Dusty Windowsills jig

Also known as Austin Barratts, Austin Barrett’s, The Blasket Sound, The Chicago, Dust On The Windowsills, The Dusty Windmill, The Dusty Windowsill, The Dusty Windowsills, The Grandfather, Harding’s, Harling’s, The Hiccup, John Harling’s, Johnny Harling’s, The Trip To The Highlands, Whiskey For Breakfast.

There are 49 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with The Cliffs Of Moher (a few times), Apples In Winter (a few times), Indian Point (a few times), The Jig Of Slurs (a few times) and The Return Home (a few times).

Dusty Windowsills has been added to 85 tune sets.

Dusty Windowsills has been added to 1,241 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Seven settings

X: 1
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
A2B cBA|e2d efg|age dBG|ABA A3:|
a3 age|dBd g3|gag gfe|dBA GAG|
A2A gAf|A2A gAf|G2G eGd|G2G edB|
A2A gAf|A2d efg|age dBG|ABA A3:|
X: 2
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
E |:A2B cBA | eAB cBA | GAG EGG | DGG EGG |
A2B cBA | e2d efg |age dBG | BAG A3 :|
aba age | def gfg | gag gfe | dBA GFG |
EGG DGG | EGG ABc | Bed BAG | BAG A3 :|
ABA gAf | ABA edB |GFG eGd | GFG edB |
ABA gAf | ABA efg | age dBG | BAG A3 :|
X: 3
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
E |: A2B cBA | eAB cBA | G3 EGG | DGG EFG |
A2B cBA | e2d efg | age dBG | ABA A3 :|
|: a3 age | dBd g3 | gba gfe | dBA G3 |
EGG DGG | EFG ABc | Bed BAG | B2A A3 :|
|: A3 gAf | A3 ged | G3 eGd | G3 edB |
A3 gAf | A3 efg | age dBG | ABA A3 :|
# Added by bdh .
X: 4
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:"Am"A2B cBA|"Am"eAB cBA|"G"GAG FGG|"G"EGG EFG|
"Am"A2B cBA|"Am"e2d efg|"G"age dBG|"G"ABA "Am"A3:|
|:"Am"a3 age|"G"dBd g3|"G"gag "C"gfe|"G"dBA GAG|
"C"EGG "G"DGG|"C"EFG "Am"ABc|"G"Bee dBG|"G"ABA "Am"A3:|
|:"Am"A2A gAf|"Am"A2A "Em"gAf|"G"G2G eGd|"G"G2G "Em"edB|
"Am"A2A gAf|"Am"A2d "Em"efg|"Am"age "G"dBG|"Am"ABA A3:|
# Added by Bryce .
X: 5
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:"Am"A2B cBA|"Am"eAB cBA|"G"G3 EGG|"G"DGG EFG|
"Am"A2B cBA|"Am"e2d efg|"G"age dBG|"G"ABA "Am"A3:|
|:"Am"a3 age|"G"dB/c/d g3|"G"gag "C"gfe|"G"dBA GFG|
"C"EGG "G"DGG|"C"EGG "Am"ABc|"G"Bed BAG|"G"ABA "Am"A3:|
|:"Am"A3 gAf|"Am"A3 "Em"ged|"G"G3 eGd|"G"G3 "Em"edB|
"Am"A3 gAf|"Am"A3 "Em"efg|"Am"age "G"dBG|"Am"ABA A3:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
E|:"Am"A2B cBA|"Em"eAB "Am"cBA|"G"GAG "Em"EGG|"G"DGG "Em"EFG|
"Am"A2B cBA|"Em"e2d efg|"G"age dBG|1 "Am"~A3 A2E:|2 "Am"~A3 A3||
|:"Am"aba "G"age|dB/^c/d ~g3|g2g "C"gfe|"G"dBA GAG|
"Em"EGG "G"DGG|"Em"EFG "Am"ABc|"G"Bed BAG|1 "Am"~A3 A3:|2 "Am"~A3 A2G||
|:"Am"A2A "G"g2f|"Am"A2A "Em"edB|"G"G2G "Em"edB|"G"G2G "Em"edB|
"Am"A2A "G"g2f|"Em"efe efg|"Am"age "G"dBG|1 "Am"~A3 A2G :|2 "Am"~A3 A2E||
X: 7
T: Dusty Windowsills
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Ador
E|:"Am"A2B cBA|"Em"eAB "Am"cBA|"G"GAG "Em"EGG|"G"DGG "Em"EFG|
"Am"A2B cBA|"Em"e2d efg|"G"age dBG|1 "Am"ABA A2E:|2 "Am"BAG A3||
|:"Am"~a3 "G"age|dB/c/d g3|gag "C"gfe|"G"dBA GAG|
"Em"EGG "G"DGG|"Em"EFG "Am"ABc|"G"Bed BAG|1 "Am"BAG A3:|2 "Am"ABA A2G||
|:"Am"A2A "G"g2f|"Am"A2A "G"ged|G2G "Em"e2d|"G"G2G "Em"edB|
"Am"A2A "G"g2f|"Am"A2d "Em"efg|"Am"age "G"dBG|1 "Am"ABA A2G :|2 "Am"ABA A2E||

Twenty-five comments

Don’t let this tune fool you: the first part is quite straightforward and fun to play, but that last part is really tricky. It might be fun to play the first bit quite fast but then you’ll definitely trip on that last part.

