The Steamboat jig

Also known as A Prayer Is Better Than A Tune, Bon Voyage, Monsieur Dumollet, Is Fear Paidir Na Port, Minion, The Minion, The Scotch Lancers, The Steamboat March, The Steamboat Quickstep, Uncle Jim, Uncle Jim’s, The Washington Quickstep March, The Washington Quickstep.

There are 24 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Steamboat appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Steamboat has been added to 4 tune sets.

The Steamboat has been added to 76 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Nine settings

X: 1
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
a2e c2A|Ace a2e|agf edc|Bed cBA|
a2e c2A|Ace a2e|agf edc|BcB A3:|
|:Ace ece|efe cBA|Ade f2f|fga e3|
Ace ece|efe cBA|agf edc|BcB A3:|
X: 2
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:a2e c2B|Ace a2a|agf edc|Bed cBA|
a2e c2B|Ace a2a|agf edc|1 cdB A2e:|2 cdB A2z||
|:Ace e2e|efe cBA|Adf f2f|fga e3|
Ace e2e|efe cBA|agf edc|edB A3:|
X: 3
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:g2 d B2 G def g3|gfe dcB ABc BAG|
g2 d B2 G def g3|gfe agd AB^c d3:|
B2 d dBd dBd B2 G|c2 e ece ece c2 A|
B2 d dBd dBd B2 G|gfe dcB AGF G3:|
X: 4
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:A|d2 A F2 E DFA d2 A|dcB AGF EAG FED|
d2 A F2 E DFA d2 A|dcB AGF AGE D2:|
|:G|F2 A ABA ABA FED|G2 B B2 ^A B2 A Bcd|
X: 5
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:d|g2 d B2 A GB/c/d g2 d|gfe dcB Adc BAG|
g2 d B3 GBd g3|gfe dcB dcA G2:|
|:D|GB/c/d d>ed d>ed B2 G|c2 G e>fe e2 e d2 c|
G2 B dd/d/d d>ed B2 G|gg/f/e dcB dcA G2:|
X: 6
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:a2 e c2 A Ace A2 e|agf edc Bed cBA|
a2 e c2 A Ace a2 e|agf edc BcB A3:|
|:Ace ece efe cBA|Ade f2 f fga e3|
Ace ece efe cBA|agf edc BcB A3:|
X: 7
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:A|d2 A F2 A dcB A2 A|dcB AGF EFG ABc|
d2 A F2 A dcB A2 A|d>cB A>GF GFE D2:|
|:E|F2 A A2 A ABA FED|G2 B B2 ^A B2 =A Bcd|
F2 A- A2 A A>BA FED|d>cB A>GF GFE D2:|
X: 8
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
e|a2ec2A|Ace a2a|agf edc|Bcd cBA|
a2ec2A|Ace a2a|agf edc|edB A2:|
|:B|c2 e efe|efe c2A|d2 f fga|fga f2 e|
c2e efe|efe c2e|agf edc|edB A2:|
X: 9
T: The Steamboat
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:g2d B2A|GBd ~g3|gfe dcB|AdA BAG|
g2d B2A|GBd ~g3|gfe dcB|1 ABA G2f:|2 ABA G2A||
|:B2d ded|ded B2G|c2e efe|efe d2A|
B2d ded|ded B2G|gfe dcB|1 ABA G2A:|2 ABA G2F||
EGD EGD|EGA ~B2A|dBA ~B2A|1 BGE E2D:|2 BGE E2f||

Thirty-seven comments

Found this lively jig in an old collection of New England fiddle music.

This tune is played as a standard 6/8 march for pipe bands in the Royal Scottish Band Association tutor book volume one.

1083 ~ “New England Fiddler’s Repertoire”

Randy Miller & Jack Perron

Page 21: “Steamboat Quickstep”

2003 Second Edition: “168 classic traditional contra dance melodies, from Batchelder’s Reel to Money Musk to Portland Fancy and beyond – the standard contra tunes in one source. The second edition of NEFR is produced with assistance from the Gadd/Merrill Fund of the Country Dance and Song Society. Edited by Robert Bley-Vroman and Randy Miller; introduction by Newt Tolman.”

~ also their publication:
“Irish Traditional Fiddle Music”

This is a popular tune in the Ottawa Valley. I’ve never seen it credited to anyone.
The B part is very like the N.F.L.D. tune ,
“Lots of Fish in Boniface Harbour”

? ~ ? ~ ? ~ very familiar ~ ! ~ ! ~ !

