The Dear Irish Boy waltz

Also known as An Buachailin Ban, An Buachaillin Ban, The Little Fair-Haired Boy.

There are 71 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Dear Irish Boy appears in 2 other tune collections.

The Dear Irish Boy has been added to 22 tune sets.

The Dear Irish Boy has been added to 248 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:EF|G2 F3 E|F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|G2 F2 E2|F B3 AF|F2 E3 E|E4 EF|
G2 F3 E|F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|G2 F2 E2|F B3 AF|F2 E3 E|E4 e2|
e B3 e2|e B3 G2|F d3 F2|E D3 e2|e B3 e2|e B3 A2|B e3 f2|e4 ef|
g3 f e2|d B3 AG|F d3 F2|E D3 EF|G3 A B2|e ff>e d/B/A/F/|G2 F3 B|E4:|
X: 2
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
EF|G2 F3 E|F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|G2 F2 E2|
F B3 AF|F2 FE D2|E4 EF|G2 F3 E|
F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|G2 A3B|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/|
FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2|E4||
e2 B4|e2 B3E|Fd3 d2|F3E D2|e2 B4|e2 B3A|
Be3 fd|e4 ef|g3 f e2|dB3 AG|Fd3 F2|ED3 EF|
G3A B2|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/|FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2|E4 EF|
G3A B2|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/|FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2|E4||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 3
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
AB|c2 B3 A|B e3 dB|A2 B3 A|G4 AB|c2 B2 A2|
B e3 dB|B2 BA G2|A4 AB|c2 B3 A|
B e3 dB|A2 B3 A|G4 AB|c2 d3e|a2 b2 a/g/e/d/|
Bc3 de|A2 AB/A/ G2|A4||
a2 e4|a2 e3A|Bg3 g2|B3A G2|a2 e4|a2 e3d|
ea3 bg|a4 ab|c'3 b a2|ge3 dc|Bg3 B2|AG3 AB|
c3d e2|a2 b2 a/g/e/d/|Bc3 de|A2 AB/A/ G2|A4 AB|
c3d e2|a2 b2 a/g/e/d/|Bc3 de|A2 AB/A/ G2|A4||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 4
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
d4{a}dF|G//F//E/F//E//D/D4-|D4z2|z3f2Jg|{ef}eB4{fg}f-|f3{a}gf {ef}e|B6|
g{c'}a4g/f/|e2fB3-|B4A/G/ {Bc}d-|d4F2-|F{A}FE{A}ED2-|D6-|D4z2|
z3z2A-|AG3-G2-|!>!G3-E/F/ G F/{A}F/|F4E/{A}E/D-|D6|E6-|E6-|E3z3|
X: 5
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
GA|B2 A3 G|A d3 cA|G2 A3 G|F4 GA|B2 A2 G2|
A d3 cA|A2 AG F2|G4 GA|B2 A3 G|
A d3 cA|G2 A3 G|F4 GA|B2 c3d|g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|
AB3 cd|G2 GA/G/ F2|G4||
g2 d4|g2 d3G|Af3 f2|A3G F2|g2 d4|g2 d3c|
dg3 af|g4 ga|b3 a g2|fd3 cB|Af3 A2|GF3 GA|
B3c d2|g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|AB3 cd|G2 GA/G/ F2|G4 GA|
B3c d2|g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|AB3 cd|G2 GA/G/ F2|G4||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
EF|G FF3 E/F/|{A}B3B (3AFE|E2 F3 E|D4 (3DEF|G F3 E/F/|
{A}B3B (3AFE|E2 F>E D/E/F/D/|E4 EF|
G FF3 E/F/|{A}B3B (3AFE|E2 F3 E|D4 B,2|
E>D EF G>A|(3BAB e>e dBA|B3B AF|G3d (3BAE|~F3E E2|E4||
ee B4|ee (3efe B2|B2 A/F/E/F/ d2|F2 E3 D|D6|ee B4|
(3efe d3 A|B2 A2 AB|e d/e/ f2 e2|d/e/f/d/ e2|(3def g2f2|(3edB e2 e2|
B A/F/E/F/ d2|F2 E2 D2|D4 B,2|E>D EF G>A|
(3BAB e>e (3dBA|B>B A2F2|G3d (3BAE|~F3E E2|E4||
# Added by DomW .
X: 7
T: The Dear Irish Boy
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
"Gm6"GA|"EbM7"B2 A3 G|A "Dm"d3 cA|"EbM7"G2 A3 G|"F"F4 GA|"EbM7"B2 A2 G2|
A "Dm7"d3 cA|"EbM7"A2 AG "F"F2|"Gm"G4 GA|"EbM7"B2 A3 G|
A "Dm7"d3 cA|"EbM7"G2 A3 G|"F"F4 GA|"EbM7"B2 "F"c3d|"Gm"g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|
A"EbM7"B3 "F"cd|"Gm"G2 GA/G/ "F"F2|"Gm6"G4||
"Gm"g2 d4|"EbM7"g2 d3G|A"F"f3 f2|"F"A3G F2|"Gm"g2 d4|"EbM7"g2 d3c|
d"Gm"g3 a"F"f|"Gm"g4 ga|"EbM7"b3 a g2|f"Dm7"d3 cB|A"F"f3 A2|GF3 GA|
"EbM7"B3c d2|"Gm"g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|A"EbM7"B3 cd|"Gm"G2 GA/G/ "F"F2|"Gm6"G4 GA|
"EbM7"B3c d2|"Gm"g2 a2 g/f/d/c/|A"EbM7"B3 cd|"Gm"G2 GA/G/ "F"F2|"Gm6"G4||
# Added by JACKB .

