The Marine jig

Also known as Braes Of Argyll, The Braes Of Argyll, I’ll Paddle Me Own Canoe, I’ll Paddle My Own Canoe, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Single.

There are 5 recordings of this tune.

The Marine has been added to 31 tunebooks.

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Eleven comments

For a specific 16 bar dance - ‘The Marine’

Here is the same tune with the two parts repeating and slight variation:

|:e|f2a gfe|f2d B2A|AFA faf|e3 e2d|
f2a gfe|f2d B2A|AFA faf|1 d3 d2:|
2 d3 dcd||
|:e3 efg|a3 a3|g2g A2A|g3 g2e|
f2a gfe|f2d B2A|AFA faf|1 d3 dcd:|
2 d3 d2||

But, as mentioned previously, as it used to be played in the North, the parts did not repeat, fitting in bars and phrasing a particular dance that was 16 bars in length…

so that’s a single jig?

‘Single Jig’ - Yup! - and sometimes dual voltage…

In their character are the ‘slow-quick’ (f2a) pulse, especially on the first beat of a bar/phrase, and as shared with the slide, and why, ike between Mazurkas and Varsoviennes, you can find melodies that cross both ways. This is also a way to clear the chaff, meaning those ‘new’ compositions that lay claim to being ‘slides’ but don’t quite make it, coming from a lack of ‘understanding’ or ‘experience’, not that they aren’t nice tunes… ‘Single’ also as with the single reel, 16 bars in length, though again, having lost the attachment to their relative dance form, many are now played ‘double’ - 32 bars…

‘The Marine’ - the dance, as promised:

The Marine (with variations)

Music: 6/8 - 16 bars - ‘The Marine’, or any single jig, or any 6/8 or 12/8 jig…
Formation: Couples facing the Line-Of-Direction (ACW, Anti-Clockwise/CCW), man on her left/woman on his right…
Hold: This can be either a cross-back hold (Man’s right arm behind woman and under/Woman’s left arm around man’s back and over) or a simple inside hand hold (Man’s Right holding Woman’s Left) - to start…

Part A (‘The Marine’)
Bars 1-2: Couples walk forward, ‘advance’, in the LOD, starting on outside feet, finishing with a hop and a slight swing of the free foot forward -
(M: L, R, L, hop/W: R, L, R, hop)
Bars 3-4: with opposite footwork the couples ‘retire’.
NOTE: this can be either a simple backing up - or - the couples can drop their hold, turning in toward each other to face back the way they came to do the same steps ‘back’, but moving forward opposite LOD.
Bar 5: ‘Balance’ out and away from partner with ‘3s’
Bar 6: ‘Balance’ in with opposite footwork.
Bars 7-8: individually the two partners ‘waltz’ 2 X 3s traveling in the LOD -
(M: LRL, RLR turning once around ACW/W: RLR, LRL turning once Clockwise/CW)

Part B
Bars 1-2: partners facing, take hands across, Rs in Ls/Ls in Rs, moving in the LOD - step to the side, step across, step to the side, step together without taking weight -
(M: L, R, L, together/W: R, L, R, together - moving ACW/LOD)
Bars 3-4: REPEAT all that back, opposite LOD/CW, with opposite footwork.
Bars 5-8: Taking either a waltz hold or a ‘barrell hold’ (shoulder-blades - man under, woman over) ‘waltz’ around, usually twice around, moving in the LOD -
finishing up in the open hold facing LOD and ready to start the dance again…
NOTE: As with many of these dances as danced in Eire the last two bars can be danced as a ‘double’/pivot/dreher, but here in the jig it is without any hop, simply 1, 2, 3, 4… (M: L, R, L, R/W: R, L, R, L) - but is not a prerequisite…nor is turning/waltzing, as you can merely travel forward with the same steps, as you or your partner see fit or need…

A NOTE ON IRISH COUPLE DANCING: There are those with a strong influence to exaggerate the steps and moves of these dances, as with the sets, to be more ‘exhibitionist’ or ‘acrobatic’. Some of those influences can be tagged - ‘ballroom’, ‘An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha/The Irish Dance Commission’, ‘Cogal’, by the ‘book’… And there’s that wince of pomp that competition seems to pull out of folks, not what I would call their best side, but I admit my biases. I also wouldn’t necessarily want to rob them of their joys, it just isn’t ‘country’, but some completely seperate and commercial creation/tradition driven to control and standardize.

