AB reversed to BA

AB reversed to BA

Exhibit 1: Traditional tune known by such titles as The Growling Old Man and Woman, The Old Man and the Old Woman, etc.

Exhibit 2: Section four of a selection "jigs" fiddled by Robin Williamson on the ISB album "Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air", with the title given as "Grumbling Old Men".

The melodies of those two tunes seem to me to be clearly genetically related (near identical twins), with one odd little twist, which, being a beginner, it took me yonks to figger out: Williamson has reversed the A and B sections.

My question for the experts is this - did he do it:

A) because he is dyslexic;
B) because by then he had gone clear;
C) because this is sometimes done in ITM, either out of puckish mischievousness or sheer inspiration?

A curiosity, at best, but a curious one nonetheless.

Caution: this may be just another ploy to test the thread-hijacking talents of the regulars.

Cheers all

Re: AB reversed to BA

(dons balaclava mask & brandishes side arm…)
The same thing seems to happen with one of my favourites, Dick Gossip’s Reel. I’ve always felt is sounds ‘right’ if you play the traditional B part first - apparently I’m not alone, but there aren’t that many of us. Don’t know why, it just sounds right to me that way. I’ve ended up compromising by tacking it on to the end of St Anne’s Reel and playing the A part twice (if you see what I mean; it ends on the A part that way as though I’d started it on the B
instead of just cheating).

Eno

Re: AB reversed to BA

Robin Williamson has always been an avid experimenter with tunes, instruments, playing genres of music on "the wrong" instruments, using the sitar as a means for greater creativity and inspiration, etc etc. You got off lightly by discovering he just reversed AB to BA in the tunes you describe. 🙂

I’m sure he did it deliberately because he thought it sounded better.

Jim

Re: AB reversed to BA

I like to reverse some parts…usually ‘cos I remember the second part more easily. Sometimes it’s done for you..as in Mary Willie’s v The Gleantean (spelling rubbish) but you get the drift. Also Dennis Murphy’s slide. And I end on the B part anyway. Is that cheating? I don’t think so…it’s partly how the music keeps reinventing itself and moving on.

SUE

Re: AB reversed to BA

..oh…and I stuck to the topic and didn’t hijack … do I win £10?

Jim

Re: AB reversed to BA

It’s C. Usually when it works better within a set to start with one of the other parts other than an A.

Re: AB reversed to BA

Donald of the Sun / Donald na Greine is another one I’ve often seen reversed around.

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Re: AB reversed to BA

Yeah, Caliope House is the one that I often get questions about. Just because the A part starts a bit higher like B parts often do some people seem to think that the parts are in reverse order. I think it just adds to the charm of the tune (one of my favorites if you haven’t gathered). Like bribanjo said, no harm in a little variety.

Re: AB reversed to BA

On "Steam", John Williams plays a lovely set of the Bridal/Handsome Young Maidens/Donegal Lancers. He starts The Lancers on the B, because it just works better in the set.

Re: AB reversed to BA

Yeah, "Donald of the Sun"! In Scotland, it’s more common to play what I posted on this site, but Irish pipers usually reverse the order. Cape Breton jig "Ingonish" is a bit unique tune. It’s almost idencal to "Tenpenny Bit," but it was transposed into another key and the B part comes first. Martin Hayes’s "Lark’s March" is a version of "Butcher’s March" with two parts reversed.

Re: AB reversed to BA

Also, Joe Burke plays Master Crowley’s/Jug of Punch, starting Jug of Punch with the B part.

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Re: AB reversed to BA

Oh, I forgot to mention some Shetland tunes start with the B part (though it’s actually played as the A part). Think about "Da Sleep Soon Ida Moarnin’" and "Da New Rigged Ship." And I suspect "Rakes of Kildare" is the Irish version of "Da Full Rigged Ship" with the original A part moved to the second half.

Re: AB reversed to BA

Okay, so this looks much more pervasive than I suspected. And perhaps R Williamson is not so bold, daring and original after all, although he does remain one of my favourite fiddlers (fairly proficient on the bowed gimbri as well, although I believe it was Heron who usually played the sitar). I just hope that our technologically advanced colleague sessioneers have their TPSDs adjusted to allow for this sort of license. So many false positives (negatives?) might scorch their circuits.

Where will all this lead? Will adventurous sessioneers start taking, say, A from Brian O’Lynn and sticking it onto B from Hag with the money? Or just playing all As and no Bs in a set? Uh oh. Could get dicey - anarchy in the ITM.

Cool

Re: AB reversed to BA

Well, since session playing is all about playing with others, I wouldn’t *surprise* anyone with starting a tune out bassackwards, because then you just look idiotic. And I shouldn’t try it out "just because" — it’s usually done when it sounds better in the set.

Re: AB reversed to BA

If you are performing or recording there’s no limit to what you can do (unlike in Sessions). For example try finishing a tune by substituting the last couple of bars of the B section, with the last couple of bars of the next tune’s B section - assuming they are in the same key and similar sounding. It can make for a nice seamless transition but - Just don’t try it in a session!

Re: AB reversed to BA

I din’t know Robin Williamson was a fiddler, too! A few years ago he was giving harp concerts and doing a sort of bardic thing, interweaving jokes and stories with tunes. I really enjoyed the performance and have one of his Cd’s of him reciting Irish myths with harp music as background for the story.

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Re: AB reversed to BA

Points taken.

As a beginner, I am still years away from my first session, and am busily scarfing down all the neat stuff about the culture of the genre and the tunes themselves, but it is also interesting to see, albeit from a distance, some of the culture of sessions, too. Will bear it all mind (if I have any mind left by then).

Andee, if you liked R Williamson’s bardic thing, you might like to check out some of ISB’s prodigious output. Highly recommended are Wee Tam & The Big Huge, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter and 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion. Not exactly ITM, "Celtic" or anything precisely pigeonholeable, but rather quite the opposite.

Re: AB reversed to BA

One possible explanation of part reversal, especially with tunes that went from Scotland to Ireland and else ware, is the Scottish dancing practice of playing the B music as an intro.
Mrs McLeod of Raasy springs to mind the Irish version being reversed.
This reminds me of what a player once said about the tune, he said "She was naked before she came to Ireland" to which I replied "Maybe, but what a body".

PP

Re: AB reversed to BA

Gerry
As a beginner you’re only as far from your first session as it takes to learn your first tune.

Dave

Re: AB reversed to BA

gerry, I will check out some of that stuff you mentioned at some point, thanks!

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Re: AB reversed to BA

I suppose you’re right, Dave, but that in itself could take me a few years. Thanks for the encouragement, anyway.

No, seriously, my teacher has clamped down on my erratic attempts at playing tunes (a dozen or so, so far - favourites at present are Banish misfortune and Foxhunter’s) at something approaching speed and has rather imposingly suggested that I stick to slow airs until I get a really good handle on tone and pitch, not to mention some firm control of the bow. No doubt good advice, and he should know, but from what I gather, airs, especially of the slow variety, are not popular at sessions, so it may be a while yet.

Re: AB reversed to BA

Two tunes which immediately come to mind are Anderson’s Reel and the John Walsh Polka. This can have hilarious results at a session where half the musicians know the tune one way while the rest play it the other way. I’ve been at a session where we played John Walsh’s for nearly 15 minutes before the penny dropped and everyone decided "this can’t go on for ever!".

Re: AB reversed to BA

Andee, Robin Williamson wasn’t much good at the fiddle when he played with the Incredible String Band, c.1965 - 74. Sometimes it shows
- though if anything it adds to the charm of the hoe-down Scheaffer’s Jig on their first album. He was altogether better on the tin whistle and as a guitarist.