The Trip To Cartmel reel

Also known as Trip To Cartmell.

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

The Trip To Cartmel has been added to 9 tunebooks.

Download ABC

One setting

X: 1
T: The Trip To Cartmel
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:ceeg aeeg|fddf gfed|ceef/g/ aeeg|fdf/g/a/f/ e2 d2:|
|:cAAc BGGB|cAAg aeed|cAAc BGGB|cAAB c/d/d B2:|

Forty-five comments

Trip to Cartmel

Although it has 2 sharps, I think the key is actually A mixolydian.

If I had to harmonise it I would get
line 1
A A | D E(poss 7th) | A A | D E (again, poss 7th) :|
line 2
A G | A A | AG | A E :|

I am using Emajor or E7th, although the G in Amix is natural; the minor chord doesn’t do it for me.

So, I am thinking an “A” key.

If I needing a “chord” to finish this off (say at the end of a set) I would use an open 5th E/B (i.e. not committing to whether it should be a G sharp or G natural!)- resolution to an “A” chord doesn’t sound right to me.

I think the time signature is probably 2/2 or, more likely, half common time; is that available as an option on this site?.

All the best

Peter Jenkins

Half common time

I’ve looked it up! Half common time is available in abc as

All the best

Peter Jenkins

Trip to Cartmel

Could you tell us where you got this tune, Peter?

Origins and key

Initially from a local fiddler friend. I don’t know where he got it from. Out of laziness I tracked it using JC’s ABC tunefinder and edited it to reflect the version I had been given.

Of the ABCs I retrieved, one version is from the the Village Music Project (credits to Chris Partington); another cites the origins as the Browne Collection, Armitt Library, Ambleside.

The tune seems to be a variant of the High Road to Linton

Key: A mixolydian - yup

The tune is reflected in two recordings listed in this site - the notes for Pete Cooper’s recordng (with spelling “Cartmell”) attribute it to the Browne Family of Troutbeck, 1830s,

Oops Cross post!

Must admit, I’m hearing this tune as firmly in D, not Amix.

Nah, Amix

The abc on the VMP site is an accurate rendition of the manuscript version - the last bar is cAAB {cd}d2B2

This makes little sense in the playing, and neither does the abc currently here. My reading (and playing) would be cAAc {Bc}d2B2

It’s not, imo, a variant of High Road To Linton though they do have some notes in common.

Not how I hear it, Doc. It sits nicely in D. 🙂

There’s no way it’s D! The tonal centre is A, with 2 #s.

Nah. It’s D. Tell you what it seems like to me - kind of like the way Green Fields of America starts on a chord which isn’t the key it’s in. Starts on a C, but it’s in G. Well, this one starts on the dominant (A) but it’s in D.

Maybe just the way I’m hearing it. (Or you’re hearing it. 😉 )

Nah, this is SO Amix. I bet you 20 quid.

I don’t agree that those two tunes are both Amix for the same reason.

And the bet is meaningless. ’Cos, at the end of the day, I’d doubt whether there is truly a definitive answer.

BTW, I totally agree that yer other tune in in Amix. This one’s in D. 😀

The parts of this one end *in* D, not just on it. In fact, it keeps coming back round to a tonality of D. ’Tother one (which, as you know, I play) only has the last note as D because it’s a passing note on its way back to A.

The D at the end of the A-part is just in passing. The majority of the tune’s tonality is A. You can tell that because there are so many C#s which clash with D but not A. The C#s and Es outline a very strong A major triad. The Gs and Bs in the 2nd part outline a very strong G major chord suggesting a progression from tonic to subtonic and back, not a weak V to IV progression. Honestly, you bloody fiddle players!

I reckon the first and third bars (first part) are *on*, not in, the dominant chord of D, with the second and fourth bars firmly in D (the key the tune’s in 😉 ).

The second part is a little diversion away from that, and I’m going to skip over that because it doesn’t support my argument strongly enough. 🙂

…haha and also because the 2nd part establishes the tune more firmly in Amix for going back round into the 1st part 😉

No no no! It couldn’t be anything like that.

It’s in D. 🙂

If you’re so sure, you could get 20 quid out of this, Ben.



No, ’cause it’s in Amix 😀

Who’d be the arbiter? Bagsy it’s me. 😀

LOL that’d be right!



Posted .

Not that you’d be biased or anything. 🙂

Well I love A mix so yeah maybe I am biased.

