Irish Traditional Music - Scottish Traditional Music for beginners!!

Irish Traditional Music - Scottish Traditional Music for beginners!!

Not really posted here much in a while and thought I might begin again with this.

Many people will spend ages arguing whether in an Irish session you should here any non-Irish tunes, such as Scottish tunes - do they belong there? There are some that seem to sneak in and become accepted but then do they stop being Scottish. I heard one girl, who didn’t play much Scottish music that the Montgomery Bell Waltz was ok as it was not really Scottish. "But it was written by Gordon Gunn - a Scottish fiddler". "Yes but what difference does that make? If I wrote a tune I would consider it to be Irish".

So:

1. What makes a tune Irish rather than Scottish?

2. (And here is the controversial bit…) Surely Irish music is just Scottish Music for beginners. Scottish music jumps around alot and has complicated things like Scotch snaps and other interesting stuff. Irish music just goes up and down like a rollercoaster. It is Diddly Music for the hard of thinking. It is simplified to help everyone understand it better - hence its greater appeal. To quote/paraphrase Michael Gill "anyone can play it". Scottish music is obviously superior and requires a more refined mind.

Discuss…..

:-)

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Ha Ha.

Very Good.

Not falling for it.

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Not falling for what? You yourself say you want to play Breton music. You realise the inadequacies of Irish music yourself. You are taking the first few steps to enlightenment. Be bold and you will make it!!

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yawn…

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ha ha, no time now. But I will ruminate and get back

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"2. (And here is the controversial bit…) Surely Irish music is just Scottish Music for beginners. Scottish music jumps around alot and has complicated things like Scotch snaps and other interesting stuff. Irish music just goes up and down like a rollercoaster. It is Diddly Music for the hard of thinking. It is simplified to help everyone understand it better - hence its greater appeal. To quote/paraphrase Michael Gill "anyone can play it". Scottish music is obviously superior and requires a more refined mind."

Bollox.

Jeezus Alistair, you obviously have your tongue firmly in your cheek here.

I hope……

Otherwise…….

I’ll just sit back and get out my six-pack again.

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That you braggin’ about your figure again Ron P, or is it just another needle, or noodle, at us ‘fat guys’?

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I would agree to differ.
IMNSHO the things you pick out as defining aspects of Scottish music are merely styles and affectations of the last couple of centuries, that have driven a not-so-permanent wedge between two aspects of celtic music.
The quintessential elements remain the same, which is why you can have musicians from NE England, Scotland, the Shetlands, and all parts of Ireland happily playing together. ( Oh, did I mention the Boys of the Lough ?).
Anyway, aren’t we all Europeans now ? ( Apart from my SO, but I married an alien ).
As Karl Dallas said, many years ago, whilst introducing Alan Stivell, "Two thousand years ago you could move across much of Western Europe, speaking celtic, and being understood wherever you went." It’s all one culture, with local variations, mainly recent and political.
Open up !

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It’s a huge big bowl of noodles Dick, and a six-pack of very fattening beer.

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Look, Guernsey Pete’s fallen for it!

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In a Homer voice - Mmmmmmm Noooooooooooodlesssssssss

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In a Homer voice - Mmmmmmm fattening Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer

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At our session, we play mostly Irish, with some Scottish, and a little American old-time thrown in. The publican who hosts us is Irish, so in his honor, that’s what gets the bulk of the time. Most listeners don’t realize we are mixing it up (it all sounds Irish to them, because it involves fiddles and whistles and those strange drums), and those who do realize what we are doing don’t mind. After all, we are Americans, and everything we do is a hybrid of cultures.
And for God’s sake, as far as differences in the music go, the Irish Sea is only 20 miles or so wide, and you folks have been stealing from each other for years. I am surprised there are still recognizable varieties at this point! And regarding the relative superiority of the different musical traditions—I am not going to rise to Alistair’s bait—it is all good, just a wee bit different.

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Well said Al. Sin e!

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Al, is it amazing that "there are still recognizable varieties at this point!" I think not, when you consider that, even in North Antrim here, you only need to travel from one village to the next, perhaps only 5 miles apart, & you find that folks have a slightly different accent.

So it’s no wonder really, that a 20 mile stretch of water helps to keep the music distinctive!

