This is a supremely silly sounding hornpipe. It’s a lot of fun to play once you get the hang of it jumping all over the place.
The last part (which always sounds to me like somebody falling down the stairs) is usually played with triplets all the way through. In other words, instead of just playing FGEF, you would play FGF EFE; instead of playing DECD, you would play DED CDC, etc. If you do this for the entire run-down, the result is pretty funny. Get used to playing it as it’s shown here first, before attempting to put in all those triplets.
The Belfast sounds really good if you play Hrvest Home after it - I also slip in Boys of Bluehill sometimes. They go together as if they were meant to. I think this is how James Galway played them, but that can’t be helped!
An Oldie But a …
Doesn’t sound silly to me at all. A really popular tune of yesteryear, overplayed and fell out of favour, I’d say. Certainly would be helped by a better setting than the one on offer here - the run down in triplets being standard in most of the sources where I’ve heard it over the years.
In many places a set consisting of this tune along with Harvest Home and the Boys of Bluehill (and sometimes, god forbid The Trumpet!) are usual. If you ask me this is one of the reasons these tunes are out of favour. As a set they are monotonous and too long. As individual tunes they are gems. Oh well.
Too Much Hornpipe?
This is a very hornpipe-y hornpipe. I imagine followed by Harvest Home (another very characteristic hornpipe), it would sound nice, but adding Boys of Bluehill and the Trumpet is probably just too much hornpipe! Not to mention too much D Major… I prefer to change up the old set and play Dunphy’s after The Belfast… It’s a nice little tune, and it isn’t as overplayed as Harvest Home. Plus the key change into G gives it some contrast and fills out the set. Both are really good for playing for dancers, and if you need to keep playing longer, you can add Boys of Bluehill after Dunphy’s.
The Belfast Hornpipe
Here’s how it’s played in our local sesh. Whistle players seem to like it, though it’s hard to get around the campy C part. Seems designed to please the punters, less so the musicians. One of our whistle players hauled this out a few years back in a session with Ged Foley, and Ged’s comment at the end was, "I didn’t know anyone actually played that one."
T: Belfast, The
ag|:f/a/f df AdFA|DFAd f/g/f ef|gbeg ceAF|GABG E2 ag|
f/a/f df AdFA|DFAd f/g/f ef|gfed cABc|1 d2 f2 d2 ag:|2 d2 f2 d2 D/E/F||
GFGA Bcde|fgfe dcdB|A2f2 fe f2|G2 e2 ed eF|
GFGA Bcde|fgfe dcdB|Afed cABc|1 d2 f2 d2 D/E/F:|2 d2 f2 d2 ag||
f/g/f e/f/e d/e/d c/d/c|B/c/B A/B/A G2 ba|g/a/g f/g/f e/f/e d/e/d|c/d/c B/c/B A2 ag|
f/g/f e/f/e d/e/d c/d/c|B/c/B A/B/A G/A/G F/G/F|Eged cA A/B/c|d2 f2 d2 ag:||
If you find this tune difficult to play, you’re probably not playing it as it was originally meant to be played. Of course it’s your choice how you want to play it, but if you want to make life easier for yourself, do the following:
1) Slow down
2) For every bar, count "1, 2, 3, rest"
3) Even out your triplets and don’t rush them as implied in the transcription above
4) Don’t emphasize the 3rd beat of every bar otherwise it’s going to sound "campy", as Will puts it
5) Imagine you’re playing in 12/8, like this:
T: The Belfast Hp
a2g|f2a d2f A2d F2A|D2F A2d f3 e2f|g2b e2g c2e A2F|G2A B2G E3 a2g|
f2a d2f A2d F2A|D2F A2d f3 e2f|g2f e2d c2A B2c|d3 f3 d3:|
|:D3|G2F G2A B2c d2e|f2g f2e d2c d2B|A3 f3 f2e f3|G3 e3 e2d e3|
G2F G2A B2c d2e|f2g f2e d2c d2B|A2f e2d c2A B2c|d3 f3 d3:|
|:a2g|fgf efe ded cdc|BcB ABA G3 b2a|gag fgf efe ded|cdc BcB A3 a2g|
fgf efe ded cdc|BcB ABA GAG FGF|E2f e2d c2A B2c|d3 f3 d3:|
If you do that then you have the space to do stuff with it, like vary it with some more triplets, like this:
a2g|faf dfd AdA FAF|D2F A2d f3 e2f|gbg ege cec A2F|G2A B2G E3 a2g|
faf dfd AdA FAF|D2F A2d f3 e2f|g2f e2d c2A B2c|d3 f3 d3:|
I know this may sound blasphemous, but does anyone else think the Belfast sounds a bit James Hill-ish? Would anyone know who composed it?
You know how I hate agreeing with you, KML, but I think you’re right. It’s definitely in the same style, and the tune was around during his lifetime. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone discovered that he’d written it.
“The Great Western Clog”
T: Great Western
S: Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1886
|: (a>g) |\
f>ad>f A>dF>A | D>FA>d f2 e>f | g>be>g c>eA>F | G>AB>G E2 a>g |
f>ad>f A>dF>A | D>FA>d f2 e>f | g>bg>e c>AB>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
|: D2 |\
G>FG>A B>cd>e | f3 e d>cd>B | A2 f2 f>Af>A | B2 e2 e>Ge>G |
G>FG>A B>cd>e | f3 e d>cd>B | A>fe>d c>AB>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
|: (a>g) |\
(3fgf (3efe (3ded (3cdc | (3BcB (3ABA G2 a>g | (3gag (3fgf (3efe (3ded | (3cdc (3BcB A2 a>g) |
(3fgf (3efe (3ded (3cdc | (3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3FGF | E>ge>d c>AB>c | d2 f2 d2 :|
The Belfast Hornpipe
Watch Belfast flute players Michael Clarkson and Harry Bradley playing the tune: http://youtu.be/sj_9CsMaY6w?t=5s
A tin whistle version here:
The Belfast Hornpipe
There is a super piano version of this Belfast Hornpipe in the key of B flat on YouTube.
It’s played by someone in a green shirt so he looks a bit like a leprechaun, and who goes by the name of "breslinr"
The Belfast, X:6
This is the setting that I play based on multiple versions that I have heard. I have taken the best parts of each of them.
The Belfast, X:7
Before the wonders of the internet I used to record Radio Scotland’s folk programs onto cassette and learn tunes from the recordings. This was the version of The Belfast Hornpipe I learnt from one of those programs, probably broadcast around ‘89 or ‘90. It was recorded by a whistle player but unfortunately the name of the musician has been lost in the fug of my memory.
The Belfast, X:8
Brendan Mulholland’s version from Jean’s Hill