I’ve shown the first part of this without triplets, and then with triplets, on that first phrase that gets played twice.
The G phrase in the second part should be familiar from many other reels. It’s worth taking the time to perfect this phrase. It’ll come in handy. It’s probably better to do the D to G jump on the banjo (and perhaps fiddle also) by blocking two strings with one finger rather than trying to quickly jump between strings and notes. It takes a bit of practice but it’s worth it.
The Swallows Tail
T: Swallow’s Tail, The
|:E3 G E~A,3 | EA,FA, [G3G,3] A | GEDB, DG, (3G,G,G, | (3B,A,G, B,D G2 FG |
~E3 G E~A,3 | EA,FA, G3 A | (3BdB GB AGED | EGDB, A,B,CD :|
|:EAAG AGED | B,DEF G3 A | GEDB, DG, (3G,G,G, | (3B,A,G, B,D G2 FG |
EAAG AGED | B,DEF G3 A | (3BdB GB AGED | EGDB, A,B,CD :|
|:e3 g eA (3AAA | eAfA g3 a | gedB dG (3GGG | (3BAG Bd g2 fg |
e3 g eA (3AAA | eAfA g3 a | bggb aged | (3efg dB ABcd :|
|:eaag aged | (3Bcd ef ~g3 a | gedB dG (3GGG | (3BAG Bd g2 fg |
eaag aged |(3Bcd ef ~g3 a | bggb aged | (3efg dB ABcd :|
This is a different tune, or at least a significantly different setting, than the other Swallows Tail reel already in the archives. Zina called it to my attention—it’s from Dervish’s latest cd, Spirit, and you can hear a short clip of it at www.dervish.ie (go to discography, then to Spirit, and click on the Swallows Tail track). Their liner notes say that it’s a Traveller version, known from the playing of the Keenans.
Dervish does this out of Eb (on an Eb flute, and with the fiddle tuned up a half step), so I’ve transcribed it here in E minor to keep the fingering standard (just tune up your fiddle, or get yourself an Eb flute or whistle).
On the cd, I like how the fiddle starts low and growly and then kicks it over the top by going up an octave.
Thanks for the transcription, Will! David Migoya is the one who first played the setting for me, and I just love the way it turns the phrases inside out from the more usual setting! If anybody talks to Paddy Keenan, ask if this is his dad’s setting or what, will ya? :)
Okay, okay, I defer to our fearless, quietly editorializing leader :o) I was hoping this was a different enough setting to warrant its own post, but I can understand including it here in the comments. If you want the dots for this, copy the abcs and plug them into the Tune-O-Tron over at http://www.concertina.net.
I think your setting deserves another page of it’s own. But we must defer to Jeremy as I realise there are reasons why two tunes of the same name can’t really have separate pages.
With Gan Ainm for example I would like to see each one given a unique identity with a number (e.g. Gan Ainm 223). Similarily this could be ST 2.
I don’t know how many times they play this on track 11 on the Dervish album but this setting really rocks and is very different from the other more well known Swallow. Not being a dancer I can only guess that this would be a really great dance tune - and hey isn’t that what this is all supposed to be about.
Here’s another setting of the Dervish version that I transcribed from a live performance. I never did catch the name at the time, so I’m glad to be able to hang a title on it now. The Dervish rendition rather reminded me of old time fiddling in some respects.
e2eg eA~A2|eAfA g2ga|gedB dG~G2|BGBd g2fg|!
egfg eA~A2|eAfA g3a|bagb aged|egdB A2Bd:||!
e2a2 aged|B/c/d ef g2ga|gedB dG~G2|BGBd g2fg|!
ea~a2 aged|B/c/d ef g3a|bagb aged|e/f/g dB A2Bd:||
Does anyone know the source of the A modal reel recorded by whistle player Siobhan Hamilton on the Innisfree Ceili Band cassette as Swallow’s Next (sic) and that also appears in Flaherty’s Trip to Sligo on p. 14 as Swallow’s Tail (from Colm O’Donnell’s playing)? This is clearly not the well-known Swallowtail Reel, to which it bears some similarity.
I can send a copy of the sheet music to anyone who wants to see it.
