YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Greetings to all,

I recently created a YouTube Playlist containing every video (music video or proper video) I could encounter where a jaw harp is performing in Folk "celtic" (let me use this unprecise term) music. I am trying to keep it updated for now there’s nearly 200 videos! Here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEeBHZlVNxrgC7bfJ3AqokGmsvnOfiCL3

So… there’s mainly Irish and Scottish material, but also some Northumbrian, Breton, Welsh and British. There’s also some Irish and Scottish music by players from abroad. And there’s also some American and Canadian music, but I selected only the tracks that were clearly of Irish/Scottish origin.
I didn’t put Blues, New Age, Pagan, Viking folk & co.
You can say that it’s kinda of a mess, but I could argue that the playlist has not scientific purposes but strictly personal and aesthetical ones. ‘:D
There’s different "qualities" and different type of videos.
So there’s mainly single tracks from albums but there’s also live performances, a pair of full albums, a documentary, and two episodes of an old TV series ("The Vital Spark") that has the jaw harp in the intro music.
It’s mainly revival players, but there are also some pretty "ancient" recordings of traditional players (e.g. the famous Flanagan Brothers or Willie Kemp/Curly McKay) and Ethnomusicological field recordings (e.g. Scottish player Angus Lawrie or Northumbrian player Bob Clark).
The majority are traditional dance tunes but there’s also some folk singer song accompaniment.
Also the quality of the playing is variable. Sometimes the jaw harp is used as a "special effect", sometimes you can hear only a distant "boing" sound in the background, sometimes it’s used rhythmically, but a lot of times you will hear a very clear melodic and precise playing, there’s some solo masterpieces (e.g. one of the best revival jaw harp players, John Wright).

Obviously, you’ll have to keep in mind that not everything is on Youtube… this is what I found.
A lot of albums are not available there, some are only on Spotify, some field recordings are available on Online Folk Music Archives (e.g. on Tobar an Dualchais you will find some excellent Scottish jaw harp recordings and information, something is on ITMA, and something on the British Library Sound Archive), some were just never put online.

So… after all this complicated chit chat… My objective is just to spread awareness on this sometimes belittled traditional musical instrument 🙂
Perhaps some future players can use the playlist to inspire him/herself and to learn the patterns of playing.

Have a good listen on the playlist and let me know if you find on Youtube other videos that can be put there.

Enjoy <3
(and happy Easter btw)

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

In summer 1967 on holiday in Paris with some friends, we went looking for a folk club - apparently a rarity there, though prolific in the UK by that time. We located an event at the American Centre, Bvd. Raspail, where we heard a chap with a jaw harp playing recognisable tunes at a volume that filled the large room. Can’t remember the name, but he was a Brit - from Norfolk or Lincolnshire, I believe. Remarkable. It can be done!

BTW, at the same event, a young musician was introduced as being new to the club and just up from the country with a harp: Alain Stivell.

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Nice list. I was going to suggest Allan Macdonald as a wonderful advocate and knowing historian of the Jaw harp in Scottish folk but you have beaten me to it. I’ll look forward to spending some of the 48 hours some magic book of nonsense has granted us listening to a bit of it.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

The Topic LP, ‘The Lark in the Clear Air – Irish Music on Small Instruments’ https://thesession.org/recordings/1743 features John Wright from Leicestershire (and one track together with his two brothers, also on Jaw Harps). Could that be him?

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thanks, CMO. I’m pretty sure that was the chap I mentioned. I subsequently (‘70’s) came across that LP and recognised the name, but never owned it. And Leicestershire sounds a bit like Lincolnshire. Old men forget, and all shall be forgot … .

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Yes CMO and Bazza, that was exactly that John Wright. He was a master on his instrument!
In my Youtube playlist you encounter him in a lot of videos! He did "The Lark in the clear air", and two wonderful solo albums: "La Guimbarde" and "Unaccompanied". He learned directly from Irish and Scottish traditional players.
He died in 2013… but his relatives, Michael, David and Lucy, who learned from him, continue the practice.
Michael published in 2015 a milestone book about the production and use of the jaw harp: "The jews-harp in Britain and Ireland" (published by SOAS).