I know this one, but not by this name. I also know it in ‘D’… Here it is barred as a slide / single jig and as my brain is putting it together. It is late, so I’ll do a search later to see what I can find out about it. If it is so strongly lodged in my head there must be notes around here somewhere and someone must have taught it to me… For now, and for a bit of fun, here it is as it came, in a simple but interesting form. I stayed away from your transcript McMandolin after the first bar woke up the following, and then went back to see what was similar or different. Anyway, here it is:

M: 12/8
K: D Major
|: A |
d2 A F2 E DFA d2 A | dcB AGF EAG FED |
d2 A F2 E DFA d2 A | dcB AGF AGE D2 :|
|: G |
F2 A ABA ABA FED | G2 B B2 ^A B2 A Bcd |

I’ve done a quick search on site for similar ABC’s but so far nothing… I’m away for a spell but expect others will be able to shed some light on this one…

“The Kilfenora Jig” ~

~ also known as Paddy Murphy’s, Thomond Bridge, etc…
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on September 3rd 2002 by Mark Cordova.

Except this version has the A & B parts the other way around…

McMandolin ~ if it’s taken as a ‘duplication’ and goes “POOF!” ~ I’ve saved your ABC’s and comment and will transfer those to the comments of “The Kilfenora”…

You are right .Uncle Jim and Kilfenora are almost the same tune. Thanks.

The tune you’ve posted here is called “Is Fear Paidir Na Port” = “A Prayer Is Better Than A Tune”.
It was the Kilfenora Ceili Band who grafted this on to the 5-part “Kilfenora” jig. I first heard the tune with 7 parts played by Mick Moloney, on mandolin, on a “Johnstons” LP in the 1970s. Mick Moloney stated this on the record sleeve-notes. The same information is given if you look up “Kilfenora” jig at the “Fiddler’s Companion” website. Moloney thought the 2-part tune may originally have been Scottish, which would fit with it being played in certain areas of Canada.

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The Steamboat

This was doing the rounds of the folk dance scene some thirty odd years ago as ‘The Steamboat’ & considered to be Scottish by myself and others. I have it vertually note for note with this and refer to it as a single jig. I have it in a set with two other scottish jigs: ‘The Dukes dang ower his daddy’ & ‘Hills of Glenorchy’. A good steady set ideal for dancing to.

Posted by .

I play it in ‘G’ but acknowledge the fact that ‘A’ is possibly more natural. Unfortunately I have a D/G box.

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“The Steamboat Quickstep” ~ thanks gang

That is the name I first learned this tune as, and remember playing it high too, but not sure if that was A or G… I think we used to play it one key into the next, so probably G & D, but just guessing, and probably with other things in the set as well. I haven’t done that promised search yet, but having the name I knew it by will make that easier…

5-part & 7-part? ~ are you holding out on us Kenny? 😉

Very Interesting

I checked into the song “lots of Fish in Boniface Harbour” and found it was collected by E .Chreighton in Halifax N.S around 1950. This adds weight to the Scottish origins.
This is such a commonplace tune around here I’m surprised and greatly edified by all your learned comments.

“The Steamboat Quickstep” ~ the bits are coming together

We used to dance and play for the dance “Sackett’s Harbour”, a triple proper longways, and this was one of the tunes we played for it. Yes, and we played it in a decidedly old-time ‘single jig’ / ‘slide’ way, with that phrasing and roll to it.

“Prompter’s pocket instruction book”
by Prof. L.H. Elmwell
Boston, White-Smith Music Publishing Co., 1892

SUMMARY: This manual is devoted entirely to the art of calling figures for the quadrille and other dances. The book provides the figures for these dances and gives the calls:

“Steamboat Quickstep”:

A 1 - 4 ~ Forward and back six;
5 - 8 ~ Swing three-quarters around to the left;
AA 1 - 8 ~ First couple chasse across the set, back and cast off;
B 1 - 8 ~ Turn contra corners;
BB 1 - 4 ~ Forward and back six;
5 - 8 ~ Swing around to places.

Contra Dancers of Hawai’i

“While there is a reel named ‘Sackett’s Harbor’, the dance is seldom danced to that tune. The jig ‘Steamboat Quickstep’ (aka ‘Washington Quickstep’) is commonly used. In Hawai’i, we have sometimes danced to a medley, beginning with the jig and ending with the reel.”

