What tune has the most names?

What tune has the most names?

The post just now re "Sullivan’s March" prompted me to look that tune up. Apparently, it is "Also known as A Rock And A Wee Pickle Tow, The Burnt Old Man, Captain Collins, The First Clan March Of The O’Sullivans, Lilliburlero, Máirseáil Uí Shúilleabháin, Mairseail Ui Shulleabhain, March Of The O’Sullivans, The March Of The O’Sullivans, O’Sullivan’s, O’Sullivan’s Clan, The Old Hag Tossed Up In A Blanket, The Old Hag Tossed Up In A BlanketO’, Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket, The Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket, Páinneach Na NUbh, The Rock And The Wee Pickle Tow, Rock And Wee Pickle Tow, Sullivan’s, Sullivan’s March, Sweeping The Cobwebs Out Of The Sky, There Was An Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket, The Wee Pickle Tow."

Is that a record?

Re: What tune has the most names?

Well, this looks like a lot, but many of the names are just simple variants of others. So there are nine variants of Sullivan’s March in English and Gaelic. If you reduce the variants I think there are only really seven different names; Lilliburlero is obviously not the tune generally known by that name, so I wouldn’t count it (is it a mistake?).

So there may well be other tunes out there that a greater number of (really) different names …

Re: What tune has the most names?

When you first set out to learn this music, there are 15,000 tunes. In time, you realize there is just 1 tune but it has 15,000 names.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

The Old Woman tossed up in a Blanket (who also swept the cobwebs out of the sky!) is also more like Lillibulero, and neither of those are the same tune as O’Sullivan’s March or "The Roke". Sorry!

The Boys of Bluehill seems to have quite a few other names: a friend who plays Northumbrian pipes has it as "The Lads of North Tyne", which is in the list of alternatives under the Tunes tab here:
Also known as The Beaux Of Oak Hill, The Beaux Of Oakhill, The Boys From The Blue Hill, The Boys Of Blue Hill, The Boys Of Blue Oak Hill, Boys Of The Blue Hill, Buachaillí An Chnoic Ghoirm, The Lad Of Bluehill, The Lads Of North Tyne, Mildew On My Mind, Na Buacaillide Ua Cnoc-gorm, Na Buaichallí Gorm.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Yeah, close duplicates shouldn’t be counted. I don’t know which has the most, but "This is My Love, Do You Like Her" sure has a lot of different names. Something like 20 completely different names by a rough count. Also 31 different settings (!) which might be a record here. https://thesession.org/tunes/6

Re: What tune has the most names?

"Buachaillí An Chnoic Ghoirm" is just Irish for "Boys of Blue Hill", and Beaux of Oakhill sounds like a garbled or misheard version of the English name. So I’m pretty sure that Boys of Bluehill in English/Irish is the original name, and that leaves only a couple of alternatives which are probably late on the scene: the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society admit that "the re-naming of Boys of the Blue Hills is very recent" (NPS Tune Book, 2nd edn, 1970).

Re: What tune has the most names?

Yes, I realise that, and same applies to the OP’s list. I guess a trawl around the Tunes section here will come up with some real record-breakers?

Re: What tune has the most names?

There was an old woman tossed up in a blanket
To sweep the cobwebs out of the sky
She wept as she swept from the scent of the pickles
That wafted up from the Sullivans as they marched by.

translated from the old Irish poem "Rinne mé é seo suas anois".

Re: What tune has the most names?

Reminds me of that old joke about GHB tunes: how can you tell bagpipe tunes apart? Answer: by their names.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Anyone here can add a name to a tune without giving any reason whatsoever - and they do. A fairly pointless excercise, IMHO.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

Jeremy has an API to the data for this site, and it lists the tune aliases, but only on the detail call for a specific tune. (i.e. https://thesession.org/tunes/1139?format=json, which has 18 aliases). I could pretty easily write a little script to load every tune page, and count their aliases to find out which tunes have the most names according to this site. But it would probably be easier (and create a lot less traffic on his server) for Jeremy to just look them up and give us a list. But Kenny is correct, the tune names on this site are "crowd-sourced", and you can’t necessarily rely on the data for anything particularly definitive…

Re: What tune has the most names?

Gimpy got it right - Best post I’ve ever read on this site in 15 years; third post in, but if you’re too lazy here it is again…

"When you first set out to learn this music, there are 15,000 tunes.
In time, you realize there is just 1 tune but it has 15,000 names."

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😀 😀 😲 😉

Re: What tune has the most names?

I once read somewhere that the reel Boyne Hunt had some 70 differents titles…
According to The Traditional Tune Archive, the Boyne Hunt is also known as :
Seilg na Boinne, Highland Skip, Maid Amongst the Roses (The), Molly Maguire [or Molly McGuire’s Reel], Niel Gow’s Reel, Perthshire Hunt (The), Popcorn (The), Sailor’s Trip to Liverpool (The), Smyth’s Reel, Thomas a cartha, Tom the Blacksmith, Perth Hunt (The), Bridge of Perth.