You can also look at all the different styles of playing tunes, found throughout Scotland & Ireland, to realise that distance, however small, helps to maintain distinctive differences in styles of playing.

However, I resent the implication that we’ve been stealing from each other! We only borrow!

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i could write you a song and play it for you no problem with 3 octave jumps every other note. it wouldnt sound very good, but it could be done.

theres more than jumps to being difficult or good to listen to. listen to handel’s messiah and hear the virtuosity of the singers, and they dont do big jumps very often. or machaut’s agnus dei. considered one of the hardest vocal pieces ever, and not because of the jumps, because of the rhythm (lack). that doesnt make the music bad or good, but difficult does not have to have big jumps.

its far harder to play with a good neagh than to change octaves constantly. sure if you want to get technical certain keys / chromatics are harder on other instruments, but it just takes brute force— practice practice practice. neagh is a lot harder. first you gotta figure out how to do it on your instrument, and then you gotta start doing it, and then you gotta figure out what neagh IS (or what sort of neagh you’re going for), and then you have to start over again cuz you probably learned it wrong in the beginning and have to undo your old habits, etc.

so maybe anyone can play irish music, but i would say anyone can play scottish music. i contend that to play ANY music really well takes about the same amouint of difficulty. there are things that i do for my irish music tonewise and supportwise that you would never need to do for classical music, and there are intervals and speed of chromatics etc that i cant play well at all in classical that you dont need for irish music (and then there’s the high notes, which i do ok with, but you dont need those for irish either).

it’s all relative. and a good musician can handle the jumps and whatever you were referring to, so it wouldnt make a difference if they never played a drop of scottish and only played irish. if they were good, once they would figure out the style of scottish then they would be fine.

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A quote from some american guy (with a strong southern accent) - "As far as I can see it, all music’s folk music. I ain’t neva seen a horse play a gitah."

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Ptarm, don’t expect Michael to tell you anything new:

Ruminate (verb) - : to chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed : chew the cud; also to chew repeatedly for extended periods.

As to Scottish Music, Alistair, I’m surprised that you came up with such an idea. I’ve been watching Scottish music many times on TV, and, first of all, it’s a bit dull - there are only seven or so melodies. Also, you need to have a squad of other players, including a dozen of bagpipers, two march drums and one big drum; otherwise, you are allowed only to stand alone on a top of a hill somewhere in the country and bellow out long, sad notes (they call it airs, and rightfully so, as they use up a lot of air when they play). Moreover, the melodies are barely distinguishable from one another, and all the players must be dressed up in these fancy skirts!

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[strong southern accent] Janek, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. Get a pair of bagpipes learn Amazing Grace and the Old Spice Song ( has been renamed "Scotland the Brave", I think…), now you can stand on a hill in skirt and do both Funerals AND Weddings. Add Hav - a -Nargila for Bar/Bat Mitzvas. 8-)

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Hey Janek, before ye start makin’ fun o’ me ain countries national dress, tak a wee keek at yer ain yin:
- http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~aa051/pfc.html

Do you not have real horses in Poland?
I suppose everyone needs a hobby (horse)! :-D

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As for you Owell, hae a wee keek at this site:
http://www.awesomewestern.com/
What Texas culture has given the World - line dancing! Yeeee Haaaaaa

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HEY THANKS! That’s a nice vented Straw! That White Felt is for tourists, you’d sweat thru that crossing the the street. That Line Dance is a wonderful thing: Now you get to dance, and don’t have to face off with some muscular granny…. and they say, "Now I don’t have to dance with some beardy auld git"…

I’ve never actually seen one myself. I get accused of not trying very hard.

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My dad had this guy over all dressed up in Texican gear with the hat, the larger than life belt buckle and the string tie. This guy was all talk about his ranch. Dad later told me it was a chicken farm.. ..

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the quintessential celticcowboy Alex Beaton

"old spice song"… : (

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My my, Ptarm - you are a one good private eye. You could earn a fortune working for presidential candidates, helping them find embarassing facts about their opponents.

Well, at least I am happy that I prompted you to learn something about Polish culture :-P

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"…Irish music is Scottish music for beginners…." well, no matter what the motive for saying it , there’s certainly an element of truth in it.