Re: Swallow’s Nest?
Dick, is it the one in the comments of the Swallowtail Reel in the archives? https://thesession.org/tunes/105 — not the one shown in the sheet music, but the one that Dervish plays, giving their source as the Keenan family.
I have the tune and play it and will email a copy of the sheet music to anyone who wants it; what I’m trying to learn is its source (e.g., composer, if it is a composed tune) and its earliest name, if anyone knows it. I don’t have the Dervish CD but if it’s later than 1990 it won’t help because both the recording I have and the Flaherty book are dated 1990.
Ah, I found the link to the 2003 Dervish SPIRIT CD and played the Swallow’s Tail cut, which is indeed the tune I’m referring to; now if anyone knows more about its history that would be very helpful.
You might try contacting Dervish, or in fact Paddy Keenan and asking him about it since Dervish says it’s a Traveller setting of the tune connected with the Keenan family, Dick.
Sure, but what’s a Traveller setting?
Travellers are the tinkers, the gypsies of Ireland. Some of their tunes and settings are different from what others might think of as "standard."
Dick, my best guess is that someone, probably ages ago, turned the Swallow’s Tail inside out a bit and people liked it well enough to keep playing it this way. I doubt you’ll ever track down who that was, although it would be worth an email to Paddy Keenan, or perhaps to Liam Kelly.
There’s quite a lot of ethnomusicologists who feel that the Travellers were the main reason the music wasn’t lost during the, um, occupied times. They weren’t just tinkers, they also worked a lot of jobs such as rag and bone men, carpenters, wagon builders, etc.
Paddy Keenan gave me a whole lot of info on the Travellers, or Pavee, as they call themselves, for an interview I did on him a few years back. http://www.celticcafe.com/Music/keenan/index.htm
Anyway, might be worth getting hold of Paddy, or Liam Kelly as Will suggests.
Pavee was the word I was looking for when I wrote tinker. My mind has been the traveller of late….
Well, at least it keeps you out of the cold and wind that way, Will… ;)
Actually it’s been cold and windy between my ears of late.
Can’t be as cold and windy as it has been here…brrrrr
I think I’ve heard a tune by the same name by Billy Pigg, a long-dead northumbrian song writer. Don’t know if its the same tune or not though.
Northumbrian piper Billy Pigg and the Swallow’s Tail reel
Billy Pigg was a player of the Northumbrian pipes who died, I think, in or around 1968. I believe he could also play the Highland pipes. But if he sang or indeed wrote any songs, he’s certainly not known for that. What puts him on the traditional music map is the fact that he learned and kept up the tradition of playing on the Northumbrian pipes when very few others were doing so, between the wars and just after; and that he developed an entirely personal, I imagine quite inimitable, style of playing: utterly lyrical, with incredible cascades of notes. It’s beautiful. Sometimes his recorded playing keeps time, but much of it is fairly arhythmic - a sort of musical stream of consciousness. There are recordings of his playing on various compilations but the classic album of his music is called "The Border Minstrel".
He plays "The Swallow’s Tail Reel" somewhere on this album. It’s the standard Irish version, the tune given in the sheet music at the top of this thread. He would have known it was Irish and I don’t believe it would have entered his mind to pass it off as one of his own. (Mind, he did write some pretty good tunes himself.)
Billy Pigg on the Northumbrian Pipes
Re. the above - "Runs" of notes is a better description of Billy Pigg’s style than "cascades", although it sounds more prosaic.
Here’s my transcription from a fiddler whose name I don’t remember. From The Late Session (RTÉ Radio).
T: The Swallow’s Tail
BEFE BEFE|FABc dedB|A2 (3FED ADFD|FABc dfed|
BEFE BEFE|FABc d2Bd|eBdB AFDE|(3FED (3AFD E2FA:||
Beef edBA|FABc dedB|A2 (3FED ADFD|FABc dfed|
Beef edBA|FAfA d2Bd|eBdB AFDE|(3FED (3AFD E2FA:||
“The Swallow’s Tail” / “The Swallowtail” ~ March it is! ~ march relatives:
"Shanghai Lil" ~ march
Key signature: Adorian
Submitted on August 3rd 2005 by LongNote.
