Simple polkas

Simple polkas

I’m helping someone (a mature student) who has just passed her Grade 5 violin exam. She can play well technically, but needs sheet music to do so. She has absolutely no experience of playing by ear, and wants to develop her ear / memory facility (she’s been watching videos of jams and sessions).

Right now I’m just playing simple audio phrases of two bars, four notes per bar, and she is then listening to them, and playing them back by ear. It’s a remote / virtual situation, and not face-to-face.

I’m just wondering if anyone can think of very simple polkas, preferably with close intervals and minimal string crossings, as the next step to playing something a bit more musical? For a given tune, I’d need to record a slow version of it, then let her play it back.

Any ideas?

Thanks 🙂

Re: Simple polkas

Mussels in the Corner; She Said She Couldn’t Dance. Both in ‘Tunes’.

Re: Simple polkas

Bill Sullivan’s and Sweeney’s in A major, or John Egan’s [FABA polka] in D - they don’t come any simpler than that one!

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There’s that three-note polka from Fermanagh….

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3 notes - is this an Ulster joke???

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Very little to joke about in Ulster. It’s a tune, sure.

Correction

Very little not to joke about in Ulster. But it’s a tune, sure.

Re: Simple polkas

ok - should we hear it?

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Rattling Bog?
Has your student not had to do "aural tests" as part of getting her Grade V violin? I had to similar for piano (many moons ago!) and that helped with being able sing or play phrases back by ear.

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"Patrick O’Connors No.1" and "Patrick O’Connors No.2".

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Everyone - thanks for all your suggestions. At the moment it’s looking like a toss-up between "The Britches Full of Stitches" and "Bill Sullivan’s", for simplicity and minimal string crossing.

Trish :
//Rattling Bog?// [good and simple also]

//Has your student not had to do "aural tests" as part of getting her Grade V violin? I had to similar for piano (many moons ago!) and that helped with being able sing or play phrases back by ear. //

Yes, but the aural tests are very basic - singing or playing six notes, all within one octave, as played by the examiner. So it tests the ear for pitch reccognition, but does not attempt to develop the memory (plus the fact that random phrases to test the ear, do not often make much musical sense - hence, the request for some very simple tunes, which hopefully *will* make some melodic sense!)

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I like the idea of a 3-note polka. It would force you to be more creative 🙂

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Tom Mhic’s, John Sweeneys, Munster Bank, John Brosnans, Teahans, all here I think.

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I would suggest a slightly different approach. I came to Irish trad mainly from the ballad tradition, and to this day I find the easiest tunes for me to figure out are tunes that are also songs. So I would suggest The Rose Tree or The Spanish Lady as two "singable" polkas which your student could learn first as songs,before trying to figure out the notes on a fiddle. Just a thought…

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>>>"At the moment it’s looking like a toss-up between ‘The Britches Full of Stitches’ and ‘Bill Sullivan’s’, for simplicity and minimal string crossing."

Even better, you can work with both tunes and play them together as a set.

>>>"There’s that three-note polka from Fermanagh…."

I’m very intrigued by this ‘three-note polka’. Does it sound good on banjo?

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‘3 note polka’ - ok Jerry you ‘ve raised folk’s curiosity, time to come up with the goods!!!

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This three note polka is the most bizarre thing I’ve heard of (negating an out-of-tune banjo with a whammy bar and a wawa pedal). Perhaps this tune, like a banjo equipped with the accessories I just mentioned, it is not pleasant to our ears. I think disclosing the sheet music to this tune would be unwise. People might learn it, and I can’t imagine how many times you can play the same three notes.

Re: Simple polkas

I for one would be delighted to see the dots to a three note tune, let alone a polka.
That would beat ‘Mary had a little lamb’ (or ‘Merrily we roll along’), a four note tune.
I agree - let’s see the goods!

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unless this whole 3 note thing was just a wind-up in the first place - Jerry seems to be keeping a low profile now………

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Mash up Polka
Of course you will recognize most of the elements and patterns

Watch out for the soaring F(#of course) at the beginning of the second part which involves a greater number of the highest notes in the tune - tight embouchure required fur flute players

FD ED|FD DE|FD ED|D2 ED|
FD ED| FD DE| FE ED|D2 DE:|

FF ED| DF FD| FF ED| D2 ED|
FF ED| DF FD| F2 ED| D2 DE:|

Hve fun and Hpy New Yer.

