Leaving Friday Harbour waltz

By John McCusker

Also known as Leaving Friday Harbor.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

Leaving Friday Harbour has been added to 6 tune sets.

Leaving Friday Harbour has been added to 161 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: Leaving Friday Harbour
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A2|"D"f4 ed|[M:2/4]"D/C#"ef "G/B"A2|[M:3/4]"D" f3f ed|"G/B"ef "D"a3f|
"G"(3ggg gf ed|"Gmaj7"ef B4|"Em7".d2 dcde|"A7"c/d/c BA"/C#"de|
"D"f4 ed|[M:2/4]"D/C#"ef"G/B"A2|[M:3/4]"D"f3f ed|"G/B"ef "D"a3f|
"G"(3ggg gf ed|"Gmaj7"ef B3d|"A7"c/d/c BA"/C#"ef|"D"d4:|
|:dc|"A7"c2 Ac"/C#"eg|"Dalt"gf a3f|"G"g2 B3g|"D"gf ef d/e/f|
"G"g2 B3g|"D"gf ef df|"Em"e2 B2 ef|"G" ed- dc BA|
[1 "A7"c2 Ac"/C#"eg|"Dalt"gf a3f|"G"g2 B3g|"D" gf ef dc|
"G"B2 GB B/c/d|"D"Ad f3a|"A7"ge cA"/C#"ef|"D" d4:|
[2 "D" f4 ed|[M:2/4]"D/C#" ef "G/B" A2|[M:3/4]"D"f3f ed|"G/B" ef "D" a3f|
"G"(3ggg gf ed|"Gmaj7"ef B3d|"A7"c/d/c BA"/C#"ef|"D" d4||
X: 2
T: Leaving Friday Harbour
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
"D" f3f ed|"G/B" ef "D" A4|"D" f3f ed|"Gmaj7" ef a3f|
g2 gf ed|ef B4|"Em7" .d2 dcde|"A7" c/d/c BA "/C#" de|
"D" f4 ed|"D/C#" e2f2 "G/B" A4|"D" f3f ed|"G/B" ef "D" a3f|
"G" g2 gf ed|"Gmaj7" ef B3d|"A7" c/d/c BA "/C#" ef|"D" d4:|
|:dc|"A7" c2 Ac "/C#" eg|"Dalt" gf a3f|"G" g2 B3g|"D" gf ef d/e/f|
"G" g2 B3g|"D" gf ef df|"Em" e2 B2 ef|"G" ed- dc BA|
[1 "A7" c2 Ac "/C#" eg|"Dalt" gf a3f|"G" g2 B3g|"D" gf ef dc|
"G" B2 GB B/c/d|"D" Ad f3a|"A7" ge cA "/C#" ef|"D" d4:|
# Added by JACKB .

Seventeen comments

This tune was written by John McCusker about an amazing corner of Washington State. Be careful with the missing beat in the second bar. I’ve included my attempts at the chords from his album “Goodnight Ginger.”

Where is Friday Harbour?

Friday Harbour is on one of the ‘San Juan’ Islands off the north-west coast of America. I went there in March to the annual Irish music camp…..
It’s a great festival…..John Williams (founder member of Solas) was teaching there, along with James Kelly and Randal Bays (Fiddle) and the great Eoin O’Neil (Bouzouki). They all played at the sessions and Ceilidhs and it was all fantastic.
Just a small festival right now, but it’s growing - a couple of hundred people there this year.
I heard that John McCusker wrote the tune while travelling on the Ferry back to the US mainland one time after playing at the festival…..

Oh yeah, and Catherine McEvoy was teaching the flute

Leaving Friday Habror by car

In 2003 I was staying with a friend in Seattle, my first big trip to the USA, and during my visit we drove a couple of other friends up to the Friday Harbour Festival, to meet the ferry. On the way they practised tunes in the back of the car, we all chatted, and I fell asleep!

