Rocking The Cradle jig

Also known as Rocking The Baby.

There are 5 recordings of this tune.

Rocking The Cradle has been added to 4 tune sets.

Rocking The Cradle has been added to 26 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: Rocking The Cradle
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:cee dee|cee dcB|cee dec|(3AAA A cBA|
cee dee|cee dcB|(3AAA c BcB|A (3cBA AAA:|
|:acc ecc|acc dcB|acc ecc|(3AAA A cBA|
acc ecc|acc dcB|(3AAA c BcB|A (3cBA AAA:|

Eighteen comments

Rocking the Cradle

Different to tune of same name posted earlier.
This onre attributed to Allan MacDonald

T:Rocking the Baby
K: Amix
e | cee dee | cee dcB | cee dee | A2A cBA |
cee dee | cee dcB | A2c B2c | A2A A2 :|
e | acc ecc | acc ecc | acc ecc | A2A cBA |
acc ecc | acc ecc | A2c B2c | A2A A2 :|

Thinking a little the key should be A major, despite the pipieness, as it has no G’s.

For me the fun of this tune is all in the pickiness and slight variations there of, the contrast between crotchet and quaver, tripling the crochets results in flattening the tune out, which doesn’t work for me……

This tune has no Fs either, which makes it pentatonic, not major. Any chordal accompaniment should reflect that.

Thats true Weejie, good point.


Clearly A major, it has a limited range but is not really pentatonic, simply never reaches the 6th and 7th degrees.

It’s pentatonic because it contains only five notes per octave in its entirety. It actually spans a complete octave, so saying that it doesn’t “reach” the 6th and 7th degrees is incorrect. It just hasn’t got them. If you try and analyse it using the presumption of a classical scale, then you might take the “missing” degrees of the scale as implied (though the 7th degree could just as easily be a G natural - it is pipe music, after all). The 6th and 7th degrees, in reality, don’t exist. Pentatonic. Guilty as charged.

I should say it spans a whole octave - it’s as complete as you make it, which is complete as a pentatonic tune IMO.
Some Indian and Chinese tunes use this “scale”. I believe.
Harmony isn’t really the consideration - it’s melodically structured.

Here’s how I’d grace it up a bit, now that I’ve learned how to do it, from looking at one of ceolachan’s abc 🙂

T:Rocking the Baby (with a little gracing)
e | cee dee | cee dcB | cee dee | A2A c>BA |
cee dee | cee dcB | A2c B2c | A>>AA A2 :|
e | acc ecc | acc ecc | acc ecc | A2A c>BA |
acc ecc | acc ecc | A2c B2c | A>>AA A2 :|

Mmm? That must be the same “pentatonic” scale that we hear in “The Grand Old Duke of York” and the chorus of “Jingle Bells”. Never did think they were major!

The Grand Old Duke of York is hexatonic and although the chorus of Jingle Bells is pentatonic, the verse contains the 6th and 7th degrees of the scale, clearly establishing a heptatonic major scale. Pierpoint composed Jingle Bells as ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’, originally, and the chorus was different - nevertheless, it was published as a polyphonic piece with chord progressions. Unlike the tune here, Jingle Bells was considered harmonically from the beginning (as you’d expect when the composer was an organist). If you think about pipe tunes in the same manner, then you are off track. It’s not what its about.
Both the A major scale and the A mixolydian scale have the third degree a major third from the tonic and the fifth degree is perfect. They differ only in the seventh degree of the scale.
Without that seventh, you could not say that the tune was in A mixolydian or A major - the lack of the sixth as well should tell you that it is not in a major scale but a pentatonic scale (any scale that uses only five notes is pentatonic - it is not dependent on particular notes - though it can be categorised further, depending on those notes). Even though the major third and perfect fifth from the tonic are present in this tune, there are only five notes. Moreover, that major third and perfect fifth from the tonic are also present in the mixolydian modal scale. How can you say that this tune is therefore in A major?


Does it sound pentatonic - no it sounds like A major.
Does it sound mixolydian - no, it sounds A major. There you have it.