I think some find particular aspects of Scots fiddle tunes tricky compared to Irish - the cross-bowing for a start. Not to mention the purity of intonation required - none of this "not sure if it’s F nat or F# (E-string), so I’ll go for the quarter-tone in between", thank you.

Then there’s the sometimes angular melody lines (I’m sure it harks back to it’s classical ancestry) - not the easiest of phrases to play smoothly and in time.

But - Irish trad is more popular by comparison, and more widely played the around the world - there’s no dispute about that.

Quoting a patriotic (but non-playing) Scot at a folk festival a while back, talking about Irish tunes (phonetically): "They’ve taaken guid Scots tunes and rrr-ooined them, by wattering doon da melody and put-in all them diddly bits in all over the place….bliddy scandalous, if you ask me."

Then there’s a (fiddle playing) Irish man who tells me that "one hell of lot of Scottish tunes are really trite, especially the single reel ones".

Well, is life too short or what? :-) :-)

Jim

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Goodness me - I find this thread very hard to fathom. I hope it was a wind-up Alistair.

I for one, have a great love for both Scottish & Irish traditional music - especially fiddle music. For anyone to suggest one tradition is superior to the other, smacks of both ignorance and arrogance.

Wise up guys!

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The Scots were a tribe of Celts who came in the 5th and 6th centuries from northern Ireland to live in the region the Romans used to refer to as Caledonia. Therefore Scottish music IS Irish music.

discuss

(runs for cover)

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OK. I know it’s a wind-up - but it is a kinda stupid one.

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OK Phantom - I’m gonna throw an exploding haggis - and if you’ve ever seen one of these mothers go off - you’d better have your tin hat handy!

Here it comes!

Wheeeeeeeeeee………..

Plop.

tick - tick - tick - tick………

KERSPL*!?@$€&??@!**F!!!!!!

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Very much tongue in cheek Janek, I assure you!

I’d actually love to learn more about the trad music over there. I’m sure there are some great melodies I could use on my H Dulcimer for a start!

I also love all Scottish Music & all Irish Music - so there.
Yins just as gid as ‘tother!
So for me, there’s no a bad tune in either country - just bad players!

Hey Ron P, be careful wi’ thon explodin’ Haggis, will ye! Ye just blew away the ‘subject’ from my last posting!

Mmmm tasty, got any exploding Tumshy?

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My mum’s maiden name is Scott. When I slagged her about it she beat me over the head with that factoid about the Scotii being Irish. When you think that my da’s surname is McDonnell it means that going to Scotland to educate/subdue the natives must be in my blood. Onward to Falkirk!!

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WTF is Tumshy Dick - is it an Embro delicacy?

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Puts a new meaning to bangers dosn’t it?

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Tumshy Dick? Uh… this is a family website you realize.

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Conan - did someone tell you to "get to Falkirk" - or are you unfortunate enough to actually be going there? If so - watch out for the one-way system - you might never escape from it!

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Sorry to disappoint you guys but Tumshy is only that rare delicacy Mashed Turnips, which you have with Mashed Potatoes & Haggis!

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Right Dick - never heard it called that - simply bashed neeps & tatties.

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Hehe naw it was just a rhetorical exhortation! The usual verbal diarrhoea on my part. I will take your advice on Falkirk to heart though.

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Well - I’m away to Falkirk off just now myself.

Time for bed said Zebidee.

Boing…………….

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz………

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Just a wee touch o’ proof:

I sairly miss the pibroch,
As it gaily builds its nest.
The haggis smells so sweetly,
As I tuck it in my vest.

The tumshy’s in my fondest dreams,
As it sails up the Clyde,
And I oft-times wish, I could have a dish,
Of bonny Kate McBride.

The porridge that my mither used,
To paint the kitchen door,
The touch of cockie leekie
As it runs around the floor.

You’ll find the rest opf the poem here:
http://www.it-serve.co.uk/poetry/Other/thememoirsalzheimers.php

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Hey Conan, I see you work in IT. Perhaps you can help me?

I just splashed out on an eMac, but now I can’t submit tunes here cause I can’t seem to find the ‘Bar Lines’ on the eMac Keypad!

