Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

I’ve been noticing that I’m really drawn to tunes that switch from minor to their parallel major or from Dorian to mixolydian. A few examples:
-Poll Ha’penny
-King George IV/Old King’s Reel/King’s Reel
-Growling Old Man & Woman

What others can you come up with?

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

The Teetotaller Reel
Reel Eugene
The Peat Fire Flame
Johnny Cope
Shoe the Donkey Polka
Din Tarrant’s Polka https://thesession.org/tunes/1825
The White Petticoat
Time for Bed *

* = That’s not a tune, it’s a statement. Good luck, Lil’ Liza Jane.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Fred’s Favourite
New Mown Meadows
Cup of Tea

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Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Sometimes it’s in how you play the tune, where you choose to play C natural or sharp.

So this reel, The Cashmere Shawl/The Hut In The Bog, if you go to the 2nd version, the way I heard it and learned it all the C’s in the first part are natural, all the C’s in the second part are sharp (except for the ending of the 2nd part where it turns around back to the first part).

https://thesession.org/tunes/4305

making for a very nice minor/Major shift between the parts.

Then there’s Chief O Neil’s Favourite (hornpipe) where F sharp becomes F natural at the beginning of the second part implying a shift from D Major to D minor.

Tunes like this, where the shift is due to accidentals, is a somewhat different beast than tunes that stay in the same scale but the perceived tonal centre shifts to the relative minor.

A large number of tunes have an E minor to G Major shift, many have an A minor to C Major shift, and so forth.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Here’s Chief O Neil’s Favourite, note the first line of the second part has F natural and having a D minor feel.

https://thesession.org/tunes/13

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Balls to Hall
Le 24 Juin
Several Quebec reels go from Bmin to Dmaj

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

One way to hear The Connaughtman’s Rambles is Dmaj in the first part and Bm in the second. But you can back with Dmaj all the way through if you want. Or switch back and forth. I don’t think either way is wrong.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

A favourite of mine that switches from Am (Dorian) to A major is the Shetland reel the New-Rigged Ship (aka the Full-Rigged Ship): https://thesession.org/tunes/880.
First part is definitely Am, but the second part has C sharps (so I would accompany it with A major and E major chords), then the third part definitely goes back to Am.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

@Borderer: I would respectfully disagree on one point. The first part of the New Rigged Ship is not definitely Am - it has no 3rd (C or C#) in it so it could be either Mixolydian (‘major’) or Dorian (‘minor’). I have heard accompanists treat it as major to good effect. As you say, the 2nd part is definitely ‘major’ (could be regarded as either Mixolydian or Ionian mode, as there is no G or G# present) and the 3rd part is definitely ‘minor’ (actually the Dorian mode, as it contains a B-natural).

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

I disagree too ! But it’s more complex than what notes are not in the tune. For example the first part could be D major . …. it’s as much about what our ears hear and expect .
To back the first part with A major or mix just sounds wrong to me ….
IMO the tension between the Am first part to A maj and then minor again is fundamental to the piece of music .
As has been suggested the first part could in theory be D major…. it ends on a D ….
I assume that there are aspects of the tune unwritten , for example it could have a set of A drones ….
Does it sound right is the question … and that depends on the ear and how it is educated

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Leddy from Cavan

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Maire Breathnach

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

The Islay Ranters Reel. A sneaky lift to A major at the end. Brilliant tune.
https://thesession.org/tunes/1688

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Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Kitchen Girl

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

The Bunch of Green Rushes
The Glorious Return to Milltown

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Gravel Walks - mostly A dorian but with that C major section in the middle, and Kid on the Mountain that alternates between E dor and G major - loads of others but havent got time just now!

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

@creadur
Any disagreement is fine with me as long as it’s respectful. I agree that the lack of a third in the first part of the New-Rigged Ship means the mode is difficult to pin down. When I said Am, I meant that the accompaniment that sounds best to me in the first part is :Am Am G D: Yes, the part ends on a D note, but the high As in the first two bars seem to point to Am rather than D as tonality. I think that a switch in accompaniment over the three parts between Am, A maj and back to Am makes this a very interesting tune.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

About the gap-scale tunes, for some reason when tunes lack the 3rd most people hear them being non-Major and usually accompanists play minor chords or open 5th chords.

Of course technically the tonic chord isn’t Major or minor.

What’s interesting to me is how often such tunes are placed on a tonic which usually is used for minor tunes- say E, though they could just as easily be played with G as the tonic (where we expect to hear a Major feel).

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Hmm….
Would a couple of garden variety choons like - ‘Tripping Up The Stairs’ and ‘Out On The Ocean’ fit into this category?

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

One other tune that hasn’t been mentioned in the minor/major shift category is Knocknagow. One of my favorite tunes if you want to befuddle a guitar backer, and a hat tip to a post here years ago by Dr. Silver Spear for mentioning it in that context. 🙂

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Bloody heck!
I just had a look at Knocknagow.
I reckon I could have a crack at that.
>
>
Around the year 2025!!
>

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Thank you for all your wonderful comments! I was originally thinking in the realm of A major to A minor (parallel minor), where your accidentals change during the tune, but C major to A minor (relative minor) is interesting too.

Another one I found that switches modes, at least in my version, is Banish Misfortune, starting off in D Dorian but sometimes switching to D Major. Another argument you could make for this jig is that the C# functions as it would in D melodic minor, using C natural for most of the melody, but using C# during and directly after a cadence to D major.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

"Another one I found that switches modes, at least in my version, is Banish Misfortune, starting off in D Dorian but sometimes switching to D Major."

Hmm… I’ve never played an F natural in that tune. Maybe it’s worth a try.

Knocknagow, Branohm #2, Chief O’Neill’s Favourite, Bunch of Green Rushes are fine examples of tunes that move from a minorish mode to a majorish one (often Mix). Tunes that go to the relative minor or major are quite common.

Many tunes attributed to Paddy Fahy has minor and major thirds and sevenths, often in the same tune.
Kevin Burke’s version of the Paddy Fahy’s jig in G has a little of everything.
His version of the Girl Who Broke My Heart has a very G-minorish A-part, but a standard B-part in Gmix.
House of Hamill (by Ed Reavy) is in Edor, but has an interesting third part with a G# (and a high g natural).

The three part version of Tico Tico (admittedly not an Irish tune, but recorded by Dermot Byrne): Bm/D/B
My instinct says that we are more likely to find tunes which blend Am/Ador/Amix/A than any other combination of modes with the same root.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Oh, sorry Jeff, it was mixolydian, not Dorian. I get those two mixed up all the time.

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Some of my favorites-
Reel Beatrice
Reel Eugene
Le 24 Juin

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Arthur Darley’s

Re: Tunes that switch from minor to major feel or vice versa

Turning of the Tide (aka Branohm, or Maire Beathnacht’s) has a super-cool structure: the A part is in descending A dorian, and the B part is in rising A mix. Awesome.