The Donegal Lass jig

Also known as Donegal Lasses, The Donegal Lasses, The Donegal Lassies.

There are 10 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Donegal Lass has been added to 6 tune sets.

The Donegal Lass has been added to 238 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Three settings

X: 1
T: The Donegal Lass
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
Ace aed|edB A3|GBd G3|FAd F3|
Ace aed|cdB A2a|aed cdB|ABG A3:|
GBd G3|FAd F3|e2e ecA|e2e ecA|
GBd G3|FAd F2a|aed cdB|ABG A3:|
X: 2
T: The Donegal Lass
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:Ac/d/e aed|cdB ~A2 A|GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f3|
Ac/d/e aed|cdB A2 a|aed cdB|ABG ~A2 A:|
|:GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f2 f|~e2 e ecA|c/d/ec dBA|
GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f2 f|aed cdB|ABG ~A2 A:|
X: 3
T: The Donegal Lass
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
[|:Acd2e2 a2e2d2|c3dB2 A4F2|G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 F6|
Acd2e2 a2e2d2|c3dB2 A6|a2z2ed c2d2A2|B2A2G2 A6:|]
[|:G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 F6|e4e2 e2c2A2|e4c2 d2c2A2|
G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 f4a2|a2z2ed c2d2A2|B2A2G2 A6:|]

Fifteen comments

The Donegal Lass

A lively jig from Brian Finnegan,flute player from Armagh.Kathryn Tickell plays it on her "Signs" cd.

Tune’s in A

..with G’s natural in 3rd, 9th and 13th bars. Not Dmaj. :-)

…or Amix

Since there are more Gnats than G#s, it might be better to say it’s in Amix, with G#s in bars 8 and 16. Amix is just a mode of D major, so lefthander wasn’t wrong about the key.

Just a Minute—

First, by an unqualified "A" I do mean some mode of A or other, not necessarily Amaj—but Amaj definitely could be used except for the 3rd and fourth bars in the A part.

Second, Amix is not a mode of Dmaj. The chords that work with the tune tell you what mode you’re in. If you told an accompaniest "D major" when you went into this tune, it would sound way wrong. I don’t see any way this tune could be called Dmaj :-)

Okay,
1) I was quoting Amix as an *alternative* to Amaj for writing this tune in sheetmusic format. (By the way I think it would be more suitable to write it in Amix, if only because it involves writing less accidentals in, but it really doesn’t matter - A’s fine too).
2) The accepted terminology is that if you say "unqualified A", you mean "A major" - that’s just a musical fact.
3) Amix *is* a mode of the D major scale - actually the 5th mode. It is the same key signature (2#’s) and is therefore more closely related to D major than it is to A major, which is a completely different key with 3#’s.
4) The chords that work with Amix tunes are exactly the same chords as work with D major tunes (A, Bm, D, Em, F#m, G) it’s just that a guitarist would use them in a different order. In a D major tune, 99% of the time you’ll start on a chord of D. In an Amix tune, 99% of the time you’ll start on a chord of A.
5) The chords that work for Amaj tunes are a similar but different set (A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m).

"Key" is a different thing from "mode". Key has to do with how many sharps or flats you’ve got in the key signature. Modes have to do with what chord you start on.

Dow

Okay on your 1 and 2.

Still disagree about the rest tho. Right, so a tune in Amix will share some chords in common with a tune in Dmaj. I suppose they’re related in some technical sense (it is the "5th mode")—i don’t know. I don’t see how that makes this tune Dmaj rather than A or Amix.Amix also shares the same notes (as you point out—two sharps) with Dmaj, but that doesn’t make it Dmaj.

I still say that if you tell your guitar or piano player "D!" when you play this tune, they’ll get it all wrong. That sounds like good enough reason to say this tune is definitely not in D. You sound like you know your music theory—the facts you present don’t seem to me to make a D tune out of this, however. Not meaning to be contentious here, just knowing what i hear, and I stand by my correction.

