The Hesleyside reel

There are 15 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Hesleyside has been added to 13 tune sets.

The Hesleyside has been added to 104 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: The Hesleyside
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
GA|"G"B2 dB AGAB|GABc d2 ef|"C"gfge "G"dBGB|"Am"e2 A2 "D"A2 GA|
"G"B2 dB AGAB|GABc d2 ef|"C"gfge "G"dBGA|"D"B2 G2 "G"G2:|
|:Bd|"C"edef gfge|"G"dBGB d2 Bd|"C"edef gfge|"G"dBGB "D"A2 GA|
"G"B2 dB AGAB|GABc d2 ef|"C"gfge "G"dBGA|"D"B2 G2 "G"G2:|
X: 2
T: The Hesleyside
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
B2dB eBdB|AGFE D2EF|GFGE DEGA|1 B2G2 G2:|2 B2G2 G3F||
B2dg bage|dBGA B2BA|GFGE DEGA|1 B2G2 G3F:|2 B2G2 G3||

Thirty-eight comments

Hesleyside Reel

This is an English tune. I learned it from the playing of the High Level Ranters. Pretty typically English, but it’s a great energetic tune and I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t shown up here yet.

Odd - it does work as a reel, but it’s built like a hornpipe: those three quarter notes at the endings, the B part with the repeat of the last four bars of the A part. All hallmarks of hornpipes.

I’m trying to figure out why so many English tunes don’t inspire me to play them. I think partly it’s that they have no ambiguity, no mystery about what mode they might be in. Pedestrian melodies that lend themselves to pedestrian phrasings. This tune puts me in mind of any number of more interesting tunes I’d rather play: Crowley’s #1, The Killavil Reel, etc. In short, in 25 years I’ve never heard the Hesleyside Reel at a session, and to me it adds little to the repertoire.

But that’s just me. I don’t mean to sound so disparaging. But neither am I surprised that this tune hasn’t shown up here before now.

Posted .

It’s a shame you generalize like that Will - there are some great English reels that aren’t “pedestrian”. Having said that, I agree about this tune. It’s never been one of my favourites! It’s a very common tune where I’m from though, so it’s one of those tunes you pick up anyway. I think that part of the problem with this tune is the way it’s played. I don’t think it makes a very interesting reel. Played as a rant it might be a bit more appealing. Might 🙂

But Mark, my generalizing was restrained: I said “so many” English tunes, not all. Yes, “some” English tunes are fine. But the good ones are few and far between. This one sounds like a tune Wallace would enjoy, while I tend to favor those that Grommet might prefer….

Posted .

this tune was written by Tommy Elliot about the home of the Charlton family on the banks of the Tyne. You can give it quite a lift if you play in A major mind you…

Okay Will fair enough. I just get a bit disappointed when people come across a tune they think is crap and the reason they give is “because it’s English”, rather than just saying “it’s a crap tune”. I’m afraid to say that the motive for making that sort of judgement probably has little to do with the music. I mean, whenever I come across an Irish tune I think is crap, I just say “that’s a crap tune and I don’t like it”, I don’t say or imply that “it’s because it’s Irish”, unless I’m trying to wind people up 😀

Mea culpa. You’re right. Irish tunes that lack ambiguity or mystery also don’t inspire me to play them. It’s just that over the years I’ve noticed tunes that leave me numb are often of English or Welsh origin. Mind you, it’s NOT that I know beforehand that they’re English or Welsh and pass judgment before even hearing or playing them. Just the reverse--it’s not an unusual occurence that I hear a tune, think, “Well, I won’t bother learning that one,” and then discover that it’s from the Morris dance repertoire or some such. And although I did call them “pedestrian,” I didn’t say they were “crap.” Just not my cuppa tea. I readily accept that some people enjoy them, and the tunes certainly have value for that. I’m also aware that many of the tunes I play and enjoy are great tunes and no doubt have English and Welsh origins or influences.

While I’m at it, and speaking of pedestrian, the compositions and vocal stylings of Neil Diamond, to a song, also leave me cold. :-|

Posted .

Um, in short, I don’t base my likes and dislikes on where a tune is from (unless we’re still talking about Mr. Diamond). Yet repeatedly I’ve come across tunes (that turn out to be from the English tradition) that don’t tickle my brisket. That’s all I was saying above.

Posted .

Oh go on with you Will, saying it’s crap is okay! “Pedestrian” is a much better word though isn’t it? Now, one of these days I must get round to posting some more dag for you, so you can see just how bad English tunes can get. You’d love that wouldn’t you? This tune doesn’t even come close 🙂

That’s just it--this isn’t a crap tune. I’d play it sooner than the Concertina Reel, if anyone in my session happened to know the Hesleyside. But they don’t.

It’s just that under the tradeoffs inherent in my time left on earth divided by tunes yet to learn, I prefer to play mostly undagnified tunes.

Posted .

I’m suddenly drawing a blank…what the heck *is* a brisket anyway? 🙂

Posted .