There are also those who teach these dances without ascribing a source to them, as if immaculate conception on their part, or they invent some ‘authority’. I know, having shared my work openly with others, as I’ve done above, and there have been those who have in the past capitalized on it without a mention of any source. In this case I always share my sources and would have liked them to have at least had a mention, having been the folk who with welcome and generosity opened up their homes and community and hauled me into their music making and dancing. I’ve a lot of people to give thanks to, including doing many of these dances, such as the above, with Kitty Cassidy, Con providing the musical electricity. Others who showed me such kindness were Eddie Duffy and Mick Hoy, but there were a ton of other fine folk.

All of the couple dances I’ve had the grace to do were not ‘exaggerated’ in the slightest. If anything, the hard unforgiving floors these were usually danced on in the countryside would have crippled you if you were as over zelous or step heavy and mad as some ‘modern’ dancers, generally too high and too hard. These dances were ‘social’, good craic, and flowed. There weren’t any rods up the backside or sharp angular poses, or high steps, or rediculous costuming. The highest any step ever went to was mid-calf, the steps being ‘neat’ and close to the floor on the whole. Yes, there will always be the occassional village nut who likes to leap about, forcing everyone to move aside and give them room, out of fear, but that was always the exception, however common it has come to be of late.

For links to transcriptions of more couple dances:

I’d also have a few friends in the dance world, near and far, who have helped jar my memory to make sense of my notes by providing me feeds of information. Some of my notes were destroyed or near so by the weather, but being a dyslexic, if I can at least blame that in part, some of my notes aren’t as attentive as I now realize they should have been. Sometimes I was having so much fun, or couldn’t find a dry place immediately afterwards, that I didn’t keep records as well as I now wish I had. My budget was tight and I sadly didn’t travel with a camera, but I think that may have been a plus…

“The Peeler and the Goat” ~ another single jig dance

Submitted on December 19th 2005 by pbassnote.
You’ll find the dance description in the ‘Comments’,
eventually 😉…

The “Marine”

The Fiddler’s Companion says the “Marine” is a version of the Scottish tune the “Braes of Argyll”; to me it sounds just like “I’ll paddle my own canoe”, a name which suggests a song somewhere along the line, perhaps to the tune of “Braes of Argyll”. The “Marine” sounds like the name of the dance.

“The Marine” ~ dance & single jig

Yes, you’re right, it is the name of the dance… There are several names that have found this particular tune, sometimes associated with lyrics, sometimes bawdy… The dance can be danced to any jig but was originally specific to single jigs, like this one… In Eire, in the North, in Ulster ~ Donegal, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh, etc. ~ the name for the dance became associated with this particular tune…

“The Marine” ~ back on the subject of the dance

~ another few choices with this:

The hold can be ~
For bars 1-4 ~ open waltz/ballroom hold, the man’s Right-arm around the woman’s back while her Left-hand is on his Right-Shoulder.
For turning (waltzing round) as a couple ~ closed hold options include the common ballroom/waltz-hold or the barrel/hug-hold.

Variations in the moves ~
1-4 ~ as before, Advancing in the LOD, then retiring… (LOD = Line-of-Direction/ACW round the floor/hall)

5-6 ~ same, dropping hold, balance away and together, 123 away, 223 toward partner, can end facing, but without taking hands or hold…

7-8 ~ turn away from partner, the man ACW and the woman CW, travelling in the LOD (ACW) round the dance space. This can be 2 X 123 or 4 steps….

1-8 ~ take a closed-hold (for example the ‘hug’) and dance around the place turning CW as a couple and moving around the space/hall ACW.
NOTE: as previously, bars 7-8 can be the pivot/‘double’ step, turning twice round with four steps ~ 1, 2, 3, 4… This can be either ‘smooth’, without a hop, or as a hop-step, ‘hop’ really meaning a ‘skip’, not leaping up off the floor but with a heel-drop, the ball of the foot remaining on the floor.

“The Marine Four-Step” ~ his-story and controversy 😉

I had wanted to put an excerpt from an old ballroom manual in here in the beginning but was unsure of the legality, but it has been more than 50 years since the book’s publication, 1953, and it is that long out of print, besides, it is only a short extraction and not a chapter. Jeremy would be on me if I was that mad.

