tag-end to a bunch of reels. He said it’s so overexposed that authors dont even include it in compilations…

I argued that "worn-out" tunes are probably a local phenomenon, that their popularity in certain gepgrophic regions is contrasted with their relative obscurity in others. I haven’t travelled enough to know. My Global question, then,is: "How do you rate the Flowers of Edinburgh" around the world?

Please, I’d like to hear a poll of specific answers, just yay or nay will do
haha …no wndering off topic, no hijacking the thread, no waxing poetic…

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Don’t think I’ve heard it played at our seish…

Posted by .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

YES!

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I’ve heard it played now and then, certainly not "shunned", but not played superfast either … but then most things sound sh*te when played superfast … IM(NV)HO :-)

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I play it regularly in session and ‘in gig’, and I’ve included it in one of the sets I submitted for the "Mighty Craic".

It’s a lovely tune if you simply play it to bring out its melodic beauty, without trying to do too much to change it, as a lot of people try to do. Yes, I think it sounds good, but like everything else, it can be overdone, and over-modified (and over here). :-)

Jim

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

…and the first few bars sound like the start of "Christmas Eve"…….!!!

Jim

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

its played a bit but not over done

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

yes,it’s sometomes played in the sessions i go to but it certainly is n’t overplayed,i would say.
btw,i hope you know that the flowers in the title refer to sewers.
thta’s my kind of tune,lol-you can get as dirty and gritty as you like!

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

no i didn’t know that.. is it local knowledge? Is is derogatory for a southerner to speak thusly about northern landmarks/culture? ooh gawd I don’t want to start a gang war! I look on a map and i see town after town after town, after village after town, each one dripping with history….

woops.. g’byenow, before I digress…

THX and keep the Worldwide Poll Going Please..

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

?…im(nv)ho.. "in my now very humble opinion?"

also regarding SPEED.. this is exactlywhat happens, don’t you think? to "tired old tunes"? They get flogged to death, sped up, sped up, and sped up again, and if the tune is a true WARHORSE, it can take the beatings and STill come out galloping…

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

ROFLMAO @ "no wandering off topic, no hijacking the thread", like you’ve never been guilty of that Veronica?! :-)

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

you got that part right! as orson said in a recent thred: Kettle/ Black? so answer the Kvestion already. Yuo guys n gals play Sewers of Edinburgh downunder?

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

No, I’ve never heard it played down here. The only Scottish reel with those hornpipey endings that would pass the purity screening doon here is "The New Rigged Ship".

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

ah ys indeed the new rigged and the high rigged ships.. Shetland, Aly Bain Phil Cunningham,… so no Flowers?

Mark, Dow; as in Man Who Marks Papers? I picture you in an eternal gymnasium full of row-by-row desks of students furiously writing exams..is this accurate?

I am swimming this cyber-ocean, trying to make sense of a wilderness….

PlEASE To All Sessioners: When writing your bios: the more is the better. Check out Dow’s generous self-description. your gardeners and interseted persons can weed through and find the grit and rhythem in your projections. Don’t write, like, "hi.. I love this music.." cuz it aint enuf…OK?

HHahA I GET THe AWaRD For Being most off-topic in mY own THREAD EVEN

Please do carry on : Flowers of Edinburdg, is it in your rep? (I have money on it) thx

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

uh. missed that, endings? purity screenings? don’t esactly unnerstan? please can you explain thx Dow

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Well, in our session, before you play a set you have to have it screened for purity. We all clubbed together and bought what’s called a TPSD ("Tune Purity Screening Device", about $900 Australian), which we keep on the table beside all the drinks (they make them beerproof nowadays). Back in the 80s, they used to be huge machines like photocopiers, but now they’re hand-held things like a large mobile phone with a memory for thousands of tunes. You have to get someone to hold it up next to your instrument and hold down a button. You play the first 2 bars of each tune in the set you intend to play. If you get a green light, you can go ahead with the set. If you get a flashing red light and alarm, it’s a no-no. You wouldn’t even need to play the hornpipe endings for "The Flowers Of Edinburgh" - the machine would be able to tell what tune it was from the 1st few notes and the light and alarm would go off. Recent TPSDs are accepting "The New Rigged Ship" because Altan recorded it on "Harvest Moon". You can program it to reject certain tunes that have gone out of fashion, or ones that you simply don’t like. They’re very useful because if you get a new person coming into the session, there’s no awkwardness like "no we don’t want you to play that tune cuz we don’t like it", you just leave the decisions to the TPSD and nobody can argue.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Dow, you’re in the wrong business. :-D hahahahahahaha

