Banjo Breakdown jig

Also known as Yankee, The Yankee.

There are 7 recordings of a tune by this name.

Banjo Breakdown has been added to 1 tune set.

Banjo Breakdown has been added to 109 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
AAA c2 e|a2 e c2 e|AAA d2 f| a2 f d2 f|AAA c2 e|a2 e c2 e|BBB c2 e|BBB c2 e|AAA c2 e|a2 e c2 e|AAA d2 f| a2 f d2 f|efg agf|e2 d c2 B|Ace aec|A3 A3||a2 e c2 e|a2 e c2 e| a2 f d2 f| a2 f d2 f|a2 e c2 e|a2 e c2 e|BBB c2 e|BBB c2 e|a2 e c2 e|a2 e c2 e|efg agf|e2 d c2 B|Ace aec|A3 A3||AAA c2 e|AAA c2 e|BBB d2 f|BBB d2 f|AAA c2 e|AAA c2 e|B2 e ccc|BBB c2 e|AAA c2 e|AAA c2 e|BBB d2 f|BBB d2 f|efg agf|e2 d c2 B2| Ace aec|A3 A3|| aee cee| aee cee| aff dff| aff dff| aee cee| aee cee|BBB c2 e|BBB c2 e| aee cee| aee cee| aff dff| aff dff| efg agf| e2 dc2 B| Ace aec|A3 A3||
X: 2
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: e |A>AA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | A>AA d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 A>AA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | B>BB c2 e | B>BB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 ||
|: e |a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | a2 f d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | B>BB c2 e | B>BB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 a2 ||
|: e |A>AA c2 e | A>AA c2 e | B>BB d2 f | B>BB d2 f |
[1 A>AA c2 e | A>AA c2 e | B2 e ccc | BBB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 ||
|: e |aee cee | aee cee | aff dff | aff dff |
[1 aee cee | aee cee | Bee cee | Bee c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 a2 |]
X: 3
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|Ad/f/ a/f/d/f/|Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|\
Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|Ad/f/ a/f/d/f/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|
a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|a/f/d/f/ A/f/d/f/|a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|\
a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|a/f/d/f/ A/f/d/f/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|
A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|B/d/f/d/ B/d/f/d/|A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|\
A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|B/d/f/d/ B/d/f/d/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|
X: 4
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|: A |D3 F2 A | d2 A F2 A | D3 G2 B | d2 B G2 B |
[1 D3 F2 A | d2 A F2 A | E3 F2 A | E3 F2A :|
[2 ABc dcB | ABA GFE | DFA dAF | D3 D2 ||
|: A |d2 A F2 A | d2 A F2 A | d2 B G2 B | d2 B G2 B |
[1 d2 A F2 A | d2 A F2 A | E3 F2 A | E3 F2A :|
[2 ABc dcB | ABA GFE | DFA dAF | D3 d2 ||
|: A |D3 F2 A | D3 F2 A | E3 G2 B | E3 G2 B |
[1 D3 F2 A | D3 F2 A | E3 F3 | E3 F3 :|
[2 ABc dcB | ABA GFE | DFA dAF | D3 D2 ||
|: A |dAA FAA | dAA FAA | dBB GBB | dBB GBB |
[1 dAA FAA | dAA FAA | EAA FAA | EAA F2 :|
[2 ABc dcB | ABA GFE | DFA dAF | D3 d2 |]
# Added by JACKB .
X: 5
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
e |: AAA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | AAA d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 AAA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | BBB c2 e | BBB c2 e :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 z ||
|: a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | a2 f d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | BBB c2 e | BBB c2 e :|
|2 efg agf | efe dcB |Ace aec | A3 a2 e ||
|: AAA c2 e | AAA c2 e | BBB d2 f | BBB d2 f |
[1 AAA c2 e | AAA c2 e | B2 e ccc | BBB c2 e :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 e ||
|: aee cee | aee cee | aff dff | aff dff |
[1 aee cee | aee cee | Bee cee | Bee c2 e :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 .a2- a |]
X: 6
T: Banjo Breakdown
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
M: 4/4
|:A/A/Ace aece | A/A/Adf afdf | A/A/Ace aece | B/B/ec/c/e B/B/e (3dcB |
A/A/Ace aece | A/A/Adf afdf | eagf edcB | A/A/aec A/A/A a2 :|
|: A/A/aca A/A/aca | A/A/ada A/A/ada | A/A/aca A/A/aca | B/B/aca B/B/aca |
A/A/aca A/A/aca | A/A/ada A/A/ada | eagf edcB | A/A/aec A/A/A a2 :|

Twenty-five comments

Posted in respone to a request by g00se. I think this tune is American. It should be played with a lilt to it.

In Richard Robinson’s Tunebook, Scotland is cited as the origin of this tune. It is certainly part of the Highland piping repertoire.

Sorry - Corrections.

