One off hits by unknown tune writers
Any suggestions on this good sunny morning in Glasgow!
Any suggestions on this good sunny morning in Glasgow!
If they have had a hit, they are no longer unknown.
Are you looking for good or respected tunes by unknown composers? Slightly different.
Not sure what this means? Even respected composers like Dave Richardson, Liz Carroll or Mike McGoldrick are ‘unknown’ outside the bubble of trad music.
Sandy Broon’s by Gavin Marwick, was a popular tune for a while and kind of fell of the radar. Miss it no longer coming up at sessions very often. He’s definitely not an unknown tune writer though, maybe he was at the time it was written.
Well, Gavin has also written other popular tunes too.
It all depends by what we mean as "known", "unknown", and "hits"!
As far as the public at large is concerned, the great majority of our kind of music and its compsers are unknown.
However, to enter into the spirit of things, here’s an example of a popular session tune written by a lesser known composer.
Malcolm, of course, is well enough known to other musicians in the NE of Scotland but this tune has travelled much further.
The Road to Durham might fit here, although the composers are not exactly unknown— just not known as composers of tunes other than this one (but feel free to correct me on this point). It’s a great little jig by the way.
Thanks for posting Johnny Jay! What a gem of a jig.
I was thinking of a young girl in Orkney - not known for tune writing in isolated Orkney (N. Isles of Scotland) - member of Hadhirgaan, Doug. Montgomery’s floating school band. She wrote the brill. "Splodges Waltz" which I want to write down from Hadhirgaan amateur cd! Nobody’s ever heard of it and as far as I know she’s not written many tunes - but she’d only be about 15|
Diane Joyce is the writer of "Splodges Waltz" and Hadhirgaan play it well (2003 recording, not avail. to the public). Thanks for a good tune, JohnnyJay.
Thanks to all- rather an ill-thought-out discussion theme. Will have a listen to "Splodges" waltz, written by Diane in her teens - she’ll now be about 30, married with children? Women often give up music, all things considered. Maybe she left Orkney…….
Well, I think of the guy who wrote "Dusty Windowsills", or that other chap who penned "Bang Your Frog On the Sofa."
I just trawled through all the comments on ‘Dusty Windowsills’ apparently composed by tin whistle player Johnny Harling , who was active in the Chicago Irish music scene some 20 years ago [and maybe still is]
and there was me thinking it was trad arr. , public domain, etc. I wonder how many other tunes, assumed to be trad that we play regularly have a known and maybe living composer?
Perhaps not one off hits, and perhaps not an unknown tune writer, but I came to think of Martin Wynne who has written five known tunes (a rather low number, at least.) (And I only knew about four of them until a while ago.)
"that other chap who penned "Bang Your Frog On the Sofa." "
That tune was composed by one of our more legendary members here, the one and only Will Harmon. He was a very prolific and important contributor during the early days along with Zina Lee who now only visits occasionally.
Will left around the same time as Llig but I don’t think there was a connection and I can’t recall the reason for his departure.
Anyway, this is the tune.
Of course, no one is truly "unknown" to everybody — they’re just unfamiliar to you or me. They could be wildly famous to another group of people. And just because you only know of one really well-known tune by the person doesn’t mean they don’t have shedloads of other tunes that you just haven’t heard about. But in the spirit of the thread, I’m thinking that for every Paddy Fahy, Finbarr Dwyer, Sean Ryan, Ed Reavy, Liz Carroll, Charlie Lennon, or Cuz Teahan, there’s a James McMahon with his megahit (can one use "megahit" in the context of ITM? Let’s try!) reel "The Banshee". Or Joanie Madden’s "The Cat’s Meow" which is really unfair to Joanie since I know she’s written tons more tunes but that one is really a runaway. I don’t know of any other Dave Richardson compositions that have become session standards other than "Calliope House." Or Davey Arthur’s overexposed "Tam Linn."
Dave Richardson’s ‘McArthur Rd’ - probably better known in Scotland and NE England than most other places, shame as its a grand tune. I knew The Banshee was sometimes called McMahon’s Reel but didnt realize there was an actual James McMahon. This forum is great for learning stuff you didnt know before.
I didn’t know Dave Richardson wrote MacArthur Road!
I posted this, 14 years ago, by concertina player Ciaran O’Grady. I found it recorded for the first time a couple of months back :
I’m not aware of any other compositions by Ciaran, but hope they exist somewhere.
Harry Bradley did a bit of research into James MacMahon’s tunes and came up with a few more :
There were at least two more, both of which are here somewhere, but the titles escape me for the moment.
Ian Burns - Spootiskerry. Don’t think I’ve ever heard any of his other tunes played anywhere (but I’ve led a sheltered life).
A perceptive comment by Joe Fidkid.
DonaldK : Ah memories of playing Spootiskerry at Jenny Wrigley’s fiddle class. It was quite popular.
My tune "French Cheese" was appreciated by Trish Santer, said she could almost smell the cheese. Little interest has been shown in it, - like my other tunes, it doesn’t conform to Irish dance tune rules. That shouldn’t mean rejection as a tune posted here - though it often does. I do not like rigid classification - a rather MALE trait. In transcribing the tune, I’ve failed to achieve the rhythm as I play it, lack of skill on my part. I’m proud of "French Cheese" specially the jazzy part at the end.
PS French Cheese was written on short sea crossing, John O’Groats to Burwick - last century.
FRENCH CHEESE - Don’t select x:1 as I left out a bar and it is rubbish. Could Jeremy possibly delete x:1? Wish he would.
"I do not like rigid classification - a rather MALE trait."