Oh yes I totally agree Steve T, Allan Macdonald really is one of the best in Scotland!
Alas, some of the albums in which he appears with the jaw harp aren’t available on Youtube or online.

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Bazza: "… Leicestershire sounds a bit like Lincolnshire."

Leicestershire also borders onto Lincolnshire (which, in turn, borders onto Norfolk) – so you can be forgiven.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thanks CMO. I thought it was something like that but, being in the deep south, my knowledge of the layout of the country north of Barnet is a bit hazy.

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Hi Alex

Wow! What a list you have compiled, that’s a great effort and brought back many memories.
One of the tracks was of Liam Ó Maonlaí singing and being accompanied on Jaw Harp.
Here’s one for your list of him doing same for Connor Byrne

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1d_ebkl5MCk


Keep safe and well and Happy Easter to you too!

All the best
Brian x

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thanks for this. Most entertaining. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed the jaw harp outside of Old
time and some Quebecois. Any chance I can get the tabs for some of these tunes?






Kidding of course.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Brian x, thank you SO much for reporting that video to me!!
It’s going immediately on the list. Really appreciated.

Thanks everyone for the appreciacion!
I agree with you, Ross. The very first impression you get in general is exactly that.
But recently, also because of my studies, I started to uncover all this (in some part also thanks to The Session’s old discussions and recordings) and I thought that it had to be put together in some way…

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jew’s Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thanks, Alez.

My father played a bit of jaw-harp. I tried a few times over the years, but it always felt like some manner of dental intervention, so I never got far with it …….

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

To "complete" the Youtube Playlist I shall put here all the links to the jaw harp recordings in Online Archives & such:

- Tobar an Dualchais
This is a wonderful website… if you search in Advanced Search "jew’s harp" in "English Summary" you will have not only the music recordings but also the interviews that mention the instrument.
Here are the links to the single music recordings, divided by player

+ Donald Ewen MacDonald
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/18189 (Glendaruel Highlanders/Fhir a dh’Ith am Bonnach Mòr/Sleepy Maggie)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/61731 (Mrs MacLeod of Raasay/The High Road to Linton/Jock Wilson’s Ball/Ruidhle Mo Nighean Donn/Sleepy Maggie)
+ Katherine Dix
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36495 (Cailleach Dhubh na Geòla Bhioraich)
+ Peter MacDougall
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/76238 (Cock of the North/Dròbhair a’ Phoca Mhineadh/The White Cockade/A Man’s a Man for Aa That)
+ Lindsay Porteous
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/88363 (Unknown/The Muckin o Geordie’s Byre)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/94410 (The Cameron Highlanders/The Atholl Highlanders)
+ Alan J. Bruford
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/93687 (The Braes o Mar)
+ Charles MacFarlane
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/100150 (Mrs MacLeod of Raasay)
+ Donald Allan MacQueen
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/107508 (Dhiùlt am Bodach Fodar Dhomh/Chuirinn air a’ Phìob e/Mrs MacLeod of Raasay)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/108566 (Dà phort air an truimb)
+ Angus Lawrie
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/6275 (The Lochaber Gathering/Tulloch Gorm/The Wee man from Glengarry)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/6280 (Renfrewshire Militia/Maggie Cameron/The Reel of Tulloch/Over the Isles to America)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/6288 (Highland Lassie Going to the Fair/Locheil’s Away to France/Lady Madelina Sinclair/The Sheepwife)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/12591 (Mrs Elspeth Campbell/MacLennan’s Overcoat/The Rejected Suitor)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/12598 (The Lochaber Gathering/Braes of Tullymet/Unknown/The Lads from Mull/Mason’s Apron)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36080 (Dornoch Links/Locheil’s Away to France/MacLennan’s Overcoat/Sleepy Maggie/The King’s Reel)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36084 (Meg Merrilies/The Flowers of Edinburgh/The Soldier’s Joy)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36088 (The 74th’s Farewell to Edinburgh/Monymusk/Lord MacDonald’s Reel)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36090 (The Cold Winds of Wyvis/The Smith’s a Gallant Fireman/Sandy King’s Breeches/The Mason’s Apron/The Reel of Tulloch)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/36091 (Sleepy Maggie)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/56759 (John MacDonald of Glencoe/The Shepherd’s Crook/Locheil’s Away to France)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/56820 (The Suitors of Cromarty/The Fair Dairymaid/The Braes of Tullymet/Unknown/The Lads of Mull/The Mason’s Apron)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/56824 (Haughs of Cromdale/Dornoch Links/The Shepherd’s Crook/Locheil’s Away to France)
http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/56828 (Dh’fhalbhainn Sgiobalta/Locheil’s Welcome to Glasgow/Take your Gun to the Hill/The Rejected Suitor)