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

he is very funny isn’t he Jack,, i love it when he bites the bait, and extrapolates.

yeah a TPSD. so then we run tunes through a laminating machine and see if they get sealed in plastic or are too oily to adhere….

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

so , to review so far, I think it’s fair to say that Floweres of Edinburgh, as a pure, sweet, fast tune (which is how it is played here)is a Local, not Intenational, phenomenon.

so, as extension.. I really am interested in various local phenomena,ie the colloquial popularity of tunes …

it would make for a hefty "study" i am sure. I have looked over a few publications, and am exposed to quite a lot of recordings via my dear Pete. The fairly new Melbay Irish Session Tunes lists a particu;ar 300 odd tunes,collected mostly in the Boston area circa 1990, Ed Reavy has his own take on ITM from his Corktown perspective, O Neills of course we know about, and Fhillips Howdowns and Bereakdowns, and um.. PETER COOPER is it wu=ith the really super Fiddlers Fake book. And most recently i skimmed through sometyhing called Irelands 101 Best Session Tunes.

My point, if you can bear with me, is: all these compilations remain subjective. The author ANNounces "THE 100 Best Session Tunes" but of course he means IMHO.. right?

my further point is: if we are all discussing ITM instantly and GLobally.. have we not jumped the gun?

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

It is of course used globally as a Morris dance tune :-)

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Wow, Morris music is global? Maybe English music IS as popular as Irish music.

I’m glad they have some kind of music suitable for English concertinas though. I have noticed that English-system concertina players sound like they’re playing Morris tunes when they try to play the Irish stuff.

(heh heh)

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Jack

I really shouldn’t rise to it but:

Morris music is global as Morris dancing is also global, there are teams wherever an English man has rested his bones. It is rife in the USA with well over 100 sides, your local side is White Rats Morris (world’s first queer/pervert/leather Morris team, to quote their blurb.

As to the use of the English concertina you are talking b@@locks.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

See what happens when in-jokes get out of hand?

Reminds me of that one time on my way to play recorder in a high level session, just after the cow-tipping festival, when I remembered I’d left my shakey egg near the bodhran bonfire at home, tucked into a curiously sequined knee-high boot.

I tried to turn around and drive back, but my unicycle got caught in a groove and I couldn’t swing it out at first. Eventually it came free and I attempted to carry on, but kept on going off track.

Posted by .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

oops, sorry Veronica. Flowers. Right.

Posted by .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

You’ll not be surprised to know that it’s played frequently around Edinburgh but not any more so than many other war horses. Jim Dorans, I’ve always thought that the first few bars of Christmas Eve sounded a bit like Flowers of Edinburgh. :-)

As for the title, the common consensus is that the "flowers" referred to the contents of chamber pots which the residents threw out the tenement windows before Armitage Shanks came on the scene. :-) There are other theories too.
"As regards the title, the convention “Flower of…” usually referenced a woman, although in the case of “Edinburgh” the plural form was appended at some point and stuck. The plural title appears in Herd’s Scots Songs (without music) and in The Scots Musical Museum (1787, No. 13). Gow notes parenthetically in his Complete Repository (Part 4, 1817) that the ‘flowers’ of Edinburgh did not refer to comely females but in fact referenced the magistrates of the town. Some say the ‘flowers’ were female, although the females in question were prostitutes. It has also been suggested that the title refers to the stench of the old, overcrowded urban Edinburgh—a city fondly referred to as “Auld Reekie”, which does not bespeak of a putrid, reeking smell, but rather comes from the Norwegian word røyk, meaning smoke. Thus ‘Auld Reekie’ refers to the pall of smoke that once hovered over the city, having been constantly spewed forth by its hearths. Finally, the ‘flowers of Edinburgh’ has been taken to refer to the contents of chamber pots which were, in the days before modern sewage systems, once disposed of by being thrown into the city streets (with or without the shouted warning "Gardez l’eau!" or “Mind yourself!”). Paul de Grae finds this latter interpretation in modern times incorporated by novelist Ian Rankin in one of his Inspector Rebus crime novels. Rebus, an Edinburgh detective, is being addressed by an "hard man" whose warning narrowly averted the Inspector’s stepping in canine excrement. It will help to know human waste is called keech or keach in Ulster and Scotland (similar to the French caca, Italian cacca, Finnish and Icelandic kakku, and German kaka):