I’m not particularly taken with rigid classification, especially if it’s arbitrary (though, as an ex-mathematician, I’m keen on exactitude).
Being honest, rejection of tunes here often has nothing to do with with a lack of conformity to "Irish dance tune rules" and far more to do with an inability to accurately transcribe or present one’s musical ideas in a way that makes musical sense.
Susan K, you can message Jeremy to do delete settings. I’ve done that successfully before.
Donald, your comment on "Ox Eye Daisy" tune that I submitted v recently does rather prove my point. (Sorry if I sound bigoted, I’m certainly not a rabid feminist). But thanks, I’ve messaged Jeremy re French Cheese. Hope x:1 disappears asap.
It’s got nothing to do with whether I am male or not.
I just don’t understand why anyone would post a transcription of a tune that they suspected to be incorrect.
Sorry Donald - I’m off to my lonely bed.
"I’m not aware of any other compositions by Ciaran, but hope they exist somewhere."
Ever heard of of E to E Reel?
It was recorded on the first album by Sin É, first set I believe. (I later heard it in a session in Miltown Malbay in 2001.) They play another of Ciarán’s tunes before - The Rude Ring Reel, not posted here (I once transcribed the whole album note for note, and play these two reels regularly.)
Hi jeff - thanks, I am aware of both of those tunes, recorded on a DVD I had called "Planxty O’Rourke". I hadn’t know they were Ciaran’s tunes - the acknowledgement of composers on that recording was disgraceful, as is quite common, of course. Cheers.
I’ve written a few, but am definitely in the "unknown" bracket. Have been asked for copies of a couple of them, but that doesn’t really make them hits!
(Posted without refreshing the thread - lots of newer posts suddenly appeared!)
@Susan K - re "French Cheese" - did you submit it here as a tune? It doesn’t appear to be in the tunes database.
I’m interested in seeing it.
Every tune, or it’s precursors would have had to be ‘composed’ at some point in time. I suppose that some composers in this genre would actually appreciate their compositions being quietly absorbed into the tradition.
Camembert? Brie? Rocquefort?
I believe "French Cheese" has now been deleted at the request of the composer.
This clip was posted just recently, but it seems fitting to post it again.
It’s a great tune and I don’t know of any other tunes composed by Bobby Gardiner (although, giant of traditional music that he is, there might well be tunes of his out there that have become so much a part of the fabric of traditional repertoire that nobody asks who composed them).
Many thanks, AB. I’m very glad to see that Ciaran O’Grady has composed more tunes than I was aware of.
"I suppose that some composers in this genre would actually appreciate their compositions being quietly absorbed into the tradition."
I think it would be the ultimate accolade for many tune composers for their compositions to be played in the wider traditional music community without anyone knowing, or thinking to ask, who composed them.
"the wider traditional music community " with the exception of recordings and certain public performances I would hope.
Then, I’d like to think players would make it their business to find out so that composers can be awarded what is due.
Sessions are a different matter, of course.
Just like a discussion here to stray off into discussion about the semantics of words like "hits" and "unknown" 😏
I was actually going to mention Bang Your Frog On The Sofa, and Will Harmon. He used to be very "known" around these parts (and he still reads many of the discussions here. He just left the board after some disagreements with a few people, who shall remain nameless). People have won the fleadh playing Bang Your Frog, and it has been recorded several times. Here’s one, from a couple of the guys that are now in Ímar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjcKiLRCtOw, and another version from Girsa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncI93SbbvNk
Will has written some great tunes. I don’t know who to compare him to - maybe Paddy O’Brien (although, it’s hard to compare anyone to Paddy!). His tunes are often surprising, but are always well put together. I have recorded a few of his tunes, including https://thesession.org/tunes/7159, https://thesession.org/tunes/11546, and https://thesession.org/tunes/18616
Camembert, Christy Taylor.
I actually prefer Tome de Chevre but most people haven’t heard of it, or Manchego but its the wrong side of the Pyrenees
You could try the one in my profile. It’s not a hit, but you could get in on the ground floor.
any chance of a soundbyte Elf? I am almost as bad at reading ABC as I am transcribing it!
Hi Christy, I sent you a message with a link.
Didn’t Dave Swarbrick write a few? Or you could play any handful of ‘traditional’ tunes like Swarb did and they would sound like he wrote them. 😀
Cathy’s March comes to mind…
There must be others. His discography is larger than my shelf. "Crazy Man Michael," although it’s more of a ballad. Stuff worth looking into.
A lot of contemporary writers compose "in traditional style" and therefore may get their tunes wrongly described as being "Traditional" - a compliment to the composer that people want to play them, but also a shame for any royalties they should be getting if people are playing them in live gigs or even recording them as "traditional" without having done their homework on source. Not so difficult these days with Google and the internet. (As Johnny Jay also said.)
I have had a few surprises over the years in encountering tunes that I would have thought might be a couple of centuries old, but were in fact written in the last 30 years.
On the other hand there are others that ARE a couple of centuries old, but still sound up-to-the-minute and are well-liked/often played.
Perhaps these? Trip to Pakistan, by an Edinburgh flute player whose name escapes me.
Alabama Rick’s by Mike Dugger,
Others by Tony Sulluvan… Roaring Barmaid… or Vincent Broderick? Though Sully and Broderick aren’t really unknowns.
"Trip To Pakistan" is Niall Kenny’s "greatest hit", no doubt, but he’s written a few more tunes than that.
"Sully" has composed dozens of tunes, Vincent Broderick has 2 whole books of his compositions published, so if you think these musicians come under the either the title "one-off hits" or "unknown tune writers", I think you need to do more research.
We often play Niall Kenny’s "Shore Bar" along with "Trip to Pakistan".