Bang Your Frog on the Sofa
Ummm, I’m always reluctant to post my own daydreams on this site, but some are just too much fun to play.
Before you call the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals folks, let me assure you that no frogs were harmed in the development of this tune…. The title and the tune it inspired came from last night’s session here in Helena Montana. I was sitting on a padded bench at theedge of the cirlce and we were blazing away on a set of reels, tossing bowed triplets around like feed to the chickens, and trying mightily to overcome the boisterous patrons at the other end of the bar, when, out of the blue, I played my first and only perfect Tommy Peoples’ triplet. It had that trademark cranny "tchk" sound of Mr. Peoples, and it came at a really unexpected (at least for me) place in the tune.
The fiddler sitting next to me noticed my new-found talent, and when the set ended he asked me, over the din from the happy hour crowd, how I did it. To which I shouted my reply, "The perfect Peoples’ triplet is easy—all you have to do is [and the noise level in the bar abruptly fell to a whisper] BANG YOUR FROG ON THE SOFA!"
All manner of perplexed expressions turned my way in the silence that followed, and I honestly didn’t understand what the confusion was at first. It seemed like a reasonable enough thing for a fiddler to say, after all, until the more mundane sense of frog "leaped" (groan) to mind. And then the guitar players, of course, :-) had to go and add all sorts of innuendo and off-color possibilities to the mix….
So the tune started unfolding after I got home from the session, and there it is. I even found some opportunities to throw bowed triplets into it, with or without banging your frog ;-D
Heh. Gotta love those inopportune silences…what a great story, Will!
Bang your frog on the sofa
Will, that’s a mighty tune (dark and meloncholy, in contrast to the hilarity of the story behind it ). I love the key of Dm, and those low, dark notes….are you playing it with any other tunes yet?
Bang your frog
Thanks Aoife! Yes, Dm has a nice bluesy, jazzy feel to it, and it’s underappreciated in IRTRAD. I think my mind wandered there for this tune because (once I quit thinking of fiddle bow frogs) I couldn’t get the image of some poor defenseless tree frog geing thwacked against a sofa cushion—so the darkness and melancholy comes from the frog’s point of few…. : - )
I’m still letting the tune seep into my fingers, but I’ve noticed that Maudabawn Chapel fits okay with it. It’s also nice to go from Eileen Curran into Bang Your Frog. I also like going from D major into this, say from Bobby Casey’s Reel (the one I posted here a few weeks back).
I was just playing this tune - mind you I love flat keys, but I think this one works better in D Maj. It sounds like it could have come from Ennis’s pipes in D maj, but the Dmin almost sounds "forced" or something. Just a li’l musician to musician critique not a personal attack.
DMix works nicely too.
Banging Frog’s in different keys
Hey, I’m just tickled that anyone else is playing this. Then to find out that it works in other modes (duh, never would’ve occurred to me to try that) is icing on the cake. Cool. Thanks for reminding me to take off the blinders once in a while.
It’s a crackin’ tune Will, I think it’s on it’s first step to become "traditionalized" by being transmuted into Dmix.. if that’s OK by you. Next thing you know it’ll be called "The Green Feilds of Montana" than it’ll turn up on a rare homemade coleman b-side & a variation will be found in O’Neill’s etc etc etc….
As I’ve played this tune since November, a few minor changes or variations have crept in, such as:
For the first bar, I sometimes play it without the long c note: |DFAd cAGB|
Then in the 5th measure of Part A, instead of |Adde fedc| I now play it |Adde fdec|
Some surprises have crept into the B part too, but suddenly they’ve gone fuzzy (no doubt the after effects of last night’s fun). If I can remember them again, I’ll post them here.
Bang Your Frog On The Sofa
Because of the Key ( Dm is not the best for the flute ), I have not tried to play this tune when I have seen it the first time.( sorry for my english ).
Now I transposed it to Em, and I discovered it’s a beautiful tune.
Story told by Glauber about a session from last night…
Without asking his permission, but oh well, sorry Glaubs… :)
So last night Rob, this great amazing mandolin player, starts on a funky D minor reel, very fast. I give him my best WTF look, and he says:
"Oh, this is from thesession.org, it’s called Bang Your Frog Against The Sofa, hehe! They have great tunes there!"
"I know, it’s by Will Harmon!"
