“Frank Quinn’s Highland Fling”
A basic transcription first, then, still keeping it relatively basic, melodic, a transcription out of the box of Máirtín O’Connor’s…
Boston-born box player Colm Gannon recently recorded this tune as a fling version of Four Courts: https://thesession.org/tunes/2278
Yes, thanks slainte, I should have linked to there. In the notes for the CD "Skylark: Light and Shade", track 8, they have this sentence - "This tune is a version of ‘The Four Courts’." I was trying to chase up more information on it before adding the link. It’s also interesting that all the Cs are sharp in this one while the reel "The Four Courts" takes the bulk as natural. I was trying to find out something that might suggest which came first, the reel or the highland. A three part highland fling is rare. Most are two parters, 16 bars, which is in agreement with the dances, 16 bars, though there are also ‘short’ versions, 8 bars.
I’d love to see a transcription of how Colm Gannon takes it. 😉
I haven’t yet had the pleasure of that listen… On your word for it being played as a highland fling I’ve made the link between this transcription and the Colm Gannon’s recording "The Ewe With The Crooked Horn", track 9…
^c & =c ~ 1903 & 1907
In "O’Neill’s Music of Ireland", 1903, page 260, tune #1396, source patrolman John Ennis (flute & pipes), "The Four Courts" is given as having two sharps, F# & C#, while in O’Neill’s later collection, "The Dance Music of Ireland", 1907, page 115, tune #640, no attribution given, there’s only one sharp in the key signature of the relevant melody, F#. In both collections it is listed as a reel.
FQ just called it The Four Courts on his 78, FYI. He lilted about half of it - the lilting included whole barrages of single note triplets: (3AAA (3AAA|(3BBB (3BBB|(3AAA (3AAA|G2FG|etc. He didn’t play these on the box - could stab his finger that fast, presumably. Kimmel was an obvious influence and perhaps his index digit was lively enough but not Frank’s. No backing on Quinn’s disc aside from his mates hooting and doing a bit of bird whistles for some reason - did the old Fourt Courts have an aviary attached? This side can be heard on the Arhoolie reissue of Quinn’s recordings, "If You Are Irish."
Thanks Kevin, that’s one I would very much love to hear. I’ll have to see if the Arhoolie recording is still available.
O’Neill & the highland fling
It has always seemed odd to me that some tune forms and dances ~ highland flings/schottisches, barndances, mazurkas/varsoviennes, polkas, etc. ~ that were known, played and danced in America, including being common among the Irish, particularly in those many areas of high concentration ~ New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. ~ tunes played and dances danced, that O’Neill would pass over, neglect, ignore, or mis-file these tunes. Captain Francis O’Neill and his cohorts were based in one of the highest concentrations for Irish immigrants, Chicago. These tunes and dances would have been known, and across America would have been familiar from the 1800s forward. Was there an attitude about it that meant it was set aside and not considered ‘Irish’ among these Irish-Americans? Did the same political madness that lead to some choosing to outlaw the quadrilles as a ‘foreign influence’ have a similar effect on anything else that might be viewed as ‘outside’? As with other things, sometimes the shift from here to there ended up in, at times, some quite outrageous cultural exaggerations, stereotyping, and mythology, some of which still persists. One laughable one was the tale that the ceili dances, the official list, were many hundreds of years old.
There may have also been biases for and against with regards to where a given source originated, favouring some counties over others, and, of course, there would be a natural bias for ones own roots. So, possibly also from this, the traditions of areas like Sliabh Luachra, especially polkas, were neglected as being ‘European’ rather than ‘ancient Irish airs and dance tunes’.
It wouldn’t surprise me, like with the earliest recording of this one, it’s swing and phrasing, if this was originally a highland fling, and as with so many such tunes, as a good melody it was redirected into the flatter rhythm of a single reel, as has happened with others…
Just a thought…
Colm Gannon actually cites Frank Quinn as the source of this fling. His version is basically the same as Mairtin O’Connor’s, which you transcribed, ‘c’.
Frank Quinn’s Four Courts
Here ya go: https://www.box.com/s/50fe3qlr2nqztmve2u4e I shouldn’t tease interested parties like that. Well, you and the other guy. ;) Hi, other guy! Enjoy. "By golly that’s a great sir eh!"
O’Neill didn’t have much time for the other tune forms but then his first two books were so massive maybe he figured there just wasn’t room - would you print a polka, knowing you left out a perfectly good reel? So the must-haves, White Cockade and Mallow Rakes etc wound up in "Marches and Miscellaneous." Waifs and Strays was more all-inclusive, but then the title itself tells you this was a book of odd bits. Seems like his sources in that one were mostly old printed sources, too. Breathnach cataloged where his musicians hailed from, too, and, as I recall, few were from Donegal or Kerry, where these other forms were more to the fore, so that might explain the prejudice or imbalance.
I’ve always wondered about the labels on the old 78s too. Did Coleman really think of those tunes as "Highland Schottisches"? They must have had an A&R guy at each label who had a passing familiarity with the music.
Perhaps, not as experimental as what Frank Quinn does, but here’s Colm Gannon playing the fling version of "The Four Courts" backed by John Blake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1864LWPbO58
Kevin and slainte ~ Thanks a bunch.
The ‘highland fling/schottische’ was part of the dance book at Irish events, so they were well familiar with both the dance, 2-hand/couple & 3 and 3-hand versions, and the tune that drove it along and defined it. That focus on the few forms, even more so in the post WW II world ~ reels and reels and reels, and a few jigs ~ still survives among many, with the occasional opening for a slip jig or hornpipe. 😀
S: Frank Quinn, accordion, 2/4/1924, New York
Frank leads into this slowly, something akin to ~
d2 c2 B>B |\
"Frank Quinn: If You Are Irish" ~ track 17
The Four Courts Fling
The old video clip of Colm Gannon playing the tune is gone, but here’s a new one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEGHNFrs7zs
Stephen Grier MS c.1883 - “Cruise her in the Corner”
The earliest appearance of this tune thus far is in the Stephen Grier MS c.1883 of Gortletteragh, Co. Leitrim where it’s entitled "Cruise her in the Corner". Although Frank Quinn who recorded the tune in 1924 as "The Four Courts" came from Drumlish, a parish that borders Gortletteragh his version is different to Grier’s and probably derived from O’Neill’s version in DMOI (1907).