John Sweeney’s polka

John Sweeney’s has been added to 2 tune sets.

John Sweeney's has been added to 13 tunebooks.

Download ABC

One setting

X: 1
T: John Sweeney's
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:A>B AF|EF AB|c2 cB|AF FE|
A>B AF|EF AB|ce ec|BA A2:|
|:ce fe|ec BA|ce fe|ec B2|
ce fe|ec BA|c2 c>B|AF FE:|
# Added by Larke .

Fourteen comments

This tune comes from the Mealagh Valley in West Cork and leads nicely into the two Mealagh Valley polkas.

Posted by .

clearly in A major

Posted .

Yes, the tonal centre is indeed A.

It doesn’t resolve on that note though, and that’s why you’ve fooled into submitting it as an E Dorian tune.

Srictly speaking though, it’s not A Maj - it’s pentatonic tune - there is no D nat or G# within it.

However, within the context of this website, it needs to be submitted as an A Maj tune.

Looks like I’ve been caught out! You’ve pegged my reasoning exactly for listing it as E Dorian… Clearly I only just scraped by in Music Theory! So, not having enough postings under my belt to have much experience, is it possible to make corrections at this point?

Posted by .

Never mind! I worked it out. Thanks for setting me straight.

Posted by .

No problem, Larke - ’tis a pleasure to be of assistance!

It’s essentially a three-stage process to work out the key for abc coding purposes:

1) Determine the tonal centre (or key note). Often the last note of a tune, though not necessarily so - as in this case!

2) Work out the number of regularly-occurring sharps (or flats).

3) From (1) and (2) above, determine the mode.

Nice tune, BTW. Especially for me, as I like gapped-scale tunes and I’m also something of a polka aficionado … 😉

“Clearly I only just scraped by in Music Theory! “

You’re one up on me, there Larke - they didn’t even think I was good enough to be entered for the music exam …. 🙁

Mealagh Valley polkas ~ tell us more, please

But first, some notation conventions, echoing dot notation and music notation in general, grouping notes into their given meter, in this case M: 2/4, so two per bar. Instead of |EFAB| you show the meter by putting space between the two beats - EF AB… It also makes for an easier read of the ABC notation if there’s space either side of the bar line.

M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: A>B AF | EF AB | c2 cB | AF FE |
A>B AF | EF AB | ce ec | BA A2 :|
|: ce fe | ec BA | ce fe | ec B2 |
cefe | ec BA|c2 c>B | AF FE :|

But, back to what’s important, having made the Mealagh Valley home for a spell, who, or where, did you pick up these Mealagh Valley polkas from, and is there a composer? Give us more of the background on these tunes, if you can.

What are the other two Mealagh Valley polkas? You could add their links here if they’re already in the database…

Ce fe | ec BA | c2 c>B | AF FE :|

Oops! That got past me, but it’s late, and I forgot to mention the convention of 4-bar lines, likes so, and corrected for my oversights.


Here’s the links to the two Mealagh Valley polkas I mentioned:

I appreciate the advice on the notation conventions, ceolachan. I suppose tis the editor coming out in me - one space vs. two - but I will adjust accordingly. That and the four bar spacing (which I usually do for myself) certainly do make it easier on the eye, and, therefore, to read.

The three tunes were handed to me on a single sheet by Roger, an Englishman living up past Glengariff for a decade or two or three now. He comes down to the Ballydehob sessions and offered the page as a sort of exchange for delivering him a requested sheet of dots for a set I play. That’s all I know for now. I noticed, ceolachan, that you queried Conway on the two links above, with no satisfaction. I will follow up next time I see Roger, to see what he can tell me, if anything.

Posted by .

Thanks for the additional information Larke, much appreciated…

West Cork Tunes

hey Larke and ceolachan, lived in kealkill and coomhola for a while, a few years ago, danced the wren balls, never paid much attention to tunes names. now I’m picking a few tunes on the whistle and wonderring if you could suggest some west cork tunes that i could look up. Thanks.

I’m sure we can recommend some recordings. What’s your main interest? What’s your instrument? Check out the Sliabh Luachra recordings listed here, and the links in the comments, for example ~

CD: The Rushy Mountain: Classic Music From Sliabh Luachra 1952-77

I’m still trying to work out what tunes are particular to the West Cork area myself. Matt Cranitch’s “The Irish Fiddle Book” was recommended to me, and a number of his tunes are played at least at my local session, but I don’t know that they are WEST Cork tunes, necessarily. Seamus Creagh’s CD “Tunes for Practice” was also recommended. He spent a good deal of his life in West Cork, but not all, so, again, how particular his tunes are to the area I’m not yet certain. If I ever get a handle on it, I let you know more!

Posted by .