Tommy People’s Quarter Tone jig

Also known as Julia Devine’s.

There are 4 recordings of this tune.

Tommy People's Quarter Tone has been added to 14 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: Tommy People's Quarter Tone
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
"slide"Bee B/c/d B|AFD {E}DFA|Bef ~g2a| {f}e3||
B/c/d f dBA|FdF EDB,|D3 dBA|FEE E3||
~B2 e B/c/d B|AFD DFA|~B2e ~g2B| [e3B3]||
B/c/d f dBA|FdF {EF}EDB,|D3 "slide"dBA|FEE E3||
~B2 A Bed|~B2 E EFD|~E2 F EFA| e3||
b^ge dBA|{Bc}BAF {EF}EDB,|D3 dBA|FEE E3||
~B2 A ~B2 A|{c}BEE {F}EFD|~E2 F EFA|~B2 .g||
b^ge "slide"dBA|{c}BAF {EF}EDB,|D3 dBA|{FG}FEE [E2B,2] F||
~G3 ~B2 A|DGB "slide"dBG|[A3F3] ~c2 B|~c2 b agf||
gdc ~B2 c|dgd "slide"B3|~c3 ~d3|{B}c2 e BGE||
~G3 ~B2 A|DGB dBG|[A3F3] ~c2 B|~c2 b agf||
gdc ~B2 c|dgd "slide"B2 A|GBd {B}c2 e|BGE E3||
e2 b b^ge|"slide"dBG GAB|{cB}c2 B cde|~a3|| {^ga}^gfe|{Bc}BAG dBG|cec ~d3|{B}c2 e BGE|| b^ge|dBG GAB|{B}c2 B cde|~a3|| {^ga}^gfe|{Bc}BAG dBG|ced {B}c2 A|BGE {F}E3||
# Added by iTrad .

Nine comments

Here’s my original .abc with all the headers intact -

X: 1
T: Tommy People’s Quarter Tone Jig: Staccato symbol for sharpen a 1/4 tone
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: Jig
K: Gmaj
Z:George Grasso - February 2011
S:Tommy Peoples concert at the Crane Bar - Galway, Ireland 2006
+slide+Bee B/c/d B | AFD {E}DFA | Bef ~g2a | {f}e3 ||
B/c/d f dBA | FdF EDB, | D3 dBA | FEE E3 |]
[| ~B2 e B/c/d B | AFD DFA | ~B2e ~g2B | [e3B3] ||
B/c/d f dBA | FdF {EF}EDB, | D3 +slide+dBA | FEE E3 |]
[| ~B2 A Bed | ~B2 E EFD | ~E2 F EFA | e3 ||
b^ge dBA | {Bc}BAF {EF}EDB, | D3 dBA | FEE E3 |]
[| ~B2 A ~B2 A | {c}BEE {F}EFD | ~E2 F EFA | ~B2 .g ||
b^ge +slide+dBA | {c}BAF {EF}EDB, | D3 dBA | {FG}FEE [E2B,2] F |]
[| ~G3 ~B2 A | DGB +slide+dBG | [A3F3] ~c2 B | ~c2 b agf ||
gdc ~B2 c | dgd +slide+B3 | ~c3 ~d3 | {B}c2 e BGE |]
[| ~G3 ~B2 A | DGB dBG | [A3F3] ~c2 B | ~c2 b agf ||
gdc ~B2 c | dgd +slide+B2 A| GBd {B}c2 e | BGE E3 |]
[| e2 b b^ge | +slide+dBG GAB | {cB}c2 B cde | ~a3 || {^ga}^gfe | {Bc}BAG dBG | cec ~d3 | {B}c2 e BGE |]
[| b^ge | dBG GAB | {B}c2 B cde | ~a3 || {^ga}^gfe | {Bc}BAG dBG | ced {B}c2 A | BGE {F}E3 |]

Posted by .

A few questions….