“Does it sound pentatonic?” Yes. I can hear only five notes if I play it. Perhaps you mean one of the gapped pentatonic scales (not like this, which is hemitonic with nothing between the fifth and the tonic)? They are not the only pentatonic scales.

“Does it sound mixolydian ?” No.

“it sounds A major. ” Why? Without a leading note I don’t see how you came to that conclusion. ‘ A’ mixolydian has a major feel to it (because the third from the tonic is major - it is effectively a ‘major mode’). Without the leading note, a semitone from the tonic, it doesn’t sound “A major” to me. All the notes of the A major triad or chord are there - as they would be if it was in A mixolydian or A major. This tune has no 7th degree (leading note), so it is neither in A major nor A mixolydian. It has no 6th either, so it is pentatonic by definition. The third from the tonic is major, so it has a major feel.but it’s not even the scale that’s commonly called “major pentatonic”.

If you start applying chord accompaniment as if it is in A major, you will be one of those people who give accompanists a bad name in trad music.

There you have it.

“recordings of a tune of this name”
In the case of John Doherty and Danny Meehan, this is not the same tune. The tune they play is a jig version of the song air ‘Rocking the Cradle’

Re: Rocking The Cradle

Allan MacDonald tells me the tune is a traditional pipe tune and not one of his compositions

Not to dredge up controversy from years ago, but…

Any five notes used as a scale may be called *a* pentatonic scale. By that definition this tune fits.


What most people talk about as *the* pentatonic scale uses specific five notes that are always related to each other in the same way:
first note, whole step above first note, major third above first note, perfect fifth above first, & major sixth above first note

If you compare these notes to the Ionic/Major Mode/Scale, it’s like using only Do, Re, Mi, So & La, or the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th degrees. But part of the beauty of the pentatonic scale is it doesn’t have any half-steps, so any note can feel equally “settled” and function as the “home” tone. That means it doesn’t force us to hear any specific mode or scale.

Look at Spootiskerry for a pentatonic tune (the way I play it) that is easily comparable to major/ionic tonality:

X: 3
T: Spootiskerry
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2DE GDEG|DEGA B4|g2ed edB2|dBAB G4:|g2ed edB2|
BABG E2DE|GABd eged|B2A2 A4|g2ed edB2|BABG E2DE|
GABd eged|B2G2 G4|g2ed edB2|BABG E2DE|GABd eged|
B2A2 AcBA|G2DE GDEG|DEGA B4|g2ed edB2|dBAB G4||

You get G (Do), A (Re), B (Mi), D (So), and E (La).

What makes “Rocking the Cradle” either Major or mixolydian is the half-step relation between C# and D. Our ear clearly hears G as tonic, which makes C# and D sound like the 3rd and 4th degree of a scale. The only modes with a high 3rd degree and a low 4th degree are the major and mixolydian. Without a 7th scale degree, we are left to imagine either a G-natural or a G# in our harmonization.

Hope that clears it up for Weejie and/or other readers…

This one has to be related somehow

X: 21
T:Fox Hunter. JBa.20
T:Balby a Rieving? JBa.20
T:Buckle My Shoe,aka. JBa.20
S:Joseph Barnes MS,Carlisle,1762.
N:Key signature shown as F sharp in lowest space and a second sharp in
N:the top space the figure 6 is then written - old style of writing
N:Balby a Rieving is a very uncertain attempt to decypher what appears to
N:be an alternative title in a different hand.
H:See Paul’s notes elsewhere.
K:D major
“See Note re key/time sig”def g2e | faf f2e | dBB B2A | dBB B3 | !
def g2e | faf g2e | cAA A2B | cAA A3 ||!
agf gfe | fgf f2e | dBB B2A | dBB B3 |!
agf gfe | fag f2e | cAA A2B| cAA A3 ||

Re: Rocking The Cradle

The Wicked Tinkers do a version of this as the third tune in their set entitled “Colkitto’s Jigs.” Pretty sure it’s a Scottish tune as the only time I ever heard it in a session from from a brilliant Scottish fiddler who was (is?) local to our area.