The Branch Line polka

Also known as Betsy Baker, Patsy Baker.

There are 5 recordings of this tune.

The Branch Line appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Branch Line has been added to 26 tunebooks.

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Five settings

1
X: 1
T: The Branch Line
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:e|dG BG|FG Ae|dG Bd|g2 fe|
dG BG|FG Ae|ed cA|G2 G:|
|:a|bg af/a/|gf ed|bg af/a/|g2 ga|
bg af/a/|gf ed|Bd ef|g2 g:|
2
X: 2
T: The Branch Line
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:d>B|AD FD|CD EB|AD FA|de/d/ cB|
AD F/E/D|CD EB|BA GE|D2:|
|:de|fg/f/ ec|dc BA|fg/f/ ec|d2 d>e|
fg/f/ ef/e/|d/e/d/c/ BA|F/G/A Bc|d2:|
3
X: 3
T: The Branch Line
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
e|dB GG|FA Ac|BG Bd|g2 ge|
dB GG|FA Ac|BB dd|G2 G:|
d|ef gg|af dd|ef gg|a2 dd|
ef gg|fa gf|ed ef g2 g:|
4
X: 4
T: The Branch Line
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
e|dB GG|FA Ac|BG Bd|g2 ge|
dB GG|FA Ac|BB dB|G2 G:|
|:d|ef gf/g/|af dd|ef gf/g/|a2 ad|
ef gf/g/|fa gf|ed ef|g2 g:|
5
X: 5
T: The Branch Line
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
e|(dB) (BG)|(FA) (Ac)|(BG) (Bd)|g2 (ge)|
(dB) (BG)|(FA) (Ac)|(BG) dB|G2 G:|
d|(ef) ge|(fa) dd|(ef ga)|f2 d. d.|
(efgf)|(gfga)|(efge)|d3/2B B3/2G|
(FA) (Ac)|(B3/2/G) (B3/2d)|g2 (ge)|d3/2B B3/2G|
(FA) (Ac)|B3/2G d3/2B|G2 G||

Twelve comments

Source: Jack and Charlie Coen - "The Branch Line"
Transcription: gmp

"Betsy Baker"

|: d>B |
AD FD | CD EB | AD FA | de/d/ cB |
AD F/E/D | CD EB | BA GE | D2 :|
|: de |
fg/f/ ec | dc BA | fg/f/ ec | d2 d>e |
fg/f/ ef/e/ | d/e/d/c/ BA | F/G/A Bc | d2 :|

Background

This is played by Jack and Charlie Coen on their cd titled "The Branch Line". It is played together with Mike Coen’s Polka. They noted that these tunes were played a lot by their father, Mike Coen, but that they never heard them played by anyone else. "The Branch Line" is the name given to an intersection on the road from Woodford to Whitegate.

Alias "Mike Coen’s Polka" ~ All in the family? ~ E Dorian / e & b minor 😏

"Mike Coen’s Polka" ~ E Dorian / e minor
Submitted on June 26th 2003 by gian marco.
https://thesession.org/tunes/1779

"Din Tarrant’s Polka" ~ e minor
Submitted on July 16th 2003 by mandozouk.
https://thesession.org/tunes/1825

"Bill the Weaver" ~ b minor
Submitted on August 28th 2003 by whistlemanhimself.
https://thesession.org/tunes/1914

"Bill the Weaver" ~ b minor
Submitted on January 10th 2004 by gian marco.
https://thesession.org/tunes/2375

The name "Betsy Baker" predates Mike Coen, as does the dance of the same name…

Betsy Baker - Isle of Man

The last version that I’ve added above (X3) is played on the Isle of Man, and is known as Betsy Baker. It’s also transcribed in 4/4 in the IOM. I’ve noticed that Bellowhead have recently recorded a ballad called Betsy Baker, but the tune doesn’t seem to bear any resemblance.

Betsy Baker

This is a nice little polka from the Isle of Man. Only about five polkas survive in collections of traditional music in the Island, including versions of Farewell to Whiskey and the Rakes of Mallow, but polkas would almost certainly have been as popular there as elsewhere at the time. It goes well with Sweeney’s and Egan’s.

Betsy Baker

I have added the version found in the mysterious Greet manuscript, "found by Peter Hill in his loft" as referenced by Charles Menteith and Paul Burgess in their book The Colford Jig. Sorry it’s English.

When I said the tune was from the Isle of Man, that’s all I meant: it was collected there. And, in the same vein, its inclusion in the Colford Jig only makes it a tune collected in Gloucestershire.

I certainly didn’t believe it to be a Manx composition - so no apologies or sympathy needed!

There is an early 19th century ballad called Betsy Baker, printed in London, the words of which fit this tune. Two other ballads, Mary Martin and A Trip to the Harvest, give Betsy Baker as the tune to use (and, again, the words scan to the tune), so the ballad publisher must have thought it well known enough to include it. Also, it is a tune in the Rook ms of 1840 ("upwards of 1260 tunes selected by John Rook").

Which only goes to prove a good tune travels.

Betsy Baker

I was at weekend Fla in Andalucia recently and Matt Cranitch (sorry to namedrop but he has to be mentioned) told me about a reel version of Betsy Baker. He and Jackie Daly recorded it for their 2014 CD Rolling On. It’s in The Tunes of the Munster Pipers, number 102, and in O’Neill’s. A case of a good tune both travelling AND getting re-used.