This is a Scottish pipe-tune.
There are no G sharps - all are natural.
There are no high "b" notes, that should be "B"[ end of 2nd line of music].
Two bars have been missed out in the 2nd part.
7th and 8th bars in 4th part are not what is commonly played.

Posted by .

Have edited ABC, thanx kenny. This is my setting of the tune so it is slightly different. I’ve always been told it is American though

I could not find this tune any where on the web! Many Thanks snowyowl

I looked all over the place for this tune(on the internet that is). I have a short recording of it (played on the bag pipes). Becasue the name of the tune contains Banjo i thought it was Bluegrass? Whatever it is. it sounds good on the Mandolin!

Thanks again

Posted by .

One of the original flash tunes

This used to be a kitchen tune long before Norman Gillies got hold of the Mason’s Apron. There used to be versions of it in every rhythm imaginable - hornpipe, reel, strathspey, jig, etc, plus a couple of really wierd and wonderful creations never heard now. Kitchen piping is by far the most poorly studied aspect of Highland piping, but snatches of it exist in the literature going as far back as you care to look…

Posted by .

Banjo Breakdown

This is a very old bagpipe tune. it was written by Donald MacPhee and first published in 1876 as ‘Yankee’, a hornpipe. it has been played as a strathspey, a jig and a reel.
there are eight parts.
See ‘The Highland Bagpipe and its Music’, by Roderick Cannon, FSA(Scot). John Donald Publishers Edinburgh 1995.
topsedin

“Plethen Peswar Luf” / “The 4-Hand Reel” (the dance) ~ relatives? ;-)

Key signature: D Major
Submitted on January 18th 2007 by ceolachan.
https://thesession.org/tunes/6656

“The Banjo Breakdown” ~ filling in blanks and other ways

K: A Major
|: e |
A>AA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | A>AA d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 A>AA c2 e | a2 e c2 e | B>BB c2 e | B>BB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 ||
|: e |
a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | a2 f d2 f | a2 f d2 f |
[1 a2 e c2 e | a2 e c2 e | B>BB c2 e | B>BB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 a2 ||
|: e |
A>AA c2 e | A>AA c2 e | B>BB d2 f | B>BB d2 f |
[1 A>AA c2 e | A>AA c2 e | B2 e ccc | BBB c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 A2 ||
|: e |
aee cee | aee cee | aff dff | aff dff |
[1 aee cee | aee cee | Bee cee | Bee c2 :|
[2 efg agf | efe dcB | Ace aec | A3 a2 ||

“The Fiddle Music of the Scottish Highlands: Ceol na Fidhle Volumes 1 & 2”

Compiled and arranged by Christine Martin
Published by Taigh na Teud, Isle of Skye, 1998 / 2002
ISBN: 1-871931-320

Page 78: "Banjo Breakdown"

This is a great little collection, recommended, and it also comes with recordings, 2 Cds in the modern edition…

“Banjo Breakdown” ~ more than one probably ‘misunderstanding’

1800’s ~ same ol, same ol?

First, if not already obvious, this has a more secure feel as being 4/4. Who’s to say that the folks back then didn’t make the same mistakes we still do to this day? Yeah, someone in Scotland has put their name to it way back in 1876’s ~ and curiously by the name "Yankee"!? Does that and ‘Breakdown’ suggest an American connection? I think so. When I said this was familiar in the ‘Comments’ for "Plethen Peswar Luf" above I should have said that I had a sneaking suspicion I’d seen it in one of the several American tune collections…but I couldn’t prove it because I don’t have access to much of my library at the moment, which includes the likes of Howe’s and Cole’s.

And putting your name to what exactly? I have seen old 32 bar tunes macerated at the hands of pipers many times ~ including questionable claims in old piping collections. Alright, I can imagine they ‘ARRANGED’ it from your old standard 32 bar dance tune ~ into a multi-part behemoth, yeah, but it seems a bit silly to put your name to it, however, the classical musicians did it, and the Scots are well impressed to the point of following that fad, especially pipers, and it isn’t just Scots pipers, the Northumbrian crowd enjoy a fancy like that too. Go on, give me any 32 bar tune and tell me how many parts of variations you want… :-/ Of course, they do that in the classical style too, getting progressively notey as they go along. In some cases there’s also the practice of taking one melody and making it into different tune forms ~ no change there either, nothing new.

"Breakdown" ~ yeah, well, mostly I have found that name attached to 4/4 melodies, not that you couldn’t do else with any title.

So, my conclusions, and I may be wrong, but I think that the Scots piper mentioned above, Donald MacPhee, DIDN’T actually compose this melody, but dicked around with it and made it into an 8-part collection of variations, very common… There are other examples on site here, and some Irish, like Sean Maguire, enjoyed the same fancy…not always feeling the need to put their name to it.

