Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Last week I posted a setting of the Bluebell Polka (https://thesession.org/tunes/3352#setting37620) which I had collected some years ago from two old fiddle players in the area (setting no.9). Both have since passed away so I can’t ask them where they got their version.

It’s a setting I hadn’t come across before. Basically they play both the first and second parts in the same key of D major and the third part in G major. Below are the first two bars of each part to explain what I mean.

First part in D maj - |:de|f2f2 dcdB|A2A2 F2D2
Second part also in D - |:A2A2 FAdf|a2a2 f3g
Last part in G maj - |:c|B2B2 Bcd2|B2B2 Bcd2

I’ve only heard the tune played with the first and third parts in G major and the second part in D major, i.e.

First part G maj - |:ga|b2b2 gfge|d2d2 B2G2
Second part D maj - |:A2A2 FAdf|a2a2 f3g
Third part G maj - |:c|B2B2 Bcd2|B2B2 Bcd2

My question is whether anyone else has ever heard the tune played with the first two parts in D major and the third part in G major?

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Never heard this version before. Interesting. Easier for me to play on a D/G box. Maybe I will try it out next time I get to a session…whenever that will be……

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Perhaps the two old blokes just learnt it ‘wrong’!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

There’s no such thing as "wrong" in trad music 🙂

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

So it would be OK for me to accompany The Bluebell Polka with a Bb7 chord throughout?
Er,…. I think not.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Having a B/C box, I have always played it in the 3 keys as per Jimmy Shand, i.e. G, D and C. But when I go down to England among the D/G box players, it kinda throws me when they pretty well all play it in G, D and G!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Indeed! Wrong can’t happen in Trad but ‘wrong’ can.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

It’s not right or wrong, its just a guy playing a tune how his brain tells him how to play it. Get over it.

Posted .

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

So persons at sessions that play in the style of a ‘session wrecker’ (e.g. Donald K’s Bb seventh utiliser) are not playing anything wrong. They are just playing a ‘different setting’ or ‘how his brain tells him how to play it’ and any criticism or ridicule from the Trad Music Community is unfounded and unjust.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

The Bluebell polka, I never heard it played at a session.

Posted .

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Nothing is true and everything is permitted? Explain your casual approach…

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Johnny Doherty (not Docerty) played a great setting of Drowsie Maggie. But that is all it was.

Posted .

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

gooseinthenettles: no session at the Blythe Hill Tavern, if ‘Winston Smith’ is present, is complete if he doesn’t ‘do’ his Bluebell Polka on his box!!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

It gets done at our sessions too (in all 3 keys.)

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Ha-ha! Some nice accordion playing there: not sure about the rest!
Should have said, we play it for dancing too in one of our bands.

And if that wasn’t enough, the late great Paddy Roberts set words to it too: ready for next month….

BLUEBELL POLKA F Stanley/Paddy Roberts
G
Pickin’ a bluebell in the merry month of May,
And suddenly I saw him strolling on his way,
Pickin’ a bluebell just the same as I was too,
I thought I could be happy with a boy like you.
G
And as he turned and smiled at me my heart stood still,
I never knew a smile could give me such a thrill.
He was a handsome laddie and he looked so good,
I promised that I’d meet him in the bluebell wood.
D
Half past seven by the old oak tree,
I was waiting anticipating
What would happen to a girl like me
When he came along?
G
Pickin’ a bluebell in the merry month of May,
And suddenly I saw him strolling on his way,
Pickin’ a bluebell just the same as I was too,
I thought I could be happy with a boy like you.
C
He looked wonderful, oh so wonderful,
How was I to see he would make a fool of me?
Two dark flashing eyes looked like paradise;
My heart flickered like a flame.
C
What was I to do? Met my Waterloo.
There I stood for him, waiting in the wood for him;
I’m confessing, I learned my lesson
And now I’ll never be the same.
G
Pickin’ a Bluebell in the merry month of May
Is something I’ll remember when I’m old and grey,
And if I live to ninety-two I know darn well,
I never want to see another Scots bluebell.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Not a hiphop fan Trish?!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Just an aging hippy, YH!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Thanks everyone for the comments above. When I originally posed the question I hadn’t anticipated a version featuring 50 Cent! Thanks Yhaal House.

So it would appear that playing the first two parts in the same key is a setting peculiar to these Monaghan fiddle players.

For what it’s worth I prefer their version. Jumping around keys from G to D and then to either G or C seems to me to be a bit contrived. Admittedly it’s great fun to play and it’s how the tune was first collected / composed. That said it doesn’t seem to flow naturally as a tune. I now play setting #9 with Eddie Duffy’s barndance (aka Jimmy Duffy’s), a Fermanagh tune I learned from piano accordion player Francis Mc Mahon. To my ear they work well as a set.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

We play it before "I have a Bonnet dressed in Blue" which is another 3-key tune: in this case, D, A and G sections.

And we have several other tunes which follow this sort of pattern, especially among the Scottish two-steps: they are complete in themselves when played for dancing, and don’t usually require another tune to make up a set, though of course, you can do what you like in a session to keep a set going longer than you might for a dance.
Such tunes as: Shetland Two-Step (Ronnie Cooper’s)
Looking for a Partner
Andy Ross
Edwin Flaws of Wyre
The Six-Twenty Two-Step
All of these in 3 keys! And I don’t find it contrived, but maybe just because I’m used to it!

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

Thanks Kenny,
You really couldn’t have a thread about The Bluebell Polka without including Jimmy Shand: top of The Hit Parade (as it was then) in 1950-something!
And love Richard Thompson’s song too.

Re: Is this version of the Bluebell Polka unique?

By the way, the Jimmy Shand version was George Martin’s first hit some ten years before he started producing the Beatles.