:***

"Know what ‘flowers of Edinburgh’ are?"
"A rock band?"
"Keech. They used to chuck all their keech out of the
windows and onto the street. There was so much of it

lying around, the locals called it the flowers of Edinburgh.

I read that in a book."

***

The renowned County Donegal fiddler, John Doherty (1895-1980) had his own idiosyncratic take on the title. In the notes for the album "The Floating Bow,” Alun Evans writes of Doherty:

***

I can only say that I never found him to be other than exhilarating

company. Yet he was hard to pin down on detail, for in his mind fact and

fantasy were so tightly interwoven as to be indivisible - at least he led

you to believe so. He would tell how James Scott Skinner had composed the

tune ‘The Flowers of Edinburgh’ after a Miss Flowers with whom he was

besotted at the time. John must have known that this didn’t ring true but a

story was a story, perhaps an example of the ‘true Celtic madness’ which is

said to be ‘not psychotic but merely a poetic confusion of the real and the

imagined.’

***"

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Veronica, your "simple question" has brought forth a most entertaining and informative thread!! Love the history bit John, and Q what a vivid visual you have created, I can just *see* you on that unicycle, and that glittery boot, it’s all like Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds or something like that, very Sgt. Pepper. Dow, I love that purity scanning device, very inventive!

Posted by .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Listen to Micheal O Raghallaigh’s ‘The Nervous Man’. He does great justice to it as a hornpipe.

Played Scottish country dance band style, it doesn’t do much for me, but then, few tunes do.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

With no intention of trying to guide this errant horse back on track, I’ll just shout out this reply as it gallops past: Flowers of Edinburgh has been played at the dances and parties around here for 25 years or so, and occasionally rears its head at our local session. I might be mistaken but it may have found its way up here through a New England (New Hampshire?) compilation of tunes called the Nelson collection. I have the opinion that it is a tired old beater of a tune that deserves to be flogged, if only because of its horpipe-like qualities. Maybe a different saddle like the key of Eb would change the nature of the beast.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

My apologies, that should be hornpipe, not horpipe

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

If good enough for John Carty (on his "The Cat That Ate the Candle" cd) and Michael O’Raghallaigh, then certainly good enough for me:-)

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Okay Tusong, I’ll take the hook, providing your post was directed towards mine. I have offered only an opinion about a tune, which makes it neither good or bad. It just is. If I found myself sitting in the chair next to John Carty, I’d probably be excited about playing Happy Birthday. It doesn’t mean I’d want to start it up at our next session. Okay, I fell for it…so reel me in, man.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Sorry guys I was wrong about "The Flowers Of Edinburgh". I tried it with the TPSD last night and it got the green light! John Carty and Michael O’s names came up on the LCD, so it seems that even tunes like "The Flowers Of Edinburgh" are pure enough as long as they’ve been recorded by someone famous. It did flash this warning tho’: "TUNE: Flowers Of Edinburgh (Scot.) rec. JC, MOR; WARNING: play as hornpipe!!!"

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

By the way, just a quick note for Jack. Morris is a global thing. I bet you didn’t know that they have their own TPSDs. Their machines reject tunes if they sound too good.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

hahahahahaha

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I guess I should investigate this tune, I don’t even know what it sounds like. Don’t be shocked, until recently I didn’t know what Saint Anne’s Reel souned like either. Does that one show up on your TPSD too Dow?