On my old PC, the bar line was to be found on the extreme left end of the keypad, just to the right of the single arrow pointing upwards, thingy, but on my Apple Keypad, they don’t appear to have that line?

Help?

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I’m on a Mac and for me it’s at the far right end of the qwerty row on shift.

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Thanks Button,
Is that just to the left of the ‘turn on down to the next row’ button, thingy, PB?

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Opinions on this one are pointless.

(Though I could mention the fact that there is far more Irish music played in Scotland’s capital than Scottish music - and played by Scots too - who played Scottish music as kids - and have now grown up.)

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Opinions on all things are pointless, to someone who has already made up their mind.

However, some folks might still be swithering, in which case they may just be interested in what’s being said here.

I certainly remember, back in the dark ages, when Bell’s was the only session pub in Edinburgh, that it was mostly Irish muysic you heard there. However, the last 2 or 3 times I’ve been home I’ve actually heard far more Scottish than Irish music?

Didn’t visit ALL the music pubs though!

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True, there is a newer generation of terrifically good Scottish players who haven’t got round to Irish music yet.

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This and and all other similar discussions can be summed up by Charles Seeger’s dictum,"Plagiarism is the basis of all culture"

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"Opinions on this one are pointless. "

Yeah sure Michael - your opinion is maybe a bit narrow minded - in my opinion, that is!

Well, Michael, my mind’s made up. Both traditions are great. I don’t understand how one can be "better" than the other.

Alistair, you seem to be keeping your head low here - it was you who started this thread. Come on now and pop your head above the parapet. I’ve got me gattling gun ready! ;-)

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I never said one was better. I love Scottish music. Can’t play to save my life, but still love it

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Did I misread that, or did dafydd really just say "Ptarmiganism is the basis of all culture"? :-D

Michael - "Can’t play to save my life, but still love it" - join the club!

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OK Michael, you didn’t use the word "better" - I put it in inverted commas because of title of this thread. I’ll let you off - but reading between the lines……….

Come on Alistair!

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Sorry, I have not been keeping my head low. I have been working lots and this is my first chance to get back on the computer.

Not sure what you meant by asking if this is a wind up Ron? I am deadly serious!! ;-) People aren’t half wound up easily on forums. You can guarantee that no matter how obviously you make it that it is a wind up someone will get the hump!!

Thanks Janek for the slagging - most amusing, and true.

In my whistle class I learn a good mix of Scottish and Irish tunes. There are certainly differences in style, not that the average joe punter would spot them. We have just been learning Sporting Paddy and as it was so accurately phrased in the comments section of that tune’s entry here "Wheeeeeeeeee". Irish tunes are great fun and can be fantastic. Scottish tunes can often be quite quite trite as Jim’s friend pointed out. Although I would have thought that Egan’s Polka was about as trite as you can get and that is definately Irish!

Oh and Conan, as a Scottish history graduate ("Can I have fries with that"?) I have looked at the MacDonalds, and their sister clans quite a lot. The McDonnells were originally from Scotland anyway before "moving" (not entirely of their own choice) to Ireland and changing their name. They then did a great trade as Gall Oglaigh, mercenaries for hire, which I assume is what you were refering to with your Falkirk reference.

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ba de ba de ba de ba de ba de ba de ba de……..

That’s my gattling fun Alistair.

;-)

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Ahh I stand corrected Alistair. Cheers! I thought it was the other way about. Yeah the Falkirk thing was a call to arms of sorts. Can you point me in the direction of any decent (and trustworty) references on the Interweb?

Ptarmy, I’m an Apple virgin, so to speak. Still waiting for Eve to tempt me with the forbidden fruit (sorry).

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Hi Conán, The Falkirk thing, where I’m originally from, as you’ll have gathered, is an insult - as in "get tae Falkirk ya bass". Not that I was serious, as you well know.

But Alistair, I thought Scottish music was superior to Iri……

Runs away, very, very fast…………

;-)

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Woops, badly worded, I’m not from Falkirk, but many people have advised me to visit it….

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Ah you’ve given the game away; I used to share a house with two Glaswegians so I’ve been called a numpty and the like manys a time :)

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While alistair cassidy’s original posting was half wind up, it’s unfortunate that he really believes that irish music is more simple than scottish music. We’ve been through neither is better, you just may prefer one or the other, but where does the perception that one is easier come from?