This bit of history and controversy also fits in with recent drives again to ‘standardize’ things in the scene, such as those damned Comhaltas Seisiun collections of ‘official’ standardized settings. Just so you know, if you didn’t already, I hate that cr*p. I’ve known just a few old and young farts that had their music set in concrete ~ as if the only tunes to play, certifiable, were those that were cut on vinyl of Coleman or Morrison or Touhey, in those exact settings and nothing else. Well, similar madness, as you will see below, plagued the dance world and still does, what with all those new fangled sets of quadrilles that folks have been getting from the fairies, ‘supposedly’ from antiquity ~ HA! Anyway, here’s a bit on this ‘old’ dance, at least created by an Irishman and at least 100 years old, not counting the earlier date of it’s elements…

Oh yes, I sould have added to the last ‘variation’ given above that the four step turning away from you partner was my way with it, bars 7 & 8, as a precursor and mirror, as can happen also in the music, for the free choice to ‘double/pivot’ = 4 steps in the last two measures/bars, 15 & 16 (7 & 8). All the other ‘versions’ previous were as collected from older dancers in Fermanagh, Tyrone and Donegal…

Now, back to that extract:

“The Old Time Dancer’s Handbook”
By F.J. Mainey
Herbert Jenkins, London, 1953

pages 105 - 107:

MARINE FOUR-STEP - There has been considerable discussion regarding the correct and original figuration of this dance, which at the present time is danced in two ways.

Many dancers begin the dance with Barn Dance steps - three steps and a hop. Others dance three marching steps, followed by a point. Then the movement is repeated, but moving backwards - either three steps and hop, or else three steps and point. The main point of controversy has been, and still is: Should it be three steps and a hop, or three steps and a point? In 1945, when I was teaching this dance, Mr. Charles Wood, of Edinburgh, the arranger of ‘Pride of Erin Waltz’, was present. He stated that he knew the late James Finnigan (who originated the Marine Four-Step) very well, and was indeed present when Mr. Finnegan first demonstrated the dance. He confirmed that three marching steps, followed by a point, was the original version introduced and taught at the Marine Gardens Ballroom, Portobello, where Mr. Finnigan was M.C.

This dance took its name from the Marine Gardens. At the same time it was the intention of the arranger that it should be a tribute to the Royal Marines. Three marching steps, then a point, seems much more ‘characteristic’ for such a dance. It will be recalled that Mr. Finnigan tended to favour dances with a military flavour, the best example being, perhaps, the Military Two-Step. He liked these military style dances, and the Marine Four-Step was meant to be a Marine-like, march-type dance.

Apart from the opening, however, there is another source of difficulty. In the original version, which is still danced by thousands of dancers, there was a glide forward in Bars 9 and 10, then six bars of waltzing. Many, however, follow the forward glide with another (two bars) ‘against Line of Dance’, followed by only four bars of waltzing, thus often colliding with oncoming dancers who have begun to waltz. The dancing of these two versions in the same ballroom by different couples produces numerous collisions.

When I have discussed this matter with other teachers, including many who have taken the view that the march-point version seems the more suitable, the polint has been made: Why, if this was Mr. Finnigan’s original figuration, is it not shown in some of the descriptions? While it is true that most of the more recent descriptions of the dance show the Barn Dance beginning, the oldest one I possess gives the march-point version.

I am unable to state recisely the date of the ‘London Ballroom Guide’ which contained this, but it was early in the present century. The Guide was issued at intervals, and was compiled by Walter Humphrey. I was generally a very reliable publication, and in the case of dances then new (or currently popular but fairly recent), the original arrangements were usually given. Her is the dance in question:


STARTING POSITION: Side by side, with nearest hands joined.
Lady commences with right foot, Gentleman with left foot.

2 - March 4 steps forward; point inside food on 4
2 - Return 4 steps; point outside foot on 4
2 - Pas de Basque outwards and inwards
2 - Solo Waltz outwards
2 - Glide forward
6 - Waltz (Natural Turn) resuming Open Position at end, prepared to ‘repeat’ the whole ‘ad lib.’