:-) There’s no point in going on at length about this, because I’ve basically agreed with you all along. My first post was an addition to your post and not a contradiction of it. But to continue what’s become a discussion-ette of sorts, I’ll just clarify what I meant about my last 3 points:

First of all, I’ve never said that it would be okay to shout "D major" to the guitarist. That would be the *right key* (2#’s), but the *wrong mode*. If you’re going to call anything, it would be "A", of course, because that’s you’re first chord, and the fundamental of your mode (which is Amix). However, it is a bit misleading to tell the guitarist beforehand that "this tune is in A major", because he or she would start using chords of A, D and E, which would be the wrong key. You’d want your main chords to be A, D and G or Em - which are the main chords you’d use to back Amix tunes. If you put these in a different order with the D first - you get D, G, Em and A. It’s no coincidence that these are the chords you’d use to back D major tunes, because Amix and Dmaj are the same key. Key is about how many sharps or flats are in the scale. It has nothing to do with letters of the alphabet.

So you’re right to say that if you shout "D", the backer will get it all wrong. But my point is that (s)he’ll be playing the right chords, but in the wrong order. When this problem crops up and people post tunes in the right key but the wrong mode, Jeremy tends to leave it be because it’s the number of sharps and flats that’s the important thing. The modes within each key are often interchangeable and ambiguous (not in this case tho’).

Also, you said ‘by an unqualified "A" I do mean some mode of A or other’. The whole point to what I’m saying is that Amix is *not* a mode of A, it just so happens that both scales start on the same note. I’m going to stop now because I know that some people on this site hate it when people go on about theory. I don’t want to make myself unpopular :-/

The Donegal Lass

This was apparently Brian Finnegan’s first tune, and it’s excellent, in my opinion. I first learnt it at a session in Edinburgh, and I didn’t know anything about it - afterwards I found out it was written by Brian (of Flook fame). A little later, Brian and I were fellow tutors on a day of workshops in Edinburgh, and I told him that I taught the tune in many of my classes; he was quite pleased and interested, and went off wit one of my hand-out sheets.

The day ended with a tutors’ concert, and we did seperate acts - me with my guitarist, Brian with Sarah Allan, and Amy Geddes with Sandy Wright. We finished off by all coming onto the stage and doing - not "The Donegal Lass" - two or three reels. I can’t remember what they were, although I think the last one was "Cooley’s". An absolute thrill for me.

Slightly different version

transcribed from the flute-playing of a friend of mine.


X: 1
T: The Donegal Lass
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Amix
|:Ac/d/e aed|cdB ~A2 A|GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f3|
Ac/d/e aed|cdB A2 a|aed cdB|ABG ~A2 A:|
|:GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f2 f|~e2 e ecA|c/d/ec dBA|
GBd ~G2 G|FAd ~f2 f|aed cdB|ABG ~A2 A:|

Another version

transcribed from a Kathryn Tickell recording, transposed to A(mix). The dotted notes are a bit of an exaggaration…
X:1
T:Donegal Lasses
M:4/4
L:1/16
R:jig
K:Amix
[|:Acd2e2 a2e2d2|c3dB2 A4F2|G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 F6|
Acd2e2 a2e2d2|c3dB2 A6|a2z2ed c2d2A2|B2A2G2 A6:|]
[|:G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 F6|e4e2 e2c2A2|e4c2 d2c2A2|
G2Bcd2 G2Bcd2|F2Acd2 f4a2|a2z2ed c2d2A2|B2A2G2 A6:|]

About the key

The key of the tune is Amix, there is no doubt about it. And there is also no reason not to say to the guitar and/or b’zouki player that the key is Amix.

It is part of their job to know the meaning of the key/mode combination. If they don’t, I suggest that they go back to school !

Or Better Yet…

…just yell "Scottish Tune!" and the guitar player will start playing in Amix right away. <-joke, before anyone gets pedantic

—-Michael B. (pedant)