Seventy-five comments

The Dear Irish Boy

Though it might bear being played as a waltz this is really an air, which I assume has words. I got it off De Danann’s album “Selected…” (reels, songs, jigs, something like that…)

I learned this air from the concertina playing of Niall Vallely. I think he recorded it in Ador, but Edor is obviously nicer for flute.


Can’t believe this is not here but apparently not. Tony MacMahon does a great version of this on the box. It is played as a lament and a very powerful one at that as it combines both the utter senselessness of loss with a lift of hope.

Posted .

May Morning Dew

It’s a version of The May Morning Dew

Eileen Ivers Version

X: 1
T: Dear Irish Boy, The
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
R: waltz
K: Edor
|:EF|G2 F3 E|F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|
G2 F2 E2|F B3 AF|F2 FE D2|E4 EF|
G2 F3 E|F B3 AF|E2 F3 E|D4 EF|
G2 A3B|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/|FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2| E4 ||
|:e2 B4 |e2 B3E |Fd3 d2 |F3E D2|
e2 B4|e2 B3A|Be3 fd|e4 ef|
g3 f e2|dB3 AG| Fd3 F2|ED3 EF|
G3A B2|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/ |FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2| E4 EF|
G3A B2|e2 f2 e/d/B/A/ |FG3 AB|E2 EF/E/ D2| E4||

Posted by .

Harp version

Irish harper Maire Ni Chathasaigh plays this tune (An Buachaillin Ban/The Fair-haired Boy) as a slow air on her (and Chris Newman’s)CD FireWire. Gorgeous!

The Dear Irish Boy

The first two have the wrong key signature. It should be G not D. I see everyone here seems to be into examining the tunes in terms of modes. I don’t really think that’s very helpful, and could be misleading. This is obviously what is leading to choosing the wrong key signatures. it’s better just to think of major and minor keys with accidentals. Essentially, this is in e minor (or whichever minor you wish to play it in).

Posted .

Nobody anywhere said it was in “D”. The settings posted are in “E dorian”, and “A dorian”, if you’d care to look.

Posted by .

I had a look thank you. If you’d care to read my comment fully you’d see that I said thinking in modes all the time is not a good idea. There seems to be an idea on this site that if it’s ‘folk’ music it has to be in a mode. I don’t think that is true and I don’t think it is helpful. It is leading to an error in the analysis of the music.
I have this tune written out by Francis McPeake. Like the first example here, it begins and ends on the note E however the key signature is G not D, because it isn’t seen as a modal tune; it is simply in E minor.

Posted .

Then it isn’t G rather than D either is it. Nor is it really minor, as this would imply a leading note, strictly speaking – what you mean is probably aeolean or natural minor then (you started splitting hairs!). The settings here are given in dorian mode, but as there’s no 6th in them anyway it’s actually just a hexatonic minor mode. Both dorian and aeolean are equally appropriate in this case; the C# simply doesn’t matter.

But I see what you mean with “error in the analysis”. 😉

The key signature is G major (there are no minor key signatures) but the tune is in the relative minor (natural or otherwise) . I’m aware what the setting is here, that is my point , it’s not a good idea. if you look at all the tunes written and published they all use the relative major Key signature. O’Neill, for example, writes all the tunes the way I’m recommending ( as does everyone else).
No one marks a tune as D Major because they want it in E Dorian they just mark it as G major and write it out as E minor.
You say “ the C# simply doesn’t matter“ but that is only because the versions here don’t have a C in them, as you point out. However, In the version I have there IS a C. If the key signature is D, people will make the mistake of playing the C’s as C# ( or you have to go to the bother of marking all the C’s as natural). That’s where writing them out ‘overtly’ as a mode is a mistake. It’s far better to think of simple major/minor forms and accidentals.
How can you not like bananas?

Posted .

Nobody has marked this tune as D major, khasab. Both nicholas and JACKB have given the “key” as E dorian. It is traditional in this sort of music to give the “key” as a mode of the root note and not use accidentals on major or minor to indicate mixolydian or dorian, respectively. That is the way the vast majority of experienced musicians in this genre think. When they look at the number of sharps or flats on a score they don’t use that as an indication of tonal centre but simply how many sharps or flats there are in the scale. Trad musicians then use their ears to identify the tonal centre, if there is one.
You may as well get used to this as it is unlikely that hundreds of years of practice will be changed.