"The Lougheil March"
Key signature: d minor & e minor in the ‘Comments’
Submitted on March 3rd 2007 by ceolachan.
Now, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Correction ~ "The Lougheil March" is also Dorian…
Key signature: G Dorian & A Dorian in the ‘Comments’… :-/
Thomas Keenan’s version on the album “Paddy Keenan”
Here is my take on Thomas’ version
T: The Swallow’s Tail
ed |BcBA BEE2 | BABc d3B| dBAF ADD2 | FDFA d2ed |
BcBA BEE2 | BABc d3B | edBA edBA | B2 AF E2 :||
GA |Beed e2dB| BABc d3B| dBAF ADD2 | FDFA d2ed |
Beed Beed | BABc d3B | edBA edBA | B2 AF E2 :||
Plays a killer version on "The Wynd You Know".
Ronan Browne ABC
T:The Swallow’s Tail
S:Ronan Browne - The Wynd You Know
|:eAcA eAcA | cd ef ge dB | G2BG dGBG | Bdef g2fg |
eAcA eAcA | cdef g2fg | afge dBGB | AcBG A2gf:|
|:e~a3 aged | (3Bcd ed gedB | G2BG dGBG | cdef g2fg |
e~a3 aged | (3Bcd ef g2fg | afge dBGB |1AcBG A2cd:|2AcBG A2fg|
I’d just learned this, described as a "lovely setting of The Swallow’s Tail" and then wondered if that’s what it was…?
That’s somewhat similar to Dervish’s version: https://thesession.org/tunes/105/comments#comment50619
Kevin Henry Version
T:Swallow’s Tail (Kevin Henry)
|:eA3 eA3|Bdef gedB|G2~G2 dG~G2|B/c/def g2fg|
| eAAA eAAA|B/c/def g2fg|af3 ge3 BABG A3 (gf):|
(afge fded BABG AAA(Bd)
|:ea3 ea3| edef gedB|G2~G2 DG3|B/c/def g2fg|
| ea3 aged|b/c/def g2fg|af3 ge3 BABG A3 (Bd):||
(afge fded BABG A3 (gf)
This tune is in the Gunn Book (Fermanagh 1865) as Miss Wright’s Reel
Fintan Vallely has a lot to say about this and cognate tunes in his 2008 book:
Tuned Out: Protestant Perceptions of Traditional Music.
(details at: http://homepage.eircom.net/~imusic/books.html)
Same name new tune
This is a significantly different version of the tune, one which Dervish plays on "Spirit." The Dervish version plays the tune through a couple of times one octave lower and then kicks up for the climactic section.
Someone already transcribed this version from the same source 5 years ago: https://thesession.org/tunes/105/comments#comment50619
And here’s a similar version in Edor: https://thesession.org/tunes/9408
Slainte— thanks for adding that. I posted this version it because, when I found the ABCs on another version, they
a) didn’t work— a piece of code was missing
b) are nmto helpful to those who do not read ABC; dots are better.
Edor sounds amazing…too bad nobody around here plays it in that key!
Cheers, Chris, for reminding me of Dervish’s version of this tune. I don’t have the band’s recording, but have wanted to learn their version after hearing it in sessions.
I recently found basically the same version of this tune on Paddy Keenan’s self-titled recording: https://thesession.org/recordings/display/444 It’s actually Paddy’s brother Thomas Keenan that plays it on the recording, and I suspect that’s Dervish’s source of the tune.
The Swallow’s Tail
A clip of a girl playing a very similar version: http://comhaltas.ie/music/detail/comhaltaslive_285_6_clodagh_holland
Billy Pigg’s version
Here is the version as played by Billy Pigg on the recording "The Border Minstrel". On the recording, the pipes are at concert G pitch.