- British Library Sounds
+ Albert Smith
https://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Keith-Summers-Collection/025M-C1002X0047XX-1000V0 (Sailor’s hornpipe / Pigeon on the gate)
+ Jack Elliot
https://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/Reg-Hall-Archive/025M-C0903X0007XX-1400V0 (With a banjo on my knee)

- ITMA
+ John Campbell (with Len Graham)
https://www.itma.ie/goilin/song/drunken_tinker_and_lilt_len_graham_john_campbell (The drunken tinker and lilt)
https://www.itma.ie/goilin/song/lassie_with_the_green_garter_len_graham_john_campbell (The lassie with the green garter)

- National Library of Australia / Museum of Sydney
+ Les Sloane (with Sally Sloane)
https://soundcloud.com/sydlivmus/miss-mcleod (Miss McLeod’s reel)

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

My first thought was John Wright too. Having known about him from the Lark in the Clear Air LP, I read about him and know he was British and lived in France for awhile.
This is a great, extensive list. There is some jaw harp played on Ossian’s song Tae the Beggin’. It’s particularly noticeable in the last two verses or so before it moves on to the Perriwig reel.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thank you so much Whimbrel! ^^
Found the song on Youtube and it went immediately on the list!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Unfortunately there are no youtube vids, but the best jaw harp player (and most subtle bodhran player) was the late great Paddy Enwright, who after falling off a boat spent much of his later years in Melbourne and Sydney. I have never played in a better session than when he was behind the wheel. Any who are lucky enough to have heard The Four Star Ceili Band recording-never released (Joe Fitzgerald, Tony O’Rourke, Eileen et al) know of that which I spake.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thank you so much for this information Greenwiggle! It’s a pity we can’t hear his playing.
Just to know, in that never released recording you mention, does he play the jaw harp?

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

https://cdn-cms.f-static.net/uploads/4630627/normal_601998985dab3.pdf
I read this about John Wright last year, when wanting to look him up because of the Lark in the Clear Air album. Interesting that he preferred the term Jew’s harp to jaw harp… I can’t comment on terminology and I know this is not what the discussion is about, but it’s still interesting.
For these who look up John Wright, note that there was also another John Wright in the English folk scene, but he was a singer (many of his songs are good though).

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

This is a great list! It’s really interesting how some players or groups use the jaw harp only occasionally. I’ve listened to quite a bit of John Kirkpatrick’s music, but didn’t know until seeing your list that he was sometimes accompanied by a jaw harp. I also find it very interesting that the High Level Ranters used a jaw harp for some of the tracks on their first album, but none of their subsequent albums (at least not the ones I have).
One more set I know of that has jaw harp is towards the end of the Estonian waltz/reel set on Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham’s album The Ruby. (Sorry if it’s already there and I just didn’t see it).

