…hitherandthithering waters of…
This tune is found in James Joyce’s work "Finnegans Wake", I.1.44, but as a ballad in 6/8 with lyrics (abc for that version is below). I only ever focused on the lyrics when I read FW, as I wasn’t a musician then (if I am now). I decided to attempt playing it on the whistle after hearing Mick Moloney sing it a cappella here in Philadelphia several years ago. But since I couldn’t play the whistle, that went nowhere.
Given the odd number of measures, I recently arranged it in session tune format as a jig, and found it rather appealing as such, despite its simplistic repetition punctuated by odd accidentals and general moody wackiness and high weirdness…indeed, I like it for the same reasons I enjoy reading FW and all of Joyce’s writing.
As a lapsed Joycean, I’m ashamed to say I don’t know if Joyce wrote the tune (he was an excellent musician too, as if he didn’t have enough talent with the pen), although I’m quite sure he wrote the lyrics, given the context and character. Therefore, I have no idea if it’s traditional, Irish, or what. If Joyce wrote the tune, it’s likely he wasn’t living in Ireland when he did so; I guess then we can classify it as Expatriated Irish Traditional Music.
T:Ballad of Persse O’Reilly
z4EE | E3/2F/E D2C | DB,2 B,B,C | DDD DCB, | CA,2 A,A,B, | =CCC C3/2C/D | B,2B, B,2A, | ^G,G,A, B,=CB, | C3 C2C/C/ | =G,3/2A,/B, A,3 | A,2A, =G,3/2A,/B, | A,6 | A,6 |
Carnival in Venice?
Sounds like a mangled vrsion of the old war horse - beloved by show off instrumentalists working throgh the countless variations
I don’t know if it’s related to The Old War Horse or not, but Joyce was certainly a show-off to beat the band, and spent some of his most important years in Trieste. I don’t know if he ever went to Venice…
Someone put "Humpty Dumpty" as another name; this is not, as far as I know, a tune to accompany the nursery rhyme. (If I’m incorrect, please enlighten me.) "Humpty Dumpty" was added because the lyrics to the ballad make use of Humpty Dumpty imagery in the first stanza, but the lyrics draw upon several other sources as well.
You can read the lyrics here, and even read the entire book online, God help you: