Marianna’s waltz

Marianna's has been added to 11 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: Marianna's
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|ed fd AG|
F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|d2 d4:|
|: (3efe dc de|fe dc ec|cB dB ^GB|BA cA E2|
(3efe dc de|fe dc ec|cB dB ^GB|1 A2 A4:|2 A2 A2 G2||
|F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|ed fd AG|
F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|d2 d4|
|:B=c de d=c|Bd g2 g2|Ad f2 ed|Bd g2 g2|
Bc de d=c|Bd g2 g2|A=c fd ef|g2 g4:|
|F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|ed fd AG|
F2 FE FG|Ad fa gf|fe ge ce|d2 d4||

Sixteen comments

Freeland Barbour

This is a lovely waltz composed by Scottish box player Freeland Barbour. I don’t know what inspired him to write this tune but it has a Scandinavian feel to it. "Marianna" sounds like a Scandinavian name too.

Re the key. D major isn’t really correct. There are actually key changes in the tune in the 2nd and 4th parts to A and G respectively. However, there isn’t a facility for this here and I had to leave it in D and sharpen the G’s in part 2 and flatten the C’s in Part 4. However, you should be able to follow this ok on the sheet music and midi. Accompanists will obviously have to be aware of the key change.

Sorry. By flattening the Cs, I meant changing them from C# to C natural as you will have seen.

Key changes are indeed possible in ABC notation. When you get to the point in the tune where a key change occurs, enter the new key, followed by a backslash and then hit enter for a new line. For example, in a switch from G to A, you’d enter:

K:A\ (followed by an "enter" key for a new line).

Re key change

I don’t think it’s possible with the system on this site though. Perhaps someone can confirm this?

Key change

John, take a look at the abcs here:

I didn’t include the backslash suggested by radriano, but it worked anyway.

Posted .

Thanks Will. I’ll remember that for future reference. However, this tune is quite readable for melody players as it is. There’s only a few notes which have been changed so I’ll just leave it as it is. As long as accompanists note the changes.

John, I often don’t change the key if there are just a few accidentals—I think marking them as accidentals fits the music better, especially where a note might wander (often in micro-tones) from natural to sharp (or flat) and back, or be up to each player’s interpretation (e.g., see Black Haired Lass). In the big scheme of things, I’d rather cater to the melody players than backers when notating this music—that’s really who its for, eh?

Posted .

Key changes

This tune clearly changes keys from D to A back to D , to G and finally back to D. These aren’t merely accidentals accomodating harmonic modulations, but complete shifts of tonality, each section resolving as expected per the key change. THerefore it is correct and proper to indicate the Key changes. Will Harmon’s implied scorn for the happiness of "backers" ignores the misery inflicted on the melody players by clueless backup players who don’t know the key has changed. This is of course more likely in cases where folks are reading sheet music instead of playing from memory, or "by heart" (a telling expression). Not a session I’d care to attend.
Considering that John J did not know how to do the key changes in ABC (I don’t really do ABC myself), he did a good job of delineating the changes through the use of accidentals. Still, they are real key changes and should be indicated as such.

Scorn? None intended. But a backer shouldn’t be playing along to this music if s/he can’t hear the key/mode changes without them being marked on some piece of paper.

I have nothing against backers, but this particular genre of trad music (perhaps not including this tune, a recent waltz) isn’t about backing, it’s about playing the melody. And Irish trad melodies have a nasty habit of thumbing their noses at the conventions of harmonic and polyphonic music theory. Doesn’ t trouble us lead players at all, but it can tie backers into knots.

Say I want to play Garrett Barry’s jig, first with all the F sharped, then with the Fs in the B part as naturals, then a third go round with all the Fs, A and B parts, as naturals. There’s nothing "wrong" with that in this music, especially in the generations old practice of playing the tunes unaccompanied. But unless the backer has fair warning, they’re better off learning when to put the weapon down and just listen.

Posted .


"Clueless backers" don’t need any help making themselves miserable—they’re quite capable all on their own. It’s not the melody players’ responsibility to determine what key or mode a tune is in, and if a backer can’t decide wisely, s/he should abstain from joining in.

Posted .

Will you know fine well that if we upped and left you on your sad, melodic, monophonic little own, you’d only end up getting bored and missing our creativity πŸ™‚

No, Mark, I have doublestops to keep me company. πŸ™‚
I hear all sorts of chords behind my own solo playing, and I can vary them as I see fit—don’t need anyone else dictating the terms.

Seriously, I enjoy playing with accompaniment, but not when it’s "clueless," and it’s not my job to clue them in. Of course I don’t at all mind murmuring the occasional chord prompt when a guitarist has drawn a blank, but reconnoitering keys/modes is the backer’s job. A good melody player might vary the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th tones of a given tune from flat through natural to sharp, seemingly on a whim. Bottom line is that I want a backer who can follow me, not the other way around.

My larger point here is that assigning some fixed key or modality to an Irish trad tune, as ffydylguy has suggested here, may be an oversimplification of the tune and an unwelcome constraint on the melody players. It’s tempting (and convenient) for backers to think in keys and modes, especially applied to the music in written form, but in actual practice, many of the tunes are more fluid than that.

Posted .

I hate it when a melody player hisses "E minor!!" at you, and you’re already strumming on E minor, and you really want to thump them and smash their pathetic, monophonic fiddles over their heads πŸ™‚

Re keys

As Jeremy has already done the sheet music and it’s quite easy to follow as it is, I’ll leave things as they are this time. However, I’ll paste the version with the key changes in the comment sections for the benefit of the backers very soon. πŸ™‚

Where the tune came from

As it happens, the "Marianna" of the title is a friend of mine, and she even introduced me to Freeland at "The Dance Flurry" in NY many years ago. I told her about this posting and she gave me permission to pass this on:

"Feel free to mention me if you want, I don’t mind. Freeland wrote the tune
after he heard me lamenting to Ivar Baerentsen of Spaelimenninir that I
wished he, (Ivar), would write a tune for me. Ivar writes such amazing
tunes. I was totally surprised, and incredibly touched, when Freeland wrote
the waltz soon after. Those guys, all of them, have a special place in my
heart. I have spent many wonderful hours traveling and dancing and just
plain ol’ hanging out with them.

(Ivar has since written Marianna’s Hambo, which is on Spaelimenninir’s
latest CD. Another time I was completely moved and incredibly honored.)

Hope all is well with you, nice to hear from you!

By the way, all this rigamarole about keys and modes and "backers" etc, etc, is one of the reasons I now prefer Old-Timey to Celtoid; as one old-timer put it, "there ain’t no notes to it, you just play it!" I might add my own two cents, I figure if a tune’s worth playin’ twice, it’s worth playin’ twenty times, and if it ain’t worth playin’ twenty times, it aint worth playin’! (FG)

Re Marianna

Thanks for that info, ffidylguy. It’s interesting to know the history behind the tune.
I will paste the the version with the key changes in the next day or so.