The Graf Spee reel

Also known as The Graf Spay, Graf Spey, The Graf Spey, The Graff Spey, The Grand Spey, The Grand Spy, Grant’s Strathspey, The Rothiemurcas Rant, The Rothiemurchus Rant, The Western Lassies, Winnie Green’s.

There are 69 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with The Kylebrack Rambler (lots of times), The Broken Pledge (a few times), The Boys Of Ballisodare (a few times), The Boys Of Ballisodare (a few times) and Last Night’s Fun (a few times).

The Graf Spee has been added to 6 tune sets.

The Graf Spee has been added to 260 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ddor
|:E2CD E~G3|AGcG AGcG|EDCD E~G3|AGcG EDD2:|
|efed cBcA|G~E3 GAcd|efed cBcA|GECD EDD2|
efed cBcA|G~E3 GAcd|eaag efed|cAGE EDD2|
|:eggf gedg|eaag a3g|efed cBcd|edge edd2:|
|:ec (3ccc cAGE|GAcd cAGE|GAcd ecdc|cAGE EDD2:|
|(3efg cg (3efg cg|(3fga da (3fga da|(3efg cg (3efg cg|ABcd edde|
g2af gefd|ecdB cAGE|GAcd ecdB|cAGE EDD2||
# Added by bd .
X: 2
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:EDcD E~G3 |AGcG AGcG | EDcD E~G3 |AGcG E~D3 :|
|:~e3d ~c3A |G~E3 GAcd |1 ~e3d cBcA | GEcE E~D3 :|2 ~a3g ~e3d | cAGE E~D3 ||
|:eggf ~g3d |eaag ~a3g |~e3d ~c3d |1 edge ed3 :|2 eage ed3 |
|:edcB cAGE |GAcd cAGE |GAcd eedc |AGcE ~ED3 :|
|:edcd edcd |=fede =fed=f |edcd c3A |AAcd edcd |eaag gedf |ecdB cAGE |GG (3Bcd eedB|cGcE E~D3||
X: 3
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:~F2ED F~A3 | BAdA BAdA | ~F2ED F~A3 | BAdA FEE2 :|
|:fedc dBAF | Adfe dBA2 |1 f~B3 f~B3 | ABde fee2 :|2 faba fedB | BAdA FEE2 |
|:faaf abaf | fbba bc'ba |fafe dcde | faba fee2 :|
|:fAde fAdf | gbef gbeg | fAde fedB | ABde fee2 |
~f2 df A2 (3fed| fdec dBAF | ABde fedB | BAdA FEE2 :|
X: 4
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ddor
|:EDcD EG G2 |AGcG AGcG | EDcD EG G2 |AGcG ED D2 |
EDcD EG G2 |AGcG AGcG | ED D2 EG G2 |AGcG ED D2 ||
|:e3d cAGE |Gced cA A2 |eA A2 dAcA | GEcE ED D2|
e3d cAGE |Gced cA A2 |a3g e3d | cAGE ED D2 ||
|:egge g3d |eaag a3g |(3efg ed cBcd |e2 ge ed d2 |
egge g3d |eaag a3g |(3efg ed cBcd | eage ed d2 ||
|:ecde cAGE |Gced cAGE |GAcd ecdc |AGcG ED D2|
|ecde cAGE|Gced cAAG|a3g e3d|cAGE EDDG||
|:(3efg cg (3efg cg|(3fga da (3fga da|(3efg cg (3efg cg|ABcd edde|
g2 ae geed|ecdB cAGE|GAcd ecd(c|c)AGE EDD2||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 5
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
E2CD E~G3|AGcG AGcG|~E2CD E~G3|~A2 GE EDD2|
E2CD E~G3|AGcG AGcG|EDCD E ~G3|AGcG ED D2||
efed cBcA|G~E3 GAcd|efed cBcA|GECD EDD2|
efed cBcA|G~ced cAAG|~a3 g efed|cAGE EDD2||
|:egg^f gedg|eaag a3g|efed cBcd|edag egdg:|
|:eccB cAGE|GAcd cAGE|GAcd ecdc|AGcG EDD2:|
egcg egcg|fada fada|egcg egcA|GAcd edde|
a2af gefd|ecdB cAGE|GAcd ecdc|AGcG EDD2|]
X: 6
T: The Graf Spee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ddor
|: EDCD EG (3GBG | AGcG AGcG | EDCD EG (3GBG | AGcG EDD2 :|
|: e3d cBcA | G~EE2 GAcd |1 e2ed cBcA | GECD EDD2 :|2 eaag efed|cAGE EDD2 ||
|: egg^f gedg | eaag a3g | efed cBcd | e^fge edd2 :|
|: ec (3ccc cAGE | GAcd ecGE | GAcd ecdB | cAGE EDD2 :|
|: (3e^fg cg (3e^fg cg | (3f^ga da (3f^ga da | (3e^fg cg (3e^fg cG | GAcd edd2 |
| e2a^f gefd | ecdB cAGE | GAcd ecdB | cAGE EDD2 :|

Twenty-seven comments

An old tune, but I don’t know any background to it. I think I heard it first in a recording by Bobby Casey.

Posted by .

Graf Spee

This reel was originally a Scottish strathspey called "The Rothiemurchus Rant", and was reputedly the favourite strathspey of our national poet Robert Burns, who was also a fiddler, (but we don’t know if he was any good). It is obvious that the "folk process" has been at work here: "Strathspey" becomes "Graf Spee". The Irish reel version has acquired another part somewhere along the line.
It - the reel - has been recorded by Molloy,Peoples & Brady, Kevin Burke & Jacky Daly, and "Dervish". It is also played in "D" as well as "C".

