The German Beau polka

Also known as The Finger, The German Bow.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

The German Beau has been added to 5 tune sets.

The German Beau has been added to 35 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The German Beau
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G2 DG|A>F DB|cB AG|F/G/A/F/ D/E/F/D/|
G2 DG|A>F Dc|B/d/B/G/ A/c/A/F/|G2 G:|
|:D|G/A/B/c/ dG/A/|B/c/d/e/ dd|c>d ef|g2 fg|
e2 cA|d2 BG|cB AG|F/G/A/F/ D/E/F/D/|
G2 DG|A>F Dc|B/d/B/G/ A/c/A/F/|G2 G:|

Thirteen comments

When I was a young lad in North Armagh, this tune was a standard at ceilis and the like. However I’d never come across it on record, or at sessions. By chance I happened on the notation in a book of Josephine Keegan’s tunes. Towards the end of the book - having set out her own tunes - a discussion of set dancing in County Armagh includes the sheet music for The German Beau. At last I know the title and find I’ve just about remembered the tune correctly!

Still Going

You’ll be glad to know it’s still going strong even in distant Amerikay. I play the odd ceili with an older musician and this comes up every time. Played at a slower tempo and with some odd fist-shaking gestures from the dancers as part of the dance.


Isn’t it great the way these tunes crop up in distant locales!

I seem to remember local accordionist, William James McAlinden of The High Moss playing the first and second bars of the second part as G/A/B/c dd|G/A/B/c dd| with both of the “d”s played quite staccato (and presumably this is where the fist-shaking takes place?!). However I’ve deferred to the Josephine Keegan version, which has a nice twist.

Thanks for the comments.



of course should have read G/A/B/c/ dd| G/A/B/c/ dd| above … those half-note symbols at the end of a measure are a pain to remember some times

German Beau

It’s the second tune of ‘The Three Tunes’ a ceili dance. The third tune is ‘Haste to the Wedding’ - I forget what the first tune is

The three tunes are Leslie’s Hornpipe, The German Beau (Bow) and as Alan points out Haste To The Wedding …

A Fist in Amerikay and a Finger in Eire

I’ve danced both in both places, but basically the same dance, the difference is whether you shake a fist at your partner or a finger. The play in it is that you fall out with your partner, turn away from them, and then come back together for a polka. While it was better remembered in Ulster, there were memories of it and accounts all across Eire, North to South. The Irish like the craic, and it was a fun little dance, with ‘an póigín’ before launching off in a polka around the dance space…

“The Finger Polka”

Wouldn’t you know, I forgot to give the ‘usual’ name for the dance…

Na Tri Foinn / The Three Tunes - part 3

This tune is the third in the set of 3 for the ceili dance, but not as Alan has it:

1.) Haste to the Wedding
2.) Leslie’s Hornpipe
3.) The German Beau

The movements, or ‘body’, to this part of the ceili dance in part mimic the couple dance, minus the kiss and the polka…

The Three Tunes

The Three Tunes ceili dance set is in Matt Cunningham’s Vol 8 of his Dance Music of Ireland collection, but, confusingly, this tune in the set (The German Beau) is called Leslie’s in Matt Cunningham and is in D - which matches the other tunes - whereas the tune that in TheSession database is known as Leslie’s is called Astley’s Ride by Matt Cunningham, which I believe is correct, and ties up with other sources such as Pete Cooper.

Still confused? So am I, let’s just play the music. It’s a lovely set.

A 40 bar MARCH

A few years ago now I was asked for a 40 bar tune to fit a dance. Obviously I said “of course, no problem”. It turned out that this tune fitted the dance perfectly. The dance is called “Down on the Farm”. At this moment I do not know the origins of the dance but we play it at a reasonable march tempo. There is no ‘stepping’ or ‘polka-ing’. “Astleys ride” certainly tells the dancers to polka whereas this tune, IMHO, does not.
no doubt ‘c’ will ask for the dance notation. I will see what I can do but no promises.

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