I don’t know if "a cartha" is a translation of "the Blacksmith", and I don’t know the meaning of "Seilg na Boinne".

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Re: What tune has the most names?

To say that (for example) "The Irish Washerwoman" and "An Bhean Níocháin Éireannach" mean the same and are therefore not different names for the same tune is absurd.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Johnny will you Marry me/Braes of Marr/The Devil’s Dead etc has to be at least in the running.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Here’s the list of tune IDs and their aliases:
https://raw.githubusercontent.com/adactio/TheSession-data/main/csv/aliases.csv

There are weekly data dumps of information like this uploaded here:
https://github.com/adactio/TheSession-data
(So, Reverend, please don’t ever write the kind of script you described: not only is it uneccessary to hit every single tune on the site, it would also be a real strain on the site’s bandwidth and possibly its uptime.)

Re: What tune has the most names?

Obversely, a contender for a name with the most tunes is the floater "The Hare in the Corn"

https://thesession.org/tunes/1736
https://thesession.org/tunes/11666
https://thesession.org/tunes/12234
https://thesession.org/tunes/8467
https://thesession.org/tunes/644
https://thesession.org/tunes/4579
https://thesession.org/tunes/12124
https://thesession.org/tunes/8444

Not counting Paddy Fahey’s or Gan Ainm, of course. A tune title with the most variations of essentially the same name has got to be Farrel O’Garas:

Also known as The Falcarragh, Faral O’Gara, Farl O’Gara, Farral O’Gara, Farrall O’Gara, Farrel Gara, Farrel O’Gara, Farrell Gara, Farrell O’ Gara, Farrell O’Gara, Farrell O’Gara’s, Feargal O’Gara, Fearghaill O’Gara, Fearghal O Ghadra, Fearghal O’ Gadhra, Fearghal O’Gadhra, Fearghal O’Gara, Fearghal O’Gara’s, Fergal O’Gara, Fergal O’Gara’s, Ferghal O’Gadhra, Ferral O’Gara, FukkinHell Jerry.

Re: What tune has the most names?

The only correct spelling is how yon man spells his own name! The rest are fairy tales!

Re: What tune has the most names?

HA! This is a great question! I’ve always thought it very strange so many tunes have a dozen or more names, and oft entirely unrelated. On another site, "John Barleycorn" is aka, "The Idiot." I propose we form a Single Name Society.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Ciaran Carson, in Last Night’s Fun (pp.8-9), mentions than, according to Brendan Breathnach, "Rolling In The Ryegrass" is known as: Maureen Playboy, Old Molly Ahern, The Piper’s Lass, The Rathkeale Hunt, The Shannon Breeze, The Lady’s Top Dress, The Lady’s Tight Dress, The Telegraph, What the Devil Ails Him?, Roll Her on the Banks, The Railway Station, The Connachtman’s Rambles, McCaffrey’s Reel, What the Devil Ails You?, The Lady on the Railway, The Brown Red Girl, Love Among the Roses, The Kilfinane Reel, The Listowel Lasses, Boil the Kettle Early, Kitty Got a Clinking, and Punch for the Ladies.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

Even tunes bestowed with many names have far fewer of them than they do versions or settings. Thank goodness.

I’m afraid if you’re looking for consistency and One True Name, you’ve come to the wrong island.

But it’s not like this is exclusive to trad tunes. Even people come with multiple names. Consider James Smith.

To his maternal grandparents, he’s Jamie.
To his dad’s mom, from Co. Mayo, he’s Seamie.
To his grade school pals, he’s Jimmy.
To the bullies who give him swirlies in the boys’ room, he’s Swimmy Jimmy.
To his mother, when he’s tracked mud in the house, he’s JAMES WHILLOBY SMITH!
To the cute girl at the desk beside him in his arithmetic class, he’s the anonymous Open Mouth Breather (i.e., Gan Ainm).
To the ancient, forgetful old man who lives next door, he’s Stanley. And sometimes just You, Young Man.
When he goes to college, he introduces himself as Jim.
To his dorm mates, he’s instantly known as Jameson. Except for one wag, who calls him Smithwick’s instead.
His academic advisor calls him Jymes the Fursht, and sometimes Your Highness.
His roommate calls him J.W.
The Australian guy who talks him into joining a rugby team calls him Jimbo.
His calculus professor calls him Mr. Smith whenever he’s late to class.
The same professor, upon spying James trying to sneak into class through a back door, calls him 007.
His girlfriend call him Jay Jay.
By the time he graduates, he is Dr. Smith.
That does not stop colleagues from calling him Jimster.
His boss calls him Jimothy, but only to his face.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

That’s interesting, Gimpy, but I’m not sure how far it gets us. Almost all the multiple names in your example are derived from James/Jim and/or Smith. What earlier posters seem to be interested in is the fact that some traditional tunes have several names that are completely unrelated.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Borderer, my examples are illustrative, not exhaustive. I believe "Open Mouth Breather," "Stanley," and "007" get at the issue you raise. Some names are true non sequiturs (e.g., Stanley) while others are derivative but not obvious to the uninitiated (007).