T: Swallow’s Tail, The
fe|dG (3BAG dG (3BAG|dGBd f2ed|cF (3AGF cF (3AGF|cFAc fcAc|
dG (3BAG dG (3BAG|dGBd f2ef|gefd cAFA|B2G2 G2:|
|:(3def|g2gf d2dc|=Bcde f2ef|cfAf cfAf|F/G/A/B/ c/d/e f2ef|
g2gf d2dc|=Bcde f2ef|gefd cAFA|B2G2 G2:|]
Exhilarating version of this tune played at by Jean Carignan at about 3:56 of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABvik3ALR3A&feature=autoplay&list=PL2B0B1CD274C622C3&playnext=1
The version I just added is one we play based on a version by Julia Clifford and Dennis Clifford (Kerry Fiddles recording) but with a sharpened C on the b part we got from the playing of Brendan Malone of Dundalk.
Gaelic Storm also does this tune in Eb major which sounds great on pipes… tricky on the fiddle, though.
The tune starts at 2:18… I tried putting that in the you tube link, but it didn’t seem to work.
The Swallow’s Tail, X:11
From an old cylinder recording of piper Patsy Touhey. I also have a radio documentary on Johnny Doran, a famous travelling piper, and Martin Rochford plays Johnny’s setting of this tune on the pipes, which was much like Touhey’s or the Keenan family one, no surprise in the latter instance but perhaps a bit unexpected that Touhey’s would be akin to it as well.
It should be mentioned that the eAcA eAca type settings here are basically like those in O’Neill’s, and were the ones typically played in the old days. Melodeon player Michael Kennedy had a nice
The Swallow’s Tail, X:12
A version I learnt from piper Martin Nolan many years ago.
A tin whistle version here (close to X:8)
Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh
Also, THAT STRATHSPEY. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNsk9yHDjKg
The Swallow’s Tail, X:13
This is the basic setting found in Seamus Ennis’ tutor for uilleann pipes, "The Master’s Touch," edited by Wilbert Garvin and Robbie Hannan, published by Na Piobairi Uilleann in 1998. Ennis noted many grace notes and minor pauses between notes, which I have not tried to reproduce here; otherwise, his setting is rather simpler than most found here.
The Swallow’s Tail, X:15
Requested. Jules Bitter’s version.
The Swallow’s Tail, X:16
While there are clearly more than enough versions of this tune already posted here, I felt that at least one Scottish variant would be nice to add based on the one from this Tannahill Weavers set:
Flashmarket Close/MacArther/Colonel Fraser/The Swallow’s Tale (@3:12)
The notes are not precisely correct, but pretty close.
The Swallow’s Tail, X:17
Transcripted from the record "Rain na Feirste - Ceol agus amhráin" (first released as an LP in 1973 et now available on CD), track "Drowsy Maggie" (n° 16 on the CD, n°8 side 2 on the LP) played by Séamus & Dónal Ó Baoighill on fiddles. It’s the 1rst reel of the set which is: Drowsy Maggie / Heather Breathe / Swallow’s Tail.
The pitch is about one tone lower.
I’ve also transcript the whole set, see Drowsy Maggie (https://thesession.org/tunes/27), with another 3rd part in Bm, and Heather Breathe (https://thesession.org/tunes/411), with a variation on 1rst part with F naturals.
Re: The Swallow’s Tail
The Swallow’s Tail, X:17
Oooops : "Heather Breeze", and not "Breathe" !!! Sorry for the mistake
It would be nice to be able to update his own comments … ;-)
Re: The Swallow’s Tail
in your comments, I suppose that you mean Julia Clifford and "Denis Murphy" ?
Re: The Swallow’s Tail
Yes - not Dennis Clifford, I mixed up the names! The recording I was thinking about, Kerry Fiddles, featured Padraig O’Keefe, Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford.
Re: The Swallow’s Tail
actually, a mix in the other way would have been OK as they were brother and sister, so both "Murphy’s" :-D
I thought that was this recording, the L.P. "Kerry Fiddles" released by Topic in 1977, that you talked about:
I have another one released by Claddagh record in 1969, "The Star above the Garter" featuring Julia and Denis
The Swallow’s Tail, X:18
Taken from ‘A Fine Selection of Over 200 Irish Traditional Tunes for Sessions’, compiled by David Speers with a Forward by Matt Cranitch. This setting has the triplets in the first part twice, but as Jeremy showed in X:1, they can be played as quadruplets for variation.