Let me preface said questions by thanking you for transcribing a new (to my ears, anyway) tune from one of my absolute favorite traditional musicians. I’ve transcribed a few of his tunes myself, and it’s like trying to hit a moving target, to be sure! Since I don’t have a recording of that concert at The Crane, I have to ask; you are aware that Tommy’s playing is consistently sharp in the upper register, yes? I’ve always considered that to be a regular feature of his fiddling. Upon analyzing your transcription, I immediately noticed that almost all the high "g" notes have been given your 1/4 tone marker, with the exception of the ones in measures 3&11 (both rolled g’s) and measures 36-38 & 44-46 (plain g’s). Does it really sound like he is sharpening those notes more than he usually does (& deliberately)? Or perhaps he was having some tuning issues because of the sound reinforcement or his instrument. Again, I must take you at your word, (since I don’t have the recording to reference) but you’ve certainly piqued my curiosity! I look forward to whatever light you could shed on this- and thanks again!

Attempted answers …

Let’s see …

He was about a half step + another 15 cents sharp overall, so I started by lowering him down to concert pitch.

At first I thought the raised Gs were out of tune G#s, but they were consistant in the spots they showed up and definitely right in the middle pitch wise.

I think I’ve got an accurate transcription throughout, I’ll link what I transcribed below, it’s the 1st time through the tune. See what you think?


Moved down a 1/2 step plus another 15 cents -
.mp3 -
.mp3 50% -

Posted by .


Yeah, I don’t know if you listen to Tommy’s playing a lot, but he does this ALL THE TIME. His intonation is consistently always like that, it’s not something he’s doing on purpose or for effect. Don’t get me wrong, the transcription is dead-on, but I think you may have over-analyzed it a bit. I found the g’s "close enough" that most people wouldn’t be mistaking them for g#’s. Thanks for the mp3’s, that helped clarify things immensely. And keep the tunes coming; it’s nice to see somebody taking the time to actually do a note-for-note transcription for a change…good stuff!

I remember hearing those in between notes used to be more a part of Irish music. That they started disappearing do to instruments with fixed scales …

Let’s see just a few thoughts from me:

I’m skeptical of dismissing it as poor intonation because ,

It only happens on one note in one octave/position
Occurs over and over in the same spots in the tune
There are no other tuning issues going on

For me I’d error on the side of he knows exactly what he’s doing. To my ear they are not close enough to be played along side a "G" or a "G#".

But you could very well be right! I haven’t listened to my Tommy Peoples albums in a good while and if they’re anything like this tune I didn’t catch the quarter tones until I sat down to transcribe/learn the tune.

I think most people who play the tune will replace the funny Gs with regular ones anyway so it’s a bit of a moot point. Even so it wouldn’t feel right to transcribe the performance without trying to account for them, it’s really a cool sound.

Glad you like the transcription, I enjoy doing them.

Posted by .

Tommy People’s Quarter Tone Jig

I do it all the time, as the conductor of my chamber orchestra keeps pointing out 🙂

However, Pete Cooper, in his book "Irish Fiddle Solos", gives some examples - "The Pullet and the Cock", on this website’s database is one. Pete says in the preface to his book
"Many older players pitch certain notes of the scale, the third and sixth especially, as quarter-tones between the natural and the sharp. Such ‘lonesome’ notes, which may sound ‘out of tune’ to anyone familiar only with equal temperament, are indicated with an arrow (up or down) above the stave, and are a valuable expressive resource."

There are a few examples in the Roche Collection, where the quarter tone is shown by an asterisk above the note. An example is the c-nat in the last bar of "Over the Bridge to Peggy" (not the O’Neill version), which is also in the tune database.

Hmmm….Double A-ha!

I didn’t mean to imply that Tommy Peoples has intonation issues, far from it. Your thoughts in your 2nd post have actually given me pause! I now believe that you’re absolutely right, he knows exactly what he’s doing & does it to acheive an effect. Whether or not he is conscious of it, who knows; but upon going back through my recordings of him, he does it so often that I get the sense it’s an "auto pilot" thing. The more I listened to what he was doing, I came to realize that these "funny notes" are precisely what attracted me to his music in the first place! Folks have often said that "you can hear the turf in his playing". I believe that these notes are a big part of what generates that impression. Thanks for changing my mind on this one, iTrad - it’s much appreciated!

Good one itrad. A worthy attempt to try to transcribe traditional music. If only 98% of the people trying to play this stuff would listen as closely as you and drop their freakin standardized western theory.

The version of this tune in Tommy’s book (which you should buy instead of nicking his tunes from the internet) is titled Julia Devine’s. It is named after Tommy’s grand-aunt. I’ve done an edit to add this title.