The point is, there are very few things in life that go by only one name and one name only. Why should tunes be the exception? It’s not an irritation but rather an enrichment.

Besides, in an aural tradition, tunes are bound to pick up varied and sundry "interpretations," in melody and in title. For generations, tunes have been swapped and stolen by ear, in various states of sobriety, half remembered the next day. Like stones in a rock tumbler, they look different when they come out.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

"The point is, there are very few things in life that go by only one name and one name only. Why should tunes be the exception? It’s not an irritation but rather an enrichment."

Multiple names are harmless and fun if they’re part of the aural tradition and there is no known composer, as with most of our tunes. On the other hand when the composer is well-known, I think most will respect the composer’s title. We don’t see alternate names for The Diplodocus or The High Drive.

Maybe in 100 years those tunes will acquire alternate names through the folk tradition, although tunes composed in the modern era of recording probably have a better chance of the names surviving. At least, until all the CD data and paper inserts dissolve, and the metadata is lost on digital files. Maybe then they’ll get different tune names. 🙂

Re: What tune has the most names?

Well, I would hazard a guess that there is greater variation in the names of traditional tunes than the names of people. Certainly tune names in ITM seem to be less stable and more changeable than STM, possibly because the latter has a long tradition of fiddle tunes deriving from aristocratic patronage or pipe tunes associated with army regiments and soldiers. And as CB says, when the composer is known, the name tends to stick. But I still wonder why in ITM there is a body of tunes which only seem to be known by one name (e.g. the Longford Collector, the Sailor’s Bonnet, Sally Gardens) while others have a great number of alternatives.

And I am aware that many musicians couldn’t care less about tune names, but I find it hard to learn and remember a tune if I don’t know its name. And I also find the names an interesting question in itself.

Re: What tune has the most names?

Conical, notoriety may bestow a measure of protection for a time, but it’s not kevlar, and time erodes all things. It happens even in a composer’s lifetime.

Liz names all of her tunes, yet many have been recorded and labeled as simply "Liz Carroll’s."

Similarly, Splendid Isolation is also known as Brendan McGlinchey’s but also, oddly, as Farewell to Jim.

Then you get tunes like Sweeney’s Buttermilk, sometimes called McGlinchey’s, but also ascribed to a different composer, e.g., as Charlie Lennon’s No. 2.

Never Was Piping So Gay, perhaps one of Ed Reavy’s more famous tunes, has picked up assorted names, including Ed Reavy’s, the Blacksmith’s Anvil, and Sheanie Mulhearne’s. Go figure. Also, go look at the assorted names for Maudabawn Chapel….

Lunasa has been particularly prolific in inventing tune names, and it’s not restricted to old tunes with no known composer (see McLeod’s Farewell > The Wedding Reel). In such cases, it shows a certain lack of respect, but it happens so much in this music that it’s basically been normalized.

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Re: What tune has the most names?

Borderer, have a peek at the Longford Collector’s titles here: https://thesession.org/tunes/563. All tethered to Longford, yes, but still some variety.

Surely the OP is a wind up, much like BFCC’s post on bog standards to avoid, and he’s gotten his mileage here….

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Re: What tune has the most names?

Hi Gimpy, the Bog Standard post did contain elements of sarcasm (inspired by a number of posts on the "slow sessions" thread) but turned into quite a useful discussion, for which I am grateful.

This one is just for fun though.

It was hinted above that there are people who go around sowing confusion by adding made-up titles to the "also known as" sections, leading people to believe that "Soldier’s Joy" is a/k/a "The Aardvark’s Lament for the Hyrax" or whatever. Shame upon such people!

Re: What tune has the most names?

It’s all good, The Boy fCC.

Yes, the aka names on this board aren’t reliable—they’re a mashup of genuine akas and fantastical fabrications. Album liner notes are also often not credible (see my Lunasa example above), but then if the album is popular enough, the errant aliases become self-fulfilling prophecies. And even asking a fellow musician for the name of the tune they just played doesn’t guarantee getting an answer based in reality.

In short, there’s no way to know which tune has gathered the most *genuine* names, or why some tunes have many and others few.

A corollary question might be: Which one name has been applied (in good faith, and not merely in error) to the most tunes?

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Re: What tune has the most names?

Not forgetting "I Married My Wife, And Lay On Top Of Her".

Re: What tune has the most names?

You’re all off the mark →→→ none of that frivolous Irish music name-shuffling activity ranks with the "Happy Birthday" song for the huge number of names involved, which as sung around the world 24/7, involves a number of names that is always increasing. That which cannot end, which always changes, may go undetected by minds trained to compulsively claw at all that is with an obstructing partiality.

What tune has the most keys?

Re: What tune has the most names?

It’s got to be Paddy Fahey.


Wait….that’s "What name has the most tunes?"

Re: What tune has the most names?

I’m pretty sure that was not his intention. I don’t know but I think (for him) the tunes’ names were always the least important aspect of his compositions; of any traditional-style tunes.

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