How about you plat a D chord through this tune and see how crap it sounds?
Replace said D chord with an A chord with G chords and hear the improvement

Posted .

It would be daft to play a D chord throught the tune. Just like it would be daft to play an A chord throughout this tune. I don’t go that much for chordal accompaniment for trad tunes in any case - IMO it tends to straitjacket the tune, and force it to sound in a particular way, when the tune itself may be fraught with ambiguity, and often is.

But all that’s a whole ’nuther story. 🙂

i’m not suggesting you do that as a way of accompaniment!

it would just show you the root note of the tune, that’s all

Posted .

No, I don’t think it does. It just shows that either way sounds wrong. Doesn’t prove anything.

just do it and see

Posted .

I have. In my head. Which, honestly is the same as playing it aloud, for me. Better, since I can ‘hear’ both the tune and the chords, and play back from wherever.


Posted .


Just ask a guitarist what he/she would play to go with (I won’t say accompany) this tune. I would be surprised if I heard many D major chords.

I have put my ideas in my first post - see top of thread; but, hey, I’m a box player and I’ve got to do something with my left hand (now, keep it clean, chaps!).

All the best

Peter Jenkins

I’d put quite a few D chords in there, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I’d be playing Amix progressions (which is the mode of the tune) 🙂

Let’s see if we can get other people to join in the pointless argument

I don’t think there’s anything else to say about it, is there? It’s not a vote. I’m going to think what I think, and you’re going to think what you think. Which, of course, is the main reason that it’s pointless. Especially as I don’t think the chords that a guitarist might put with a tune is the determining factor in deciding what tonal centre or mode it’s in. Or any factor.

Yeah true. It’s just that what I think is correct lol

Sorry EB, but if you’re hearing this in D it’s no wonder that you don’t like chordal acompanyment. 🙂

Or accompaniment. Anybody seen that edit button?


Heh, heh, heh…

Yeah, for a progression, I get

|: A A7 | D G | A A7 | D A/G/ :|
|: A G | A A7 | A G | A D :|

A little old-timey, so maybe dropping the 7th, sus the D at the end, and definitely Amix.

E is a hard chord to ‘push’ when the melody is trying to resolve to D. Amix has to due with the nature of the progression.

As it ends on a D chord in one or both of the parts, it’s not one of the neat and clean ones that cycle like this and end on an A note and chord.

Amix, in this case, is a matter of convention and tends to result in more conventional chordal approaches.

S: / B: “English Fiddle Tunes: 99 Traditional Pieces for Violin”

Pete Cooper
Schott, ED 12758 (CD edition), 2006
ISBN: 978-1-902455-57-0

Page 32, tune #31: “Trip to Cartmell”

Crediting the original source…

I’m a bit late joining this pointlesss argument, but I am definitely a member of the A mixolydian school; the A bits sound like the ‘floor’, the D bits sound like a ‘ledge’. But I do suffer from earwax buildup.

The version posted here looks much like that which appears in ‘A Northern Lass - Traditional Dance Music of Northwest England’ - except for the last bar of the B-part, which I remember as | cAAB/2c/2 d2 B2 :| - but I might have misread it (I don’t own a copy of the book).

I first heard the tune from Eliza Carthy on ‘Heat, Light and Sound’. If my aural memory serves me correctly, her setting lacks the semiquaver passages and is, overall, a simpler version, something like this:

X: 1
T: Trip To Cartmel, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Amix
|: ceeg aeeg | fddf feed | ceeg aeeg | fddf f2ed :|
|: cAAc BGGB | cAAg aeed | cAAc BGGB | cABc d2 :|

Re: The Trip To Cartmel

Very entertaining reading this ten-year-old dispute! I also think of it in A mix - and I’m a fiddler!

It throws up such interesting considerations though. I can certainly hear /why/ someone would think of it as being in D, but myself would tend to think of the D as a point of repose rather than the goal of the tune.

Re: The Trip To Cartmel

I play also (french) bagpipes and I hear in my head a “A bass” drone while playing this tune on a whistle. So Amix certainly too. This tune can be played on a GHB, I suppose.
The explanation of the “dispute” is perhaps also the difference between “plagal” and “anthenticus” plainchant modes, and how we hear them now, but I don’t know much about them.
The “g” of the second bar of Part B can be also played as “^g” without altering the tune.

>think of the D as a point of repose rather than the goal of the tune.

So do I.