At that point i could have said "The Fiddler from Helena Handbasket", or "I know, i have a lot of his books" or "I talked with him on the phone a couple of weeks ago, and just missed a chance to meet him", but i just sat there thinking that for a moment i glimpsed the weird center of it all.
This Tune Won Me The Fleadh!!!!!!!!
wll i never knew tha this tune was compoed so recently and by you, i played this tune at the london feadh an it got m a old medal, i thank you for writig what meny people have said is one of the nicest tunes that has ever been written, will you have a talent, keep it up, and thankyou.
gold medal lol *****
Oooo, how cool! Hee! I love following this tune around, it cracks me up!
I’m knocked speechless…and I guess I better go dust off my own tune or I’ll be the only one who can’t play it :o) Maybe it’s time to force the issue with my session mates…..
So Liam, did you play it in D minor as written here, or transpose it to a more banjo-friendly key? I’m just getting the hang of tenor banjo myself—I’ll give this tune a go on it. Again, congrats to you for the gold!
congratulations Liam.. and Will!
i played it in Dminor onl ykey ot sounds gd in, in my humble opinion.
Will, you ARE playing this one for The Mighty Craic, yeah? Aren’t you?
My tape recorder broke. If the deadline gets bumped, maybe someone can record me playing it at the April rendezvous. But I’d rather hear Liam play it!
Liam se cheo maybe. :)
Hey we’ll fool around with GarageBand & have you record several settings… rumba, urban, Davey Spillane, etc. But seriously, congrats Will, that is really really impressive! Liam too! Kudos!!
Only just found this
Thank you Mr Harmon - Good one
What a funny name
what a funny name!
and a funny story too…
congrats to both liam and will
Played it on banjo along with DADGAD-guitar (by DADdyGADdy) at our local Copenhagen Session at Bloomsdays Bar last sunday. Uptempo, and it rocked! Yeah!
Thanks for that!
great tune. Well done and thanks for writing it.
Now it’s been around for a while
I think the story alone makes this tune worth playing! I’m a fiddler, so can anyone tell me which key it works best in for the fiddle and which tunes would be good to precede or follow? Perhaps something with an equally good name like "Kick the dog out the door." If it’s not already composed, perhaps it’s time for Will to have another creative evening at the pub….
I just got an e-mail from someone about mechanical copyright for this tune, asking if I had a contact e-mail for Will. Apparently lots of people are playing it and thinking that Tommy Peoples wrote it. I don’t know who will be more flattered, Will or Tommy. :)
Excuse me, young man, but aren’t you Tommy Peoples? *smirk*
I love this tune, good job. I think it goes very well before and slightly slower than Catharsis.
Awesome tune, Will!
i just live tunes in d minor, because if you want, you can play it slow and jazzy, or you can speed it up to sound dark and eerie and fiddley at the same time. oh, and just something for martin clark, who posted before me, im a huge Catharsis fan, and yeah, your right, the two tunes go very nicely with one another :o)
Glad you clarified the title. Are you considering banging something else on the sofa to create another bowing technique? lol
Second tune in this video:
One of these days, I will find a way of playing this tune on flute… or get better on mandolin… Just a great tune, though!
Some interesting tunes to pair this with: Exile of Erin, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, and Maids of Mount Cisco.
Now officially Frog is traditional from the UK
"Now officially Frog is traditional from the UK"
Hmm…no. They’ve obviously failed to observe the rights of the composer, but nowhere does it say it’s from the UK.
"Folk & Traditional, tunes and songs, mainly from the British Isles and other English speaking countries."
Just about includes the US.
First got my attention due to the title - why not! Using it as a practice tune on the banjo, but starting to really really enjoy it, love the descending run at the end.
Re: Bang Your Frog On The Sofa
The title also piqued my interest … took it to my violin teacher last night. Her first reaction was wanting to hate this tune (solely because of the title, which does, unfortunately, lend itself to all sorts of jokes, some not so nice…) - Well, she ended up loving it! I’m working on it now :) Great story about how this song came to be :) I’m lovin’ it!
I’m sure Will would approve.
Re: Bang Your Frog On The Sofa
And it travels round they world and when I was in Fuersteneck in Germany, I heard it played by a wonderful fiddle play (Nancy Fuellmer) and just had to ask what it was. I have since learned it by ear and love it! It is a little more complex on the fiddle than many other tunes. Thank you Will.