Posted by .

I always thought this tune was named after The famous German Battleship "The Graf Spee" http://www.grafspee.com/ .
From what I’ve read a "rant" is the Scottish/British name for a single reel.

Graf spee

"The Rothiemurchus Rant" was printed in "The Athole Collection of Scottish Dance Music", published in 1884. The "Graf Spee" battleship was commissioned in 1936 - a difference of over 50 years.
A quote from "Bowing Styles In Irish Fiddle Playing - Vol 2" by David Lyth - Page 21 -
"the title of the tune known as the Graf Spee, which refers to a World War 1(sic) battleship,is undoubtedly a corruption of an original title that referred to a Strathspey in Scotland.(In one collection it is called the Grants of Strathspey)".
This is by no means the first irish reel to have its roots in Scotland - eg Bonny Kate, Boyne Hunt, Lads Of Laois, Farewell To Ireland..etc

Posted by .

Graf spee

"The Rothiemurchus Rant" was printed in "The Athole Collection of Scottish Dance Music", published in 1884. The "Graf Spee" battleship was commissioned in 1936 - a difference of over 50 years.
A quote from "Bowing Styles In Irish Fiddle Playing - Vol 2" by David Lyth - Page 21 -
"the title of the tune known as the Graf Spee, which refers to a World War 1(sic) battleship,is undoubtedly a corruption of an original title that referred to a Strathspey in Scotland.(In one collection it is called the Grants of Strathspey)".
This is by no means the first irish reel to have its roots in Scotland - eg Bonny Kate, Boyne Hunt, Lads Of Laois, Farewell To Ireland..etc

Posted by .

So that’s how it happened, thanks for that quote.

I always thought it was a corruption of "Grand Spey", as in the river.

Graf Spee

The tune is a lot older than the Athole Collection. It is in Vickers’ ms (1770) as The Grants of Strathspey and in many Scottish books of the 18th C as Rothemurchus’s Rant, with many spellings. Rant is often used for strathspey titles, while it has a more specific meaning in NE England, meaning a tune which fits a particular dance step, e.g Morpeth Rant.

i like the verve in McGoldrick/McSherry’s version, which deviates from this one. anyone help me/us out w/a transcription?

I notice a three part version is on Siobhan Peoples and Murty Ryan album ‘Time on our Hands’ under the title ‘The Western Lassies’

Martin Hayes does a great version with brilliant accompaniment by Steve Cooney on ‘Under The Moon’. it is a little different than this version, but it is in C.

Posted .

Apparently there’s a Fermanagh coruption of the Grants of Strathspey which might be the missing link - The Grand Spy!

This tune is in the Gunn Book (Fermanagh 1865) as The Grand Spy - a 4 part reel in the key of C

Does anyone have a better setting of this tune? This does not jibe at all with my memory of the local version.

There’s a good reason the Germans scuttled the overgunned, underpowered and under-armored namesake of this tune…

Graf Spee

That’s Norman Holmes on one of his own flutes. Splendid chap.

McSherry

X: 1
T: The Graf Spee
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K:G
|:EDcD E~G3 |AGcG AGcG | EDcD E~G3 |AGcG E~D3 :|
|:~e3d ~c3A |G~E3 GAcd |1 ~e3d cBcA | GEcE E~D3 :|2 ~a3g ~e3d | cAGE E~D3 ||
|:eggf ~g3d |eaag ~a3g |~e3d ~c3d |1 edge ed3 :|2 eage ed3 |
|:edcB cAGE |GAcd cAGE |GAcd eedc |AGcE ~ED3 :|
|:edcd edcd |=fede =fed=f |edcd c3A |AAcd edcd |eaag gedf |ecdB cAGE |GG (3Bcd eedB|cGcE E~D3||

Great clip here at 1:44 onwards

Posted by .

The Grand Spy

X:3 from the piping of Martin Bierne: https://archive.org/details/MartinBeirneTheGrandSpy Beirne’s chanter would drop the octave whenever he got to bar 2 of the 3rd part. Interestingly enough Michael Coleman recorded this setting not once but twice at his last session in 1944. When Coleman got to that part he would play (3gab ba | babg instead, avoiding the need to shift positions for the high C#. Coleman also played true rolls in bar 3 of the 2nd part, whereas Bierne played graced legato triplets; Bierne also squeezed harder on the bag in the final bar of the first part, overblowing the chanter to give BAdA Fee2, setting him up for the next part. Coleman also mostly played FEDE F~A3 in the first part, which Bierne occasionally threw in as a variation.

Sean Maguire also played this setting on a late 60s pub recording, likely he picked up when living in NYC in the 1950s. J Scott Skinner thought this reel sounded better in D, according to a footnote in one of his collections.

I’m cyberstalking you, Kevin.

Posted by .

Hi Mary. Don’t try and creep me out, even on Halloween. ;)

The Graf Spey - piano recording

Don’t miss the really terrific piano rendition of this wonderful Scottish reel performed by Padraic O’Reilly on his album "Highly Strung" 2007. A not to miss version!

The Graf Spee, X:6

B/C Accordion version. This is a favorite for sure among boxplayers as it is centered around the inside row, but still has some tricky runs — the f naturals in the last part, for example. Those chromatic triplets in the last part are often played slightly quicker than your typical triplet, leaving some room around the following two notes.

Re: The Graf Spee

Further to Thady Quill’s comment.
Here is a great bit of box playing by Johnny B Connolly- all three reels.
Graf Spee at 3.38 but the other reels are brilliant too.
Not too sure about the percussion, though!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FNPijSx_YE