It struck me the other day that one of the biggest differences between the two is space. There is simply more space in irish music. Every nook and cranny of the scottish tunes are taken up by the tune, where as the actual skeletons of the irish tunes are open wide. And there is something very precise about scottish music. Precise timing and very well defined tune types. In scottish music, for example, you could never get into a situation like you often have in irish music where a lot of slides could easily be jigs.

So I understand alistair’s misconception. He mistakes greater precision for a higher art form. He also puts the greater popularity of Irish music down to the fact it’s easier. From what I’ve heard of the vast majority of people who play Irish music, it could well be that I agree with him here. To get to a certain standard in Irish music may well be easier than with the more strictly defined scotch stuff. However, what you do with the space in Irish music, how you control and use the freedom within it is where the true art of irish diddley lies.

It is unfortunate that alistair does not yet realize this. However, on the plus side, he is thinking about it, and he’s young.

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I agree with you Michael. This ‘better’ notion when it comes to anything musical is surely just a ‘crock’, especially the old favourite - better in a comhaltas competition!

I’m sure we’ve all been to competitions where nobody agrees with the judge’s final choice & they always seem to leave out many fine players from their final top 3.
I still think they should ‘Bin’ the competitions & just have the craic , at Fleadhs but enough of that.

As for Scottish & Irish Music, I am a Scot & was reared on Scots music but my first love would be Irish music.
However, regarding this notion of your’s of space, well to my ears, I find that it’s actually the Irish music that is just crammed full of ‘stuff’, dripping with ornamentation etc & no spaces to breath, wherease the Scottish music is full of lovely graceful ‘long notes’ & breathing spaces all over the place.

I agree that at one time time there was little space allowed within STM for individual expression & interpretation, but those days are going, & hopefully gone for good.

As for greater precision, I’m afraid I think they are pretty well matched on that front.
If you take some of the greatest fiddlers from both traditions, for arguments sake take Skinner & McGuire, you’d be hard pushed to squeeze a cigarette paper between the difference in their talent & expertise.
I certainly wouldn’t like to choose between them.

As for popularity being a guide, there are loads of musical forms in the western world, which are far more popular than either STM or ITM could ever hope to become, but that doesn’t, in my book, make either of these inferior.
By the same token, the notion that there are more folk playing ITM just now, doesn’t mean that it is a superior musical form.

At the end of all that M G, I don’t really think I am disagreeing with you here, so much as just seeing the same side of the coin, from a different angle - if that makes any sense?

They’re both brilliant in my book!

Oh yes, one wee gripe before I go. (well I am the Grouse after all!)
Alistair talks about trite tunes & singles out the poor old Egan’s Polka as an example.
This idea that a tune is rubbish really gets my goat!
How many of us, as we started out on this voyage of discovery in ITM, especially if we learned as youngsters, reached an almost orgasmic state when we found we could finally rattle off ye olde Kerry Polka?
Then, no sooner had we mastered it but we start to rubbish it. It is in fact a wonderful catchy little tune & has inspired countless numbers of youngsters to keep going & carry on to harder tunes.
I would ask anyone here, who poo poo’s this idea to write me a better little Polka, a completely original one, which is as easy to learn, as catchy & as easily remembered & is such an ideal tune for teaching beginners.
If anyone can do it, I’ll eat my ‘goat’!

Come on guys, there are very few ‘bad’ tunes out there, Scots or Irish, but there are plenty of bad players, with bad attitudes.

So as someone who has tried to write tunes & so far failed miserably, I say treat these tunes with a bit more respect, unless of course your up there with the Charlie Lennons of this world, in which case you can already write great tunes & I say - respect!

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Yes, the problem with this thread, seems to me to be that it’s not as Alistair says, just a wind-up. My impression was that it was, as Michael suggests, only a part wind-up.

Michael and Ptarmy have essentially the same bottom line as I do (any preferences aside). i.e. you can’t say that one tradition is in any way superior to the other. BOTH are mighty.

BTW Dick, I’ve heard some of your tunes - and there are some good ones there - when you gonna write some more?

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