“The Steamboat Quickstep” ~ G Major

“The Fiddler’s Tune-Book: Jigs & Quicksteps, Trips & Humours”
200 Traditional airs with chords edited by Peter Kennedy

Page 41, tune #174: “The Steamboat Quickstep” in G Major

“The Steamboat Quickstep” ~ G Major ~ you’re next Hetty 😉

K: G Major
|: d |
g2 d B2 A GB/c/d g2 d | gfe dcB Adc BAG |
g2 d B3 GBd g3 | gfe dcB dcA G2 :|
|: D |
GB/c/d d>ed d>ed B2 G | c2 G e>fe e2 e d2 c |
G2 B dd/d/d d>ed B2 G | gg/f/e dcB dcA G2 :|

Kilfenora jig

Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. What Mick Moloney played was the 5-part Kilfenora jig;

followed by the tune posted here, but in the key of “D”, making it a 7-part tune.

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“The Kilfenora Jig” ~ 1, 2, 3 (& order of parts ~ AABB / BBAA)

Thanks for the clarification Kenny, and making the link… Here’s the links to the old Kilfenora Ceili Band Set, alas, that album with this set on it has not yet been released in a digital form:

“The Kilfenora Jig” ~ 2-parts
#1-of-3 in The Kilfenora Ceili Band Set, 50’s
~ also known as “Kitty Lie Over”, “Paddy’s Return”, “Patsy McCann’s”.
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on September 3rd 2002 by Bannerman.

“The Kilfenora Jig” ~ 5-parts
#2-of-3 in Kilfenora Ceili Band Set, 50’s
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on September 4th 2002 by Bannerman.

“The Kilfenora Jig” ~ 2-parts BBAA
#3-of-3 in Kilfenora Ceili Band Set, 50’s
~ also known as “Paddy Murphy’s”, “The Steamboat Quickstep”, “Thomond Bridge”, “Uncle Jim’s Jig”, etc…
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on September 3rd 2002 by Mark Cordova.

I haven’t heard this album in a long time and would be curious to know if the 3rd tune is actually played in the order now common in the set, or BBAA, using the transcript here as AABB. As far as I know, aside from trasncriptions from that recording or influenced by it, the historical notations I’m familiar with, if memory serves me right, were as given here, starting on the high part:

K: D Major
|: A | d2 A F2 E ~

K: G Major
|: d | g2 d B2 A ~

K: A Major
|: e | a2 e c2 B ~

AABB / BBAA ~ both ways are now played and both ways obviously work…

“The Steamboat Quickstep” / “The Minion Jig” ~ rescued duplication

Key signature: G Major
Submitted on February 3rd 2008 by andy9876.
~ /tunes/8210

X: 4
T: Minion, The
T: Steamboat Quickstep, The
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Gmaj
|: g2 d B2 G | def g3 | gfe dcB | ABc BAG |
g2 d B2 G | def g3 | gfe agd | AB^c d3 :|
B2 d dBd | dBd B2 G | c2 e ece | ece c2 A |
B2 d dBd | dBd B2 G | gfe dcB | AGF G3 :|

“The Minion Jig”

Another tune from the Joshua Jackson manuscipts of 1798 (JMS 125). I was given a 1998 transcription of some of these tunes, published by the Yorkshire Dales Workshop and edited by Geoff and Liz Bowen and Robin and Rosalind Sheperd (ISBN: 1-897925-17-4). In the original manuscipt, the final note of each strain is written as a crotchet/quarter note - but the editors query this, and I’ve notated it as dotted.

# Posted on February 3rd 2008 by andy9876

Tunes, Songs & Dances from the 1798 Manuscript of Joshua Jackson’s:
North Yorkshire Cornmiller and Musician“
Geoff & Liz Bowen with Robin & Rosalind Shepherd
Yorkshire Dales Worskhops
ISBN: 1897-92517-4
ISBN 13: 978-1897-92517-1

A collection of tunes, dances and songs for all melody instruments from the 1798 manuscript of Joshua Jackson chosen and presented by Geoff & Liz Bowen and Robin & Rosalind Shepherd. Well known tunes which are readily available from other souces have been excluded except where Jackson has an interesting or local variant.