It’s your bosom, Will 🙂

What’s my bosom? And why do you care? 🙂

Posted .

Is there something you want to get off your brisket Will? (Reference to “generosity” thread)

Aren’t briskets those little flavourless woven crackers?

Lol, yer on fire tonight, Ms Brown.

Posted .

Triscuits? I prefer toast (“Crackin’ toast, Grommet.”) With Wensleydale cheese….

Posted .

I’m on fire every night, Mr. Harmon. My bedroom is over the furnace.

That’s a *lot* of information.

Posted .

Ah, but I didn’t say where the furnace is, did I!

(Although, one could logically infer it’s under my bedroom…)

We played it last Wednesday - it is quite a regular tune around the Selby sessions.

Well, sure, it’ll get played in your parts Geoff. Here in Montana we sometimes get treated to a rendition of cowboy poetry or the ‘Git Along Little Doggies’ song. But that doesn’t make it a standard part of the typical Irish session.

I wouldn’t mind if a tune like this came up at a session now and then. But I won’t go out of my way (not that I’d have to - it’s mindlessly simple) to learn it either.

Posted .

Its Not English

Hesleyside is near Morpeth. So if its crap, its Northumbrian crap.

It is a reel (not a rant)and yes itdoessoundmoresprightly in A but thepipers don’t like it. Bit of a cheek considering that they play it in abit sharp of F.

Once we get our regional assembly in November we’ll be able totake you tothe court of human rights for confusing Geordies with less favoured Britishers.

Well we’ll just countersue you for implying that people from Morpeth are Geordies!


Northumbria not English ???!!!!???

Now you’re being silly.

Anyway, it’s a great tune when played properly with all the variations and stuff. Maybe you’re just no good at playing it 😛

Wow - what a scrap!

I have to agree with the people who love this tune - it’s all in the rhythm and ornamentation. What’s wrong with simple tunes anyway? I know loads of Irish tunes as simple as this. Northumberland is politically in England, but generally accepted as an autonomous region regarding its folk music traditions, and the music does have a strong Celtic tinge -particulary Scots- and I think this tune sounds particularly Scottish and not very English! It works well as a Rant too. I presume you think it’s boring because it’s major rather than modal, but wouldn’t sessions be boring if everything was dorian and mixolydian? The odd major tune gives a great mood change.

Posted by .

The Hesleyside Reel

I think this is a great tune. It’s probably heard to best advantage played by a really good Northumbrian piper, backed by an equally knowledgeable guitarist, or even better a cittern player (the nicest-sounding of the new large mandola-type things, in my opinion). The tune features on Kathryn Tickell’s first record, “On Kielder Side”, maybe now unobtainable; there it was played with four parts, to advantage I thought. (I don’t know who composed parts 3 and 4.) She may play it on a later album, with how many parts I don’t know.

Come to think of it, THE tune for a Northumbrian piper to play before “The Hesleyside Reel” would be the slow 3/4 tune “Sweet Hesleyside”, about the same place. The tunes really go hand-in-hand.
- And definitely a cittern to go with them.

The Hesleyside Reel - Here are parts three and four, and they’re good!

Here are parts 3 and 4, as played by K. Tickell on the record I noted above:


|:EDEF GFGE|DGBe d2Bd|e2ed BcBA|GABG A2GA|B2dg bage|dBGA B2BA|GFGE DEGA|B2G2 G3F:|B2G2 G3|

I think they’re well worth learning/playing.

(The last two bars of the above parts should read as follows:

|1 B2 G2 G2 GA:|2 B2 G2 G3 F|

|1 B2 G2 G3 F|2 B2 G2 G2|)

Small point. Just learned it from an Anderson/Atkins/Hutton recording . gfge bits in the B part given here are played gage

I’ve come very late to this discussion but I agree its a cracking tune, I learnt it many years ago from the late great master of the moothie, Will Atkinson. Regarding the cultural question of English tunes v. Celtic tunes, Northumbrian music has far more connection with Scots and Shetland music [and to a lesser extent Irish] than it does with southern English, East Anglian or Cotswold Morris

Hesleyside was the headquarters of the Charlton family, one of the families of Border Reivers of whom an official wrote: “They are people that will be Scottish when they will and English at their pleasure.” That’s Northumbrian music for you - fast and ornamented in a manner very far from the current stereotype of English music, but with an ever-present punctuation which says it isn’t Scottish either. Anyone who knows the style could tell blindfold that they were standing outside a Northumbrian session without knowing where they were or who was inside.

Re: The Hesleyside

Odd how much dissing there is of a tune which gets them rocking in the aisles, when played right.

Re: The Hesleyside

Despite the negative feedback here, I stuck this tune after Lord Cathcart’s welcome to Scotland … in the Northumbrian Pipes friendly key of F. 😀

Played on my Hammered Dulcimer & English Concertina.


Re: The Hesleyside

Nice one, Dick!
And we now have more people “for” the tune than “against” it. I like it too, and that suggested combination (made by nicholas) of putting Sweet Hesleyside before it works so well too.