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

About the origin of the term "jew’s harp" I really suggest reading Micheal Wright’s book, There is an entire chapter about that subject.
It’s on Google Books (it’s a preview, so I think there’s a limited number of page you can read): https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Jews_Harp_in_Britain_and_Ireland.html?id=nOIyCwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y
Short version: jew’s harp/trump seems to be the "true" one or at least one of the first terms used in English language, jaw/jaws is a "folk etimology" that came way later. No ties with Judaism per se, perhaps it’s a reference to Kind David’s harp, perhaps in the medieval ages the instrument was sold by jew pedlars, perhaps it was derogatory towards them… nothing sure! But in the book there’s everything you might want to know, also the Irish, Scottish, Welsh names.

Thank you very much for telling me, Whimbrel! <3
I knew about that set, but it’s not on Youtube for now. I think I will upload it myself in the future!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Yes it’s true that in Albums usually the jew’s harp was (and still is) used occasionally. Like a surplus… But nevertheless there really are some good players out there, like Allan MacDonald, Rick Epping, Tommy Hayes, Dick Glasgow and many many others…
John Wright (and now Michael, David and Lucy Wright) perhaps was one of the few who perceived it as a "solo" instrument. Of all the players is the one with the clearest melodic style, very similar to the spectacular traditional playing of Angus Lawrie.

There is also a well played jew’s harp (alas a little in the background) in the track "Jackie Coleman’s / Cregg’s Pipes" of Marcus Hernon’s album "Kindle the fire" (2015).
About John Kirkpatrick, yes he is accompanied by it in the intro of "The Grand Circle Dance" but he also played it himself (and very nicely I think) in the track "Old Black Joe" from the LP "Plain Capers (Morris Dance Tunes From The Cotswolds)". A nice discovery for me too!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

A little "mea culpa": the Youtube Playlist is still a little messy. For now I am keeping at the end of the playlist the longer videos (concerts, full albums and LPs, documentary etc…).
I should perhaps better put together all the music videos of the same type/player/band (e.g. the old field recordings, the Wright family, Malinky, High Level Ranters and so on…). But it’s very difficult now to navigate and displace the videos because they are so many eheh ‘XD

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Hi Alez,
No problem. I’m glad you found the video… apologies, I should have linked.
Thank you for the information about the Michael Wright book and about John Kirkpatrick. The Old Black Joe track is the one I checked out… didn’t realize that was him playing it, good to know!
One more thing: I have to say I’m very impressed with the quality of the 78 RPM Curly Mackay and Willie Kemp. I don’t know much about them, but I do know they played in the 1930s but the sound quality of it is great.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Yes I too was amazed by the quality of their 78rpm! I know a lot of Scottish 78rpm were digitalized.
They appear in two tracks in my playlist, one has unfortunately no name in the title but I think the first tune is "My love she’s but a lassie yet", and they play also the suite "Glendarel Highlanders / Kenmure’s On And Awa’ (6/8 Marches) / Lovat Scouts (2/4 March) / Monymusk (Highland Fling)" which is a little further down in my playlist.
I know that Curly Mackay and Willie Kemp made several other 78rpms where the jaw harp is played but unfortunately those two are the only ones that can be found on the internet for now.

One thing I wanted to add to all the convoluted premises I made: for now (apart from some exceptions) I tended not to put in the playlist canadian and american old time music/barn dances & such. That should deserve a separate playlist (there really is a lot of them!!) but I don’t have the time for now…
Anyway I wanted to post here a very interesting track among them: it’s a 1928 US barn dance 78rpm by Obed Pickard. He plays very well the jaw harp solo but most importantly he makes a little speech in which he says the jaw harps come from… Ireland! 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6eJjbsFkr0&ab_channel=MikeyRemembers

That is very interesting because, as you can read in Micheal Wright’s book, jew’s harps were actually made in Ireland (but not only there as Obed Pickard claimed, in Britain the jew’s harp industry was more developed and it survived until the 1970s) and there are also mentions of an Irish jew’s harp maker who made them in the US after emigrating in the XIX century.
But in America jaw harps were for the most part British imports or British makers who came to the USA (like the famous Smith family of jaw harp makers).
Sorry for the history lesson ‘XD

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

I love a history lesson!
Yes, I found the video with My Love She’s but a Lassie Yet and recognized that tune. Unfortunately, the Glendarel Highlanders video isn’t working and I’m getting an error saying the video is unavailable. My guess is that either it’s not available in my country, or that the album was pulled from YouTube and digital stores (which seems to be happening a bit more lately).