Brn

Re: Simple polkas

Brian, I think you need a change of chord at the end of the first line, and a more circuitous route to the resolution. Perhaps

FD ED | FD ED | FD DF | E2 E2 |
FD ED | FD ED | FD DE |D2 D2 :|

FF ED | FF ED | FF DF | E2 E2 |
FF ED | FF ED | FD DE | D2 D2 :|

Re: Simple polkas

"I think disclosing the sheet music to this tune would be unwise." - Monty Campbell, above.

I tend to agree. Try to hear it from a good polka player; if nothing else, it demonstrates that pulse, drive, and danceability may shine through with a minimum of notation.

I heard it from a Fermanagh box player, but it likely originated in Kerry/Sliabh Luachra.

Seek it out !

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Ok Brianmo, I’ll just offer this single clue: in your choice of 3 notes, the B part would start on E.

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Nigel, Jerry,

No objections to the modifications and suggestions - I see the merits. I hope you didn’t spend any more than the 1 minute I spent on the “original”

Now as for two and one note polkas - there are some real possibilities there.

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Been resisting saying this, as it’s not a polka, but could easily be turned into one; 3 notes
Da Doo Ron Ron
(I realised this in my very early days of playing box when someone sang it in a session!)

Re: Simple polkas

Hmmm……..
Da Doo Ron Ron?
…….?
…….?
…….?

Nah!

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>>>"I heard it from a Fermanagh box player, but it likely originated in Kerry/Sliabh Luachra.

Seek it out !"

I tried googling "three-note-polka" and didn’t find anything lol. Can we get any hints as to what key it’s in, or any hints about its name? Do I find the polka, or does the polka find me?

Re: Simple polkas

This three-note-polka has damaged my musical chi, and that’s a first for me (i.e I hate this tune, and that’s the first time I’ve truly hated a tune). Do I get a ceremony for joining the ranks of the session nazis?

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What mode would that be in Jim?

Posted by .

Re: Simple polkas

well, after all that the notorious 3 note polka turned out to be a dumbed down version of ‘Britches’. I suppose i’ll learn it for its novelty value if nothing else!

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"I hope you didn’t spend any more than the 1 minute I spent on the original”

I spent ages on it - 2 minutes at least.

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//What mode would that be in Jim?//

Gobby - Ionian mode, A major.

//This three-note-polka has damaged my musical chi, and that’s a first for me (i.e I hate this tune, and that’s the first time I’ve truly hated a tune). Do I get a ceremony for joining the ranks of the session nazis?//

Monty - I’m so sorry I busted your chi. I apologise from the heart of my bottom 🙂

There’s an awful lot you can do with 3 notes - polyrhythms, etc … but then it wouldn’t really be a polka, I suppose.

There’s even a lot you can do with a single note, but then it would be the rhythm that makes it, not the melody…

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None of the above resemble the tune I mentioned…

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Then why don’t you end the suspense, Jerry, preferably before 2019, please ?

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Re: Simple polkas

Ummm…..
Happy New Year to all. (It’s all done here in Au)
Hey jeff - saw it, played it, love it. What a ripper! Three notes.
Obviously not a Polka, but who cares. Brilliant I feel!

Barn-dance JJ? Well…. I do know for sure, I can play a Polka for a barn-dance, but quite sure that an every day garden variety ‘barn-dance’ tune will not actually fit the bill for a Polka. 🙂

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>>>"To ressurect an old Session.org argument, when is a polka not a polka but a barn dance?"

When it’s too sophisticated to be a polka but too annoying to be a reel.

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Jim, I think you should write the music score for a zombie’s polka movie.
Your piece is exactly how I picture zombies dancing.

Posted by .

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AB, that reminds me of the line, "yeah, but it’s not illegal if we’re both dead!" 🙂

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In relation to the OP, the 3-note polka which I submitted (in G, for no particular reason) can be transposed in to many keys which allow the student player to go at it with no string crossings at all.

Re: Simple polkas

//In relation to the OP, the 3-note polka which I submitted (in G, for no particular reason) can be transposed in to many keys which allow the student player to go at it with no string crossings at all.//

Jerry - nice one! Thanks.