"Big Dan O’Mahony" - hornpipe ~ the history bit, 1903 & 1907 and mistakes in the past
The transcription offered here is undoubtedly taken from O’Neill’s "Dance Music of Ireland", what with all the identical placements of ( & ), with the added addition of ^ on the Cs to attempt to force it as A Mixolydian, which it ain’t.
In the earliest edition of O’Neill’s where this shows, "Music of Ireland", they got the key wrong, but had some nice touches, like those D sharps. If it were as they had it in A Major, it’s pretty dire. However, in the next release for this one they dropped the D sharps but give the most sensible key signature for this particular melody, A Dorian. It does not ring true as a Mixolydian tune, sounding rather clumsy and clunky if played with with C sharps…
Here’s those two O’Neill takes on it, without making any changes. It seems that this transcription was taken from there and the idea of it being Mixolydian picked up, possibly, at "The Fiddler’s Companion" entry for it? Or from that awful attempt at ‘improving on’ the O’Neill collection done by Krassen (not recommended)? 😏
Wilfried Besse, accordion & lead vocal
Guilhem Cavaillé, fiddle
Jacob Fournel, tin & low whistles
Nicolas Besse, guitar
Sébastien Saunié, bass
Josselin Fournel, bodhran
Doolin’ (the band)~ Toulouse, France
Cool rendition (the last one), ceolachan! I’m a big fan of this playing around with accidentals. It’s a thing which is ofttimes done very nicely in O’Neill’s (in my opinion), if they only wouldn’t have destroyed so many tunes with wrong keys. No problem if you know the tunes of course, and many corrections can easily be guessed, but… I mean, if you are so narrow minded that everything has to be either major or minor, how do you come to transcribe a dorian tune as *major*??? Everybody would assume the mixolydian mode here! It’s such a pity!
Anyway, first time I hear about that revision by Krassen. Not recommended? Hm. Just found the discussion about it, I’ll have to read it now… 🙂
Re: Big Dan O’Mahony
The version I play, sourced from O’Neill, has three sharps in its key signature: F, C and G.
So it’s basically of in the key of E (couldn’t tell you which mode), but you could think of it starting with one bar in A. I find it plays fine like that and is a really quite beautiful tune.
In my head, I can hear a piper playing it gloriously like that — it works fine with an E drone throughout (although strictly speaking, harmonically, the first bar would be mildly jarring, and a classical music tutor would want a two-note E & A chord moving to a two-note E & B drone.)
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