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Ow, that’s a shame Whimbrel!
Here is the Spotify link where (I hope) you can listen to it…
https://open.spotify.com/track/61bIexOVBVCDegZpSPjap2?si=cb3ace8f540f45d7
yes I think it might be some availability problem between America and Europe…
I really hope that Youtube won’t take down the music taken from Spotify because that’s like more than half of my playlist!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Hi Alez,
Thank you for the link to the Spotify page. It worked. It’s interesting, even though I live in the US, most of the traditional music groups I listen to are based in Europe and I can usually find what I’m looking for fairly easily… although I suppose I don’t know what I’m missing if I don’t know what I’m looking for!
Also, it does seem to take quite a bit of detective work finding a song like this with misspellings and the wrong tags, such as, in the case of this song, Glendaruel being spelled Glendarel and the artists showing as Willie Mackay and Kemp! It must have taken a long time for you to put this whole list together!

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

The weirdest thing… now I did find it on YouTube.
https://youtu.be/3aDWn4bPBnw

Not sure why it wasn’t working for me at first! But as I mentioned earlier, the misspellings make it hard to find!

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Oh very well! And… that link you put doesn’t work for me XD
Perhaps they uploaded it two times for the two sides of the pond eheh
Yes you pointed out a real detail of my work there: it took my quite a bit…
A large part of those tunes were found thanks to Discogs, bless that website!!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Oh that is funny! I think you might be right about two uploads, although most of the videos work fine for me from that list.
I agree Discogs is a great source of information for learning about albums, and often purchasing them. I’m also a fan of Mainly Norfolk (although primarily for English folk, you can find some Scottish and Irish as well) which not only has full tune listings, but also often has information about who is playing what on a specific track.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Oh thank you so much Whimbrel for telling me that website!! I already used it but now I understood its full potential. I found many others albums with the jew’s harp and found some of them on Youtube… and obviously updated my playlist!!
Thanks again!!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

I actually think this is pretty much the best ever thread in all the time I’ve lurked around this site. Top quality Alez, this is my idea of real folk music. Bang on

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Steve T, your appreciation really means a lot for me!! Thank you so much for the compliment.

By the way. There’s a thing a friend of mine made me think about when we discussed the topic of the jew’s harp in Irish and Scottish music: there can be a connection between a melodic and precise jew’s harp playing style (the one used by John Wright or Angus Lawrie so to speak) and lilting / port à beul. If one can "sing" a tune he can easily play it on the jew’s harp also because the changing of the shape of the mouth cavity is nearly the same. A pretty clear connection between those two worlds is mentioned in the booklet of John Wright’s LP "La Guimbarde" (1971) when John tells that he learned in the 1960s the reels "Christmas Eve / Craig’s Pipes" from an Irish player called Sweeney (alas he couldn’t get his full name) who first lilted the tunes then played them on a jew’s harp.
Another notable thing, and I can’t praise that enought, it’s the masterful playing by Angus Lawrie. He was a prominent scottish piper so in some way I think that the jew’s harp reflects a little the player. In this case Lawrie plays the instrument with extreme care for the melody, for grace notes & such… like it was a bagpipe.
One could argue that there can be a good jew’s harper who doesn’t play other instruments or viceversa good players of fiddle/pipes/etc who can’t play the jew’s harp… which is true but nonetheless these are some ideas to think about.
Anyway, I am really happy for the appreciation. I hope the Youtube playlist and the tracks from Online Archives will be useful for present and future players who want to give a chance to this particular instrument!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Hey - should one get a jaw harp in a specific key(s) if desiring to play in a session?

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

No - you need teeth in a specific key.