Look close at this 4-part transcription, the 3rd & 4th parts are just variations on the 1st & 2nd. Also, as said, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen a 4/4 swung tune taken as a jig… In this case the repeat of that ‘mistake’ has been carried over time…

Alright, now I expect to be thrashed by my peers and superiors. It wouldn’t be the first time… We have this want to believe the past is sacrosanct, that they knew what they were about. Come on gang, how many times has Thomas Tallis been ripped off, and not always credited, and then the composer, some famous, put their own name to the variations and arrangement? It is still being done, and on site here, sometimes with only a measure of difference, or a change of key, if that… ;-)

Banjo Breakdown as played by Dysart and Dundonald

Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band - the World Champions in the 1970s - have an interesting arrangement of this tune with jig and hornpipe versions and involving a harmonic "Bluebells of Scotland" on their CD "Live in Concert - Ballymena 1983" which is currently released.

I hope to shortly have the jig version of this tune on the Celtic Fringe website with added fifth and sixth part variations.

Falsely Accused!

Donald MacPhee made no claim to have composed the tune.
He does have some of his own compositions in the book, which he attributes accordingly, but doesn’t put a name to the source of this tune.
Moreover, it has only three parts in his setting - a 2/4 pipe hornpipe.

Here it is sans gracing (which was pretty basic):

X:1
T:Yankee
S:A Selection of Music for the Highland Bagpipe
S:Donald MacPhee,1876
M:2/4
L:1/8
R:Hornpipe
K:Hp
|:c/B/|\
Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|Ad/f/ a/f/d/f/|Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|\
A/d/c/d/ A/d/c/d/|
Ac/e/ a/e/c/e/|Ad/f/ a/f/d/f/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|
|:g|\
a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|a/f/d/f/ A/f/d/f/|a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|\
G/d/c/d/ G/d/c/d/|
a/e/c/e/ A/e/c/e/|a/f/d/f/ A/f/d/f/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|
|:e|\
A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|B/d/f/d/ B/d/f/d/|A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|\
G/B/d/B/ G/B/d/B/|
A/c/e/c/ A/c/e/c/|B/d/f/d/ B/d/f/d/|f/g/a/f/ e/c/d/B/|AA/A/ A:|

I can see why it is regarded as a clog by some Cape Breton pipers.

http://www.thebagpipeplace.com/museum/page118.html

Glasgow was much involved in the cotton trade with the US in MacPhee’s time - having moved there from a long history in the tobacco trade. It’s quite possible the tune did hop across in a bale of cotton.

Then again, he could have picked up the tune at Gartnavel loony bin:

"Baptie (1894) has a detailed and no doubt fairly reliable account of MacPhee’s career: he was born at Coatbridge, c. 1841, his parents both being from Islay. As a boy he began working in
the coal mines, and his early interest in music was to play first on the tin whistle, then on the flute. It is not known who taught him to play the pipes. He later became a message-boy to the
resident physician at Gartnavel Lunatic Asylum. At one time he was associated with the Forbes brothers, famous Highland dancers and sword-fencers. He became an excellent piper and competed successfully, especially in marches, strathspeys and reels. About 1871 he set up in business as a bagpipe-maker, in West Nile Street, Glasgow, then moved to 17 Royal Arcade.
The firm prospered but his health gave way under the strain, and he died early, on 9 December 1880. He was succeeded in the pipe-making business by Peter Henderson, but the copyrights of
his books were acquired by Logan & Co. All the above is from Baptie, but a more recent writer has added that ‘his mind gave way and he died in confinement’ (Piping Times, August 1972)."

http://www.silverchanter.com/pages/317_1876_A_Selection_of_Tunes_by_Donald_MacPhee_Rev_01.pdf

Thanks for the transcript, the story and the links…

This is my altime favourite tune. There are many different versions i have heard from one place in scotland to another. I dont think it is that important to argue about where it came from and just appreciate the wonderful tune it is. Does it really matter who wrote it. All the people who have claimed to write it are long dead anyway. I love this tune so so much

This is a great tune which I personally think is rightly claimed as having first seen the light of day as a pipe tune. For what it is worth I’ve always thought of it as a hornpipe too and now seeing the Donald McPhee title of Yankee I am even more inclined to believe this true. A Yankee being a fore sail flown above and forward of the jib.

Banjo Breakdown, X:4

Piping version

Posted by .

Banjo Breakdown

The version I have is Amix, not Amaj …. the G# doesn’t seem to fit to me. I also wanted to contribute a version easier to read

Re: Banjo Breakdown

Er, xurdesc, not the right video?? Nothing like Banjo Breakdown nor your score!! (Going to YouTube confirms that it’s 2 reels - "The Dirty Bee" by Ross Ainslie and "Clueless" by Gordon Duncan.)
We play it as a jig, much as Erin’s score above.

Re: Banjo Breakdown

"The Banjo Breakdown" is indeed in the above video but one, but played he’s playing a piper’s hornpipe version, [ from 5.18 ] and not the original jig version.

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