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

OK, I just checked it out. I’ve heard this tune all right and I always liked it — especially the halfway point of the "A" part. Definitely a hornpipe, but I can’t remember if that’s the way I’ve heard it played. I would tend to play it as a set dance style hornpipe, which some musos around hear have complained that I play like slow reels. But until I started playing them that way — the set dancers said they were un-dance-able. I listen to the set dancers. This tune would get tedious if you played it as a slow and dotted hornpipe IMHO.

Oh yea, what was the original question for this thread? Oh, right so… how does it rate. Well, we never play it at our sesh… I think I’ll introduce it tonight and see what happens.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I asked to borrow the TPSD until next week and they said it was okay, so if anyone has any tunes they want scanning, give me a shout. Good job you mentioned St Anne’s Reel Jack - we forgot to program it. It got a green light but with a warning in caps about bluegrass musicians. I’ve now set it so that it rejects it.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I’ve just been reading the manual and discovered that our TPSD has a special "tune purification" function where you can either play the tune into the mic or type in the abc and it purifies it for you. See the results for "Flowers Of Edinburgh" in the tunes section.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Have you got the new firewire TPSD? I’ve only got the old SCSI version which is unfortunatly incompatable with Jeremy’s data base here.

Posted .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Someone way up the thread hit the nail on the head. As tunes become more familiar they get played faster and faster, and in the case of hornpipey tunes like Flowers Of Edinburgh or Staten Island they just get destroyed, and get a bad name because of that. Also it’s a popular ‘beginner’s tune’ round these parts so people who think they are better than they are hold them in disdain.
As for Morris dancing being a global phenomenon - so is syphilis.
IRMC

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

According to my father, this tune is neither a reel nor a hornpipe but a Schottische.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

So does that mean that "Flowers of Edinburgh" is another version of "Ask My Father"?

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Goldfrog (in your profile)- "Paddy Twanking" - I like it! So I guess "diddly" doesn’t apply any more? :-)

Jim

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Yes, a schottische…..

we need other descriptive words..

like a Coleman donnegeeshe

or a Beniot quebeceeshe

metieeshe (as in louis riel)

or Offspring califoreeshe

punkeeshe

thx all for a great dis-cush-eeshe!

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I would cut back on the old hasheeshe.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

Flowers of Edinburgh is a cross-over tune here in Vermont. Our old timey players who dabble a little in Irish like to play this tune. However, I know someone from Ireland who’s a wonderful player and likes to play this tune as well. So I guess it depends who’s hands it’s in. I personally don’t like to hear it played in an old timey style. But played as an Irish tune, I think it’s a lovely.

Joyce

Posted by .

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

It’s one of those tunes everyone plays, it’s an easy tune, it gets abused by many people who are just learning how to play their instrument. When most people think of "The Flowers…" they think of it being played in a less than dazzling fashion. For a great setting of this tune check out Michael O Raghallaigh’s setting on "The Nervous Man". One of the marks of an nice player is someone who can take tunes that most people write off as stupid or overplayed & turn them into gems.

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

!!milesnagopleen!! haha i love all these ridiculous jokes about pot and the westcoast- as if they go together!! doncha know we ship our product out to places like SE London and Dublin? We are cashcrop oriented,, and wouldnt touch the stuff ourselves…

jmh and madbaloney would agree then that in cda and USA at least the tune is well-used.

you know all these jokes up ahead about tspd etc..there is of course an underlying truth .. there is indeed a constant conflict. I would say the majority of the discussions here are in some way or other analysing the meaning of the word traditional in a contemporary setting

I like your example of ORaghallaigh…

um some people dont like Hayes but i love his interpretations (no he doesnt play flowers,, sorry i am digressing..

anyway, thx again all.. and we all love a good larph..

laugh

i think really what people want mostly is not information but JOKES…. *alas* Alas*

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I certainly would join in if anyone played it. I admint I had to look up the tune (did’nt remember it by the name), and we only play it so often in Oslo that it still has the aura of amusement.

Come here to play it - if you like!

Re: a simple question about Flowers of Edinburgh

I think the flowers of endinburgh is a gr8 tune and it has always been played regularly around the world. If u havn’t heard the flowers of endinburgh where have u bn? who ever wrote it is a genius