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Yes Choons, a jew’s harp is tuned in a specific key and by plucking it you make that note only BUT with movements of the mouth cavity/tongue you can select the harmonics to perform the melody, while by plucking and doing blows of breath you make the rhythm. It’s like a drone instrument in the end…
And other detail: it’s better to play major tunes for the most part because among the harmonics you can "select" you lack the minor third note of your key. In minor tunes you better make only rhythm and follow the chords.
So in conclusion you better have several jew’s harp in the most used keys… D, G, A, E, Bb and so on.
There are several professional jew’s harp makers out there that make some pretty good instruments! If you want some advice for the purchase write me privately!

Ahah good one Kenny! XD

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Oh yes magnets are a solution to lower the tone key of the jaw harp!
But I personally prefer (and recommend) using bee’s wax, it sticks perfectly and it’s easy to remove.
Plus you can add (or remove) it little by little and so tune your instrument pitch-perfect.
Plus it’s very cheap… even cheaper if you have a beekeeper friend! XD

To raise the tone you could file a little the trigger of the tongue but I don’t recommend it because it can be dangerous (you can ruin or break the trigger) and most of all it’s irreversible.

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Ah yes in Québécois music the jew’s harp is extensively used! And very well I might add.
Another band who uses it is Le Vent du Nord.
That’s really curious, the fact that the jaw harp made (more or less) a more lasting success in American, Canadian and Québécois folk music in comparison to Irish and Scottish… but perhaps it’s all a matter of perspective.
Well… in the end my playlist was born exactly with the intent to highlight the presence of that instrument in dear old Europe XD

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Here’s one you may or may not want to add to your list; the first track has an Inuit guy playing along on jew’s harp with a familiar reel; don’t know if there’s anymore than that on the album, haven’t listened to the rest yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufcq_L0x8Ss&list=FLDl8bUGgkIXs9uMYblKsqBQ&index=223


(Btw: just listening to the second cut and wondering why the melody seemed familiar - it just came to me: it’s that of the French drinking song ‘Chevaliers de la table ronde’.)

I’m on the third track - more jew’s harp. Sounds like ‘What Shall We Do With the Baby-O’.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Btw the guy on the video about the magnet that AB posted is Jonathan Cope.
Apart from being a good player (I think there’s a video of his in my playlist), it must be noted that he is (at least from what I know) the only jew’s harp maker active in the British Isles.
Personal remark: pity that he makes (for now) only jew’s harps in the Norwegian style (munnharpe) and not instruments inspired by the various historical models produced in England and Ireland.
But to be fair the instruments he makes seem to be very good (but they are quite expensive…).
Here he is presenting one of his latest instruments last year:
https://youtu.be/wtobssF6C9w

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thanks a lot meself for this very peculiar album!!
Ok that is very very curious… so they’re playing Miss McLeod’s Reel and singing along in Inuit language?
This is a very interesting cultural patchwork. But I wonder if this is "intentionally ironic", like a parody, or "intentionally genuine", so using western tunes to sing the chants from their musical culture.

Anyway, I found a video only with the Reel and added to the playlist!
Really appreciated!! <3

Well, Miss Mcleod’s Reel it’s a favourite for the jew’s harp all over the world I see.
John Wright plays it in "La Veillée des Veillées", it’s played by Sally and Les Sloane (Australians of Irish descent I guess) in that recording I put in a previous post here… and then this!

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Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

I don’t understand Inuttitut (the Inuit language), although I have some familiarity with Inuit culture, and I’m certain that these would have been newly-composed lyrics - or at least made up to be put to those tunes at some point - rather than anything to do with the ‘pre-contact’ part their musical culture. By this point, tunes like ‘Miss MacLeod’s’ would be part of their musical culture, as would those C&W songs the melodies of which are borrowed for some of those songs. The comic-sounding performances captured would certainly be full of irony, both in lyrics and presentation, but an irony intended for the amusement of their Inuit audience, rather than for outside sophisticates.

Re: YouTube Playlist of Jaw Harp in Irish, Scottish, etc… Traditional music and Folk Revival

Thank you very much meself for the explanation!

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