To my ear, that last part sounds very pipe-like. This means it might be easier to play it on the whistle than fiddle. A more fiddle-like way to play this last part might be to replace the jumping from string to string with a droning A string. I’m not sure if this would actually be any easier, though.

It’s worth persevering with this somewhat tricky tune because once you know it, it’s a lot of fun to play at sessions.

Dusty Windowsills

This jig is easier to fit to fiddle—especially that tricky thrid part—if played in Edorian.

Posted .

Dusty Windowsills

I learned this tune as the "Chicago Jig" early in my playing. The tune was written by a musician in Chicago with the last name of Harlinger or Hardinger.
In Ireland it is usually called "Harding’s Jig" (a mutation of the author’s name.) The "Dusty Windowsills" is a reference to the state of the windowsills in the men’s room of the Chicago based music hall where the tune was born.

In as far as fiddling the tune I play the
"GFG eGd |" Part with the ring finger anchored at 3rd postion on the D & A strings & play the high E with my pinky on the A string.

This is a real nice tune & one of my fav’s


Dusty Windowsills

I heard that this tune got the name "Dusty Windowsills" because the composer, at the moment of inspiration, wrote out the tune with his finger on a dusty windowsill. Cant quite remember where I got this info; perhaps from the jacket of Skip Healy’s CD, the Return Home.

Now, this account doesn’t seem to conflict with Brad’s account, since perhaps the composer was indeed in the mens room at a Chicago music hall when this happened…

Definitely a great tune.

Dusty Windowsills

Here’s some pretty definitive information on this tune. This is the text of an email I just received:

"i have information regarding the tune Dusty Windowsills, please if you would, consider putting this on the site…

The Dusty Windowsills was written by a man in Chicago, Illinois by the name of John Harling, it is NOT a traditional tune because the man is very much alive, he is in his 40s.

HOW THE TUNE GOT IT’S NAME:: one day John was looking for something in his friend’s appartment basement, and this tune popped into his head. He looked everywhere for something to write with and on. He came across a window with a layer of dust on it, and started to write it down, so that later he would come back and write it down on a peice of paper. Isn’t that interesting…? Once again the man’s name is JOHN HARLING…I know all of this because I am his 15 year old daughter… Please let me know that you have gotten this information. Thank you"

The Chicago

Pete Cooper has this beautiful Jig under the name "The Chicago" in his irish fiddle book (and names John Harling as composer) to introduce "rolls on open strings" which are applied to the "a" notes in the c-part …. Jill asked me to name recordings where she can listen, how such an open string roll sounds. I have an example in my ear but can

So any ideas on when this became known as Austin Barratts, or Mulvihills? The last I’m assuming is a mix-up…


I have a revised ABC for this tune. I got this from the person who helped revised the original tune for publication, and it matches closely what we play in our session. It’s just a few notes different from what was posted here:

T:Dusty Windowsill, The
C:John Harling
S:Kell Chole (Murphy Roche Irish Music club)
E |:A2B cBA | eAB cBA | GAG EGG | DGG EGG | A2B cBA | e2d efg |
age dBG | BAG A3 :| aba age | def gfg | gag gfe | dBA GFG |
EGG DGG | EGG ABc | Bed BAG | BAG A3 :| ABA gAf | ABA edB |
GFG eGd | GFG edB | ABA gAf | ABA efg | age dBG | BAG A3 :|

Fun tune!

By the way, i asked and was informed that John plays the whistle. He’s very emphatic about being a whistle player, not a flute player.

Johnny Harling

I played in a band with Johnny Harling in Chicago called the Reeks. Johnny is, in fact, the person who wrote "The Dusty Windowsill," along with quite a few other tunes (The Lowe Reel, The Maricaibo Reel come to mind off the top of my head.) He is one of the best tin whistle players in the world. (He does play the flute, but he’s mainly a whistle player.) And he is very much alive — I’m godfather of his son Sean. The story about writing the tune down in the dust of a windowsill is also true.

Boys of the Town

This appears in CD 1 of Geraldine Cotter’s "Traditional Irish Tunes Played On The Thin Whistle", but it’s called "The Boys Of The Town", there.

Darn it!

Not the Boys Of The Town, but Austin Barret’s! Sorry.


I play this on both fiddle and whistle, and whistle definitely comes out better.Either way it’s one of my favorite tunes - I’ll definitely try it in Edorian, thanks. And it’s great to know how it was written! May I offer Mr. Harling my greatest thanks and appreciation!