“ No one marks a tune as D Major because they want it in E Dorian“ I need to clarify that phrase. If they REALLY wanted to write in E Dorian then they would use D as the key signature because
E Dorian contains the F# and the C#. The tunes here are, as you say, in a hexatonic minor scale. However, my copy has several C naturals in it. Therefore the tune isn’t in E Dorian but E (natural) minor. But this is just the kind of confusion that writing like this causes. Especially as what people are writing, are versions of tunes. Their versions may contain different notes than another person’s version. That’s one reason why I say It’s far better to think of simple major/minor forms and accidentals.

Posted .

No, you’re wrong. These tunes are not even in E Dorian ( see my last remark)
“It is traditional in this sort of music to give the “key” as a mode of the root note and not use accidentals on major or minor to indicate mixolydian or dorian, respectively” that sentence doesn’t make sense. The root note of a piece IS the key note.
It’s ‘traditional’ to write it the way I think you should, which is the way all these tunes are written in published works by people such as O’Neill, and everyone else.
I don’t have to get used to it, I’ve been playing and reading music of all sorts for a long time and it is only here on this site that I’ve come across people writing like this. No one else does. I certainly won’t be, as , clearly, it leads to all sorts of errors. Please read my last comments again.

Posted .

furthermore E Dorian is not a key. It uses the same notes as D major. It’s the way they are played which produces a Dorian sound. You have to use them in a certain way so it feels right ending on the E rather than the D. If you don’t, then you’re just playing in D.

Posted .

khasab, as a newby here, perhaps you are not aware of the fact that many user only use abc format and don’t read dots. For them Amix makes a lot more sense than Dmaj or Amaj with accidentals. If you don’t like the way things work here then you could always just stick to your O’Neill’s. You might also try contacting the site moderator, Jeremy, for an explanation of this heinous musical crime.

I don’t get the argument that “there are no minor key signatures”.
I did a bit of music theory long time ago - nothing to do with this site, and am sure I never heard that statement expressed. Not sure if you (khasab) quite understand Modal theory.
Sharps and flats and the beginning of a piece do not dictate the key on their own. There is no assumption that they all refer to a major key. I’m pretty sure that applies to classical music too; correct me if I am wrong.

@khasab: Ah, if your setting features C naturals then two sharps would certainly be wrong; from the settings given here you just cannot infer that. What is important here is that it’s in E and it’s some minor mode (as indicated in the K: field); it does make a difference for backers however. So why not post your setting for another perspective on the tune?

PS: Dunno, they’re actually quite tasty; yet I don’t like them. They’re threatening me.

@khasab: one of the interesting things about Irish music is that there are nearly as many versions of a tune as there are players who play it. A player may flatten or sharpen a note in the tune’s underlying scale (changing its mode, but not its tonal center), sometimes because of physical limitations of the instrument they play– say, a single-row button accordion. Or they may transpose it to another key– from A minor to E minor, for example. A written example is only one way to play it…which is why there are so many “settings” under each tune.

Donough, I’ve done lots of music theory and I think I do indeed understand a lot about modal theory. “there are no minor key signatures” is self explanatory. The Key SIGNATURES (the thing that’s written after the clef sign) are signatures of MAJOR keys. I never said that Sharps and flats at the beginning of a piece dictate the key on their own. If you want to write in D minor the key SIGNATURE will be the signature for F major ( a single Bb), although the piece will use C# , usually end on a D minor cadence and be in the relative minor of F which is D minor.
I hope that helps you.
Also it’s got nothing to do with modes (except in so far as the major key is , of course, the Ionian mode).

Posted .

@Benhockenbery, I can’t imagine what you’re trying to tell me. I’m well aware of the fact there are different versions of tunes and that they can be, and often are, transposed to different keys. I love the assumption in these replies to me that I have to be told basic information about music.
I wasn’t complaining about there being many settings I was talking about the way they are written.

Posted .

@DonaldK Ok you’ve made a point there. I’ll concede that the ABC format is useful for people who don’t read the dots. Fair enough.

Posted .

Wonder who’s going to have a go next ?

Posted .

Read carefully, khasab. Benhockenberry was telling you that settings may not only be in different keys, but also in different modes. Yours may be in E minor, which is fine; others may be in E dorian (in your terms: key of E, signature of D). There’s nothing wrong with this per se. Other odd ones may even be in a major mode (in your terms: signature of A or E).

If you’re really that proficient in music theory (which I’m gradually doubting TBH), you have to get rid of the classical (?) way of thinking that everything has to be forced into the corset of either major or minor. There’s much more out there.

Edit: this is getting absurd.

@sebastian the metapop “E dorian (in your terms: key of E, signature of D)” This is not ‘in my terms’. I’m perfectly happy talking in terms of modes. I don’t think he was saying that settings can be in different modes. They can’t be in fact, without changing essential aspects of the tune. If I play a tune which is is in E Dorian it will have C# and F# in the tune, if I then tried to play it in E mixolydian it would have F# G# and C#. Are you saying it would sound the same , or correct, as played in in E Dorian? I hope not.
What you think