Also known as
Bonaparte Crossing The Alps March, Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine, Bonaparte’s March, Boney Crossing The Alps, Bony Crossing The Alps, The Hot Asphalt, Napóilean Ag Trasnú Sliaḃ Alpa, Napoleon Ag Trasnú Na NAlp, Napoleon Crosses The Alps, Napoleon Crossing The Alps.
I learned this march from Harry Bradley’s solo album. Just a few days ago, I suddenly noticed it’s really similar to what Scottish group Keep It Up recorded as "The Battle of Waterloo." Although two settings share some identical phrases, they are played in totally different tempos, so I didn’t realise they are basically the same tune.
And just before now, it’s also on Martin Hayes’ solo album too. "Bony Crossing the Alps"? I just don’t know the real title for the tune.
I personally prefer the Scottish version, but it’s already on JC’s, so I post the simple Irish one. Sounds nice when played slowly. Make believe you are Martin Hayes.
Sorry, I mean "And just before now, *I found* it’s on…." He might be wrong, but this is what Harry Bradley plays as Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine. I hesitate to add the original Scottish title because it’s similar to this one but not entirely the same.
FIfe and Drum Corps, in the Northeast, US., play this tune alot. It is almost always coupled with the jig Three Little Drummers. We use the same name, and play it quite slow, then take off when it gets to the jig. I believe this setting or pairing was put together by Ed Olsen, of The Ancient Mariners F&DC. in the late 60s- early 70s.
Nothing-personal slainte, but there’s some problems with the ABCs here. The bars are in the wrong place, you’ve added notes (to Harry Bradley’s version that you sighted as the source) and you left out the first and second endings. I just want the tune to be useful and not lead people seeking to learn it astray. Here’s the version from "The New Road" by Charlie Piggot and Gerry Harrington. It’s just about identical to Harry’s setting. Compare and see what I mean.
Jack, thanks for pointing out the mistake. I actually thought it might be a leading phrase. Sorry. I just had a look at what Jeremy posted as Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine again and found it also shares similar phrases with Battle of Waterloo.
I just remember my Chinese friend once pointed out this tune really sounds Chinese. Maybe Marco Polo introduced it to Italian pipers.
One of my favourite tunes
… got it from the Piggott/Harrington CD. Nobody seems to like that set in sessions though - oh the tyranny of reels!
Charlie regularly plays in Lisdoonvarna, West Clare. He’s an outstanding player and mostly plays waltzes, barndances, and occasionally jigs in the session. I was very fortunate to play this tune with him a couple of months ago.
According to the notes of Piggott & Harrington’s "New Road," this march was learned from the concertina playing of Mary MacNamara, who had been a musical partner of Martin Hayes for long. Not sure who passed the tune down to the two East Clare musicians, but it’s interesting how it circulates.
I was trying to play along to the Harry Bradley cd on guitar to this tune, but can’t seem to work out the chords. It seems to be in some sort of minor key?? Can anyone help me out??? Thanks
He uses a marching band flute, which is probably tuned in C.
Is there any way to get the wrong transcription removed and the proper one, as submitted by Gilder, The Phantom Button, put in it’s place? It’s a shame to have the wrong version of such a lovely tune misleading people who want to play it. Like a pharmacist mixing up the prescriptions.
Come on— it’s been up there nearly thee years. Who’s in charge here?
Jeremy kindly fixed the sheet music, so there’s nothing wrong with this transcription now.
Sorry to disagree- but to my ears this is still not the same as played by Andrew McNamara, Charlie Piggot, Martin Hayes, Harry Bradley, et. al. The posted transcription is wrong.
Further, the posted version does not show the different endings for each part: ending on G the first time through each part and on A the second. This is common enough though not universal.
Am I wrong here?
Cocus, I admit this is a bit different from what Harry Bradley and Charlie Piggott have recorded, but even those players don’t play it the same way. As for the ending, Martin Hayes plays G each time. There’s no single "correct" interpretation of a tune. We aren’t classical musicians, you know.
I appreciate what you say. But forgetting the different G/A endings, the transcription is still so different in the 7th (?) bar from what the mentioned musicians play that there is no way the two versions (as transcribed and as recorded) could even be played together. Andrew’s, Harry’s , Martin’s and Charlie’s version can all be played together. Their very minor differences make for different versions.
Nobody has recorded the tune as it is transcribed. It isn’t a bit different, as you say. It is different. I don’t think the transcribed version is "a version," as we mean it: as the way a respected musician has of playing the tune. What is the attribution of the tune as transcribed? Neither Piggot nor Bradley play it as transcribed.
And with that I will go away.
Incidentally, classical musicians don’t think there’s a single "correct" interpretation of a tune either. I think it’s a bit insulting to stereotype them as unfeeling robots like that.
Harry learned this tune from Charlie, so no wonder they recorded very similar versions. But Martin Hayes’ version cannot be played together with their versions because it has a different ending as I pointed out. That’s not a "minor" difference. And when I wrote I learned the tune from the playing of Harry, but I didn’t mean I transcribed his version. I’d heard it played in several different ways before, so I posted a composite of all those versions. You’re free to dislike what I’ve put here, but you might change your mind when you hear a respected musician play the tune in a similar way.
And sorry for a very biased comment about classical musicians though I didn’t suggest they’re "unfeeling robots."
Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine
Quite right, Dow. A solo classical musician with any musical sense will work out his or her own interpretation, which need not necessarily adhere strictly to the printed score. If you’re not a soloist but playing in an orchestra then it is the conductor who has the final say on the interpretation - the conductor is performing according to his interpretation and the orchestra is his "instrument" of choice. Once you understand this you can see why a conductor can blow his top when an orchestra doesn’t play in tune or in time!
Unfortunately, there are still some classical music teachers around (apparently known generically to the Associated Board examining corps as "Gladys Potts", a lady of indeterminate age who has been teaching a succession of pupils the same exam pieces for the last 50 years) who teach kids their grade exam pieces by rote, and woe betide them if they deviate by even a small fraction from the dots on the printed page. Such pupils can become in effect performing monkeys with little capability or understanding of playing any music outside of what they have been taught for the exam grades. I don’t think it was any accident that my cello and classical guitar teachers (both full-time professionals) refused to teach for exams.