Info from Johnny’s daughter

Here’s an email I received from Jessica Harling:

"Hello, I was reading past discussions tonight and thought I could answer some unsolved questions if it made any difference- in case any one was still wondering.This is Jessica, Johnny Harling’s daughter again. One question was regarding the name. He named it Dusty Windowsills…all of the other names it is known by people have made up. And quite frankly he finds some of them humorous. Second this is in regards to the parts to the tune. When he wrote it- he did it in 3 parts as known as today. Nothing was changed nor added. Also in regards to what played/s. Growing up, my dad was forced to play the tin whistle by my Papa. He refused and played the clarinet for the school. When he got into his teenage years, he started to appreciate irish music and picked up the tin whistle and taught himself how to play. The house was filled non stop with the sounds of irish music. So by the time he wrote the tune he was a master at the tin whistle. He also can play the flute. Another thing, although he is not retired, he also was never a full-time musician, he still active in the chicago music scene. He judges at feis’ year round, plays-does gigs, gets together with his old band when the lead singer comes in town, and writes music. Although "With Ourselves," and "Dusty Windowsills" are the only well known tunes of his- he has abundant amount of very popular and incredible tunes that he plays within the family. He is an unbelievable musician, great guy, a legend in my eyes, and a spectacular father on top of that. And I would say HE is the "tip of the ice berg." I hope this gives a little bit more insight of this great guy."

Set idea

This is one of my favorite tunes, but unfortunately a lot of people at the local sessions don’t know it, so I’m having to slowly educate them. My dad and I play it in a set followed by The Mug of Browm Ale, and the Full-Rigged Ship.

It’s known as "The Grandfather" on the "Champions of Ireland: Flute" CD.

A confirmation from Johnny: anecdote

I have yet to meet Mr. Harling myself, would love to – however have chatted with him on the phone once: a chat in which he confirmed many of the above attestations..
Short story long, I played Irish music on the street /farmer’s markets in Toronto in the ’80s.. In about ‘82 one of my Irish-flute-playing buddies returned from a month in Ireland and taught me this 3-part A-min. jig he’d picked up.. Perhaps a few months later, desirous to become more than a scratchy fiddle player I went to Chicago and chanced upon a fiddle for sale. The seller and I both knowing next to nothing oft violins accepted my offer to buy it, refundable after evaluation. I called up Liz Carroll out of the blue to request an evaluation– and well, to get a lesson at the same time. She generously invited me over. All was to the good.. the fiddle was quite a nice old one, worth the price and more. :-)
After our brief lesson we went to her piano for few more tunes, and I asked Liz if she knew this one I’d just learned, aforementioned, which I knew as The Dusty Windowsill. She exclaimed, "Why, that’s Johnny Harling’s! (a whistle-playing buddy she sometimes did gigs with; she’d played the tune on one of her radio interviews in Ireland. "Where’d you learn it?" Seemingly quite intrigued with my story she suggested calling Johnny up to play it for him, fiddle & piano, over the phone.. (That was a first, but not last, in my experience of telephone tune-transfererence).. Which we did. Then in a chat with the composer himself, Johnny explained that at the time, the Kansas’ hit song, "Dust in the Wind" (with a fiddle in it) had been running through his head; and while he was casting about for a name and looking out his window, he noticed the ledge was dusty.
And so it was named! It had left Chicago and returned full circle via Ireland and Toronto. The final leg was by phone.

“Johnny Harling’s” jig {a.k.a. “Dusty Windowsill”

Many of the recording links for this jig lead back to reels.
Under alternate names.
For instance;
"Johnny Harling’s"
Submitted on January 15th 2007 by MTGuru.
~ or ~
"The Chicago"
Submitted on July 15th 2002 by Mark Cordova.

In some cases there is a link to a jig. Such as;
Half-Set In Harlem
De Danann
Submitted on October 23rd 2004 by ceolachan.

Submitted on May 25th 2006 by Kenny.

however, the recording might in fact have a reel …
"Derry Craig Wood"
Submitted on January 29th 2004 by Will CPT.

Geraldine Cotter & the PubScouts did record this jig.
Any others?

Posted by .

A fiddler friend of mine from Halifax (Nova Scotia) plays this tune like this:

K: Ador
E |: A2B cBA | eAB cBA | G3 EGG | DGG EFG |
A2B cBA | e2d efg | age dBG | ABA A3 :|
|: a3 age | dBd g3 | gba gfe | dBA G3 |
EGG DGG | EFG ABc | Bed BAG | B2A A3 :|
|: A3 gAf | A3 ged | G3 eGd | G3 edB |
A3 gAf | A3 efg | age dBG | ABA A3 :|

Posted by .

Any permission by Johnny Harling?

Has anyone received permission by Johnny Harling to play his tune(s) in an open session?

Posted by .


Probably not. Why do you think he wrote it ? I also have never received permission from Paddy Fahy, Liz Carroll, Charlie Lennon, Tommy Peoples, etc….. to play their compositions in an "open session", so plead guilty to that as well.

Posted by .

Dusty Windowsills, X:6

A few variations from Guilderoy Byrne’s album "Turning Away".

Dusty Windowsills, X:7

Some combination of previous variations.

A few more alternatives for the C Part:
- 2nd bar: |"Am"A2A "G"gdB|
- 2nd bar: |"Am"A2A "G"g2f|
- 6th bar: |"Em"~e3 efg|

Re: Dusty Windowsills

Jessica Harling, which of the settings is the closest to the way your dad wrote it?

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