[NOTE: Because of difficulties in lining up text vertically in the ‘yellow space’ I have reversed the order as given in the book and started with the bar count… Also, unable to use italics I have used apostraphes instead = ‘~’…]

The Official Board standardization of this dance is truly astonishing. It begins with three steps forward, starting left foot, and described as “running steps”. Then a hop on left foot, and raising of right foot to 4th position aerial. These steps are then repeated backwards, starting with right foot. The ‘Official Board Dictionary of Technical Terms’ does not include a definition of a run or running step. What is intended here is therefore doubtful. But nothing which has hitherto been called a run, either in Old Time or Modern-style technique, could possibly be fitted to the music. When this version first appreared it was widely believed that a mistake had been made, and that it would soon be made clear that an error had occurred. Actually, it appears that the wording was intentional, though so far as I can ascertain, nobody seems willing to defend it. I is true that the official version is based on the Barn Dance opening, also that the original Barn Dance (Military Schottische) has been described as beginning with three running steps, ‘but that dance is in 4/4 time, not 6/8’. No doubt the Marine Four-Step will be given detailed consideration by the Official Board Committee later, when presumably standardization will be effected along more satisfactory lines.

~ F.J. Mainey, 1953

“I’ll Paddle My Own Canoe”

Sadly, I haven’t my collections of bawdy ballads at hand, but I have some memory of a few choice words with this chorus, but I do have some lyrics from times of ‘old’, so here they are, must have been damned depressing for these two lyricists:

“I’ll Paddle My Own Canoe”
lyrics by John C. Baker ~ copyright 1820 - 1860:

Oh yes, oh yes, full many a year of ceaseless toiling too,
Through danger oft dispelling fears I paddled my own canoe,
I paddled my own canoe, I paddled my own canoe.

Afloat upon life’s surging sea, ’Twas well I rarely knew,
That I was doom’d by destiny to paddle my own canoe,
To paddle my own canoe, to paddle my own canoe.

My arm was strong, my spirits free, life’s busy cares were new,
I said ye sons of earth shall see, I can paddle my own canoe,
I can paddle my own canoe, I can paddle my own canoe.

Since then have raging billows rolled, and winds that fiercely blew,
And many a hopeless wreck I’ve told, But I’ve paddled my own canoe,
I paddled my own canoe, I paddled my own canoe.

When suns are bright and hearts are light, and friends like steel are true,
And beauty’s smile the hour beguile, I paddled my own canoe,
I paddled my own canoe, I paddled my own canoe.

In darkest hour when tempest lower, and no star of hope I view,
When friendships die like withering flower, I paddled my own canoe,
I paddled my own canoe, I paddled my own canoe.

Oh yes, oh yes, full many a year of ceaseless toiling too,
Through danger oft dispelling fears I paddled my own Canoe,
I paddled my own canoe, I paddled my own canoe.

“I’ll Paddle My Own Canoe”
lyrics by L.O. Emerson ~ copyright 1820 - 1860:

I’ve left my loved and sacred home, I’ve bade my friends adieu,
O’er hill and dale I’ve sped my way To paddle my own canoe.
O’er hill and dale I’ve sped my way To paddle my own canoe.
I’ll paddle my own canoe, I’ll paddle my own canoe,
O’er hill and dale I’ve sped my way To paddle my own canoe.

I’ll press my way though sometimes drear the place in which I go,
Tho’ dangers start the quelling tear, I’ll paddle my own canoe,
Tho’ dangers start the quelling tear, I’ll paddle my own canoe,
I’ll paddle my own canoe, I’ll paddle my own canoe,
Tho’ dangers start the quelling tear, I’ll paddle my own canoe,

And through the world alone I roam, O’er land and ocean blue,
And tho’ the struggle oft is hard, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
And tho’ the struggle oft is hard, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
I’ll paddle my own canoe, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
And tho’ the struggle oft is hard, I’ll paddle my own canoe.

Ride on my boar, rid on, be free, And stem the tide in view,
The future’s but a dark lone sea, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
The future’s but a dark lone sea, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
I’ll paddle my own canoe, I’ll paddle my own canoe.
The future’s but a dark lone sea, I’ll paddle my own canoe.

NOTE: I prefer kayaks and a double blade…but I really would love one of those two seaters with the cargo hold in the middle, a good sea going kayak ~ someday… I have seen some lovely birch models too and as a kid used to dream of oneday making one, with expert guidance and help of course… 😉

“The Braes Of Argyll” / “The Marine”

X: 3
T: Marine, The
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Dmaj
|: de |\
f2 a gfe | f2 d B2 A | AFA faf | e3 e2 d |
f2 a gfe | f2 d B2 A | AF/G/A faf | d3- d :|
|: cd |\
e3 efg | a3 a2 f | gBB gef | g3 gg/f/e |
f2 a gfe | f2 d B2 A | AFA faf | d3- d :|