On the drive back, just two of us left in the quiet car, that pleasant feeling of tiredness and satisfaction, the sun dipping low in the sky, when words are no longer necessary for communication.

Three years later we’re married. This tune will always remind me of that drive.

Story Behind the Tune

So I was at the Friday Harbor camp a couple of weeks ago and it was an absolute blast! Gorgeous scenery, wonderful people, and of course, excellent music. 🙂

On the way back home I was feeling pretty sad to have to leave that wonderful experience and all the new friends I had made, and this tune came to mind. I contacted the directors of the camp and found out that while John McCusker had never actually taught at the camp, contrary to what someone had said above, he had performed on the island several times, and presumably wrote this tune while on the ferry leaving Friday Harbor. So it actually doesn’t have any connections with the Friday Harbor Irish Music Week, but is still a lovely tune, and expresses a lot of the sentiment I felt myself when leaving the camp.

By the way, if any of you haven’t been to the Friday Harbor camp yet, you should definitely check it out. Their website is http://www.fridayharborirish.com/ and at some point they should be updating it with new info about the camp in 2012.

Friday Harbor Thank you and…

Thanks so much for the music score. I think you did a great job of capturing the performance I saw on Youtube. It seems that there is a piece missing, and interlude or …I would love it if you could add that!!

Leaving Friday Harbor

Love this tune! Thanks so much for transcribing it!!!


I really wish I could find this tune for the GHB with the gracenotes. It sounds absolutely amazing.

Gracing for GHB

Joseph, if you play the pipes, my recommendation is to keep it simple, and just embellish as needed to separate repeated notes. I purchased and listened to the Battlefield Band’s version which includes pipes, and wrote out what I heard. You could certainly add in more G grace notes if you feel they are needed, but this version should get you well on your way.

For Joseph

I couldn’t find a way to use HP for the Key so that the grace notes would appear as they should for the pipes, so here is my version for Joseph:

T:Leaving Friday Harbour
R:waltz in D Major
A2 |{e}f2 {g}f{e}f ed|[M:2/4]ef {G}A2 |[M:3/4]{e}f3{g}f ed |ef {ag}a3f |
g2 {a}gf ed|ef {g}B4|{de}d2 {g}dcde|{gcd}c2 BA [1de |[2ag]
{e}f2 {g}f{e}f ed|[M:2/4]{g}ef{G}A2 |[M:3/4]{e}f3{g}f ed|ef {ag}a3f |
g2 {a}gf ed|ef {g}B3d|{gcd}c2 BAef |[1 {Gdc}d4 :|2 {Gdc}d6 |]
|: {gcd}c2 {e}Aceg|{a}gf a3f|g2 {a}B3g|{a}gf ef {g}d/2e/2f|
g2 {a}B3g|{a}gf ef df|{g}e2 B2 ef| {g}ed- dc BA|
[1 {gcd}c2 {e}Aceg|{a}gf a3f|g2 {a}B3g| {a}gf ef dc|
{gBd}B2 GB {g}B/2c/2d|{g}Ad {fg}f3a|ge cAef| {Gdc}d4 :|
[2 {e}f2 {g}f{e}f ed|[M:2/4]ef {G}A2 |[M:3/4]{e}f3{g}f ed |ef {ag}a3f |
g2 {a}gf ed|ef {g}B4|{de}d2 {g}dcde|{gcd}c2 BA ef | {Gdc}d6||

Re: Leaving Friday Harbour

Is the second setting above missing the 2nd ending, or perhaps a DC al Fine?

Re: Leaving Friday Harbour

X:2 looks incorrect in that it gives bars 2 & 10 in the A part as 3/4, but Mr McCusker plays them 2/4 - as in X:1.
For me, it’s that slight hiccup in the timing that helps make the piece so distinctive.

And the 1st and 2nd endings of the B part should also be played as written in X:1. There’s a bit missing in X:2.

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Re: Leaving Friday Harbour

Yes, Bazza, X:2 is JACKB’s personal take - not likely to be played that way anywhere I go.