Here is the same transcription only given as M: 12/8, which I think gives better definition phrase-wise to this melody ~

X: 4
T: Minion, The
T: Steamboat Quickstep, The
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Gmaj
|: g2 d B2 G def g3 | gfe dcB ABc BAG |
g2 d B2 G def g3 | gfe agd AB^c d3 :|
B2 d dBd dBd B2 G | c2 e ece ece c2 A |
B2 d dBd dBd B2 G | gfe dcB AGF G3 :|

It’s a great slide (single jig)… 😎

The Steamboat Jig

There is an old Scottish song called “Tranent Wedding”. A setting of the song was sung by Tony Cuffe on an LP called “Fergusson’s Auld Reekie” in 1981 under the name “Duncan McCallipin” - Cuffe set the lyrics to a version of The Steamboat:-

It was at a wedding near Tranent,
Where scores an’ scores on fun were bent.
An’ to ride the broose wi’ full intent.
Was either nine or ten, jo !

Chorus: Then aff they a’ set galloping, galloping.
Legs an’ arms a walloping, walloping.
Shame take the hindmost, quo’ Duncan MCallipin
Laird o’ Jelly Ben, jo.

The Steamboat, X:2

Taken from ‘A Fine Selection of Over 200 Irish Traditional Tunes for Sessions’, compiled by David Speers with a Forward by Matt Cranitch. A few different twists and turns in this setting. I’m not positive how you define a quickstep as opposed to a jig - both being in 6/8 - but one feature seems to be long runs up and down the scale. This tune certainly fits that pattern.

Re: The Steamboat

This tune was a song composed around 1809 by Marc-Antoine-Madeleine Désaugiers in his vaudeville “Le départ pour Saint-Malo”. This song is known as “Bon voyage, Monsieur Dumollet !”. The tune was famous enough to be played all over Europe. In France, it is still a children song and it is also played among the “Bandas” , popular brass bands of the South-West French Gascony.

Re: The Steamboat

Where Yves Jean-Pierre ROBERT wrote “This tune was a song composed around…” read; ‘This tune was USED FOR a song composed…’ : there is no proof that Désaugiers composed the tune. It was pretty usual in those days to use trendy tunes to add your own words to (see Robbie Burns for the same period).
Indeed, Désaugiers wrote other songs who used popular dance tunes of the times, such as ‘La Rosière’ for his “Description of Paris at 5am”. Desaugiers spent time in Philadelphia before returning to Paris. He taught harpsichord there. He might have picked the tune there?
According to the comments above, the tune seems to be widespread still in the “contra” quarters..
However, as Y J-P ROBERT mentions, it is also very popular as a carnival tune. Not just in Southern France but in Belgium and the Netherlands as well.
Chantal Grosléziat (in Musiques et cultures, Spirale n° 12 - ed.Catherine-Juliet Delpy, 1999, p. 119.) quotes various other instances such as “l’air du Carnaval” which is fifed and sung ‘ad nauseum’ during the great Carnival of Dunkerque.
A culturally important ring dance (the “cråmignon” or “rei”) is danced through the streets to the same “air des Craminions” in the border regions of Wallonie and Limburg (around Liège). It is also known as La Daye and d’n Os according to a local source.
It is known as a march tune for the conscripts in Bresse (a border region East of Lyon) “Leu conchcrits” (the lyric was written by Prosper Convert). The Seychelles Islanders in the Indian ocean still remember many old songs from France and it is known there.
The tune appears in a ballet at the end of the 19th century (Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker; 1st part, Allegro, after the parents’ entrance).
And that is about all I care to report about this slide on this side of the main. There are many videos of “Le Carnaval de Dunkerque” on line if you are interested and just about all nursery song books printed before 1990/2000 in France included “Bon voyage Monsieur Dumollet” (Safe journey, Mister Shanks).

Re: The Steamboat

I have forgotten to say it is widely played as a tune for the “avant-deux” dance in the North-West of France (East-Brittany/Normandy/Maine regions) under various names such as ‘Avant-deux de Bazauges’ or ‘Fume ta pipe mon Napoléon’ (a rye ditty about the end of that particular Emperor)
In addition, I have heard it from Breton and Mallorcan pipers too and it can be heard in a slightly different version on the Asturian band DRD’s album Namái (first tune on ‘Ende’).

Re: The Steamboat

Footnotes to the Benelux connection: The Dunkerque carnival , as a true carnival (originally a merry introduction to the restrictions of Lent), takes place every year at the end of winter.
Many of today’s cramignons seem to take place in the autumn (I checked several videos on line but could not trace that particular tune: “D’n Os”… Many of todays bands seem to prefer 2/4 to 12/8 tunes anyhow).

Re: The Steamboat

Siobhan Miller breathes new life in the old chestnut. Maith thú!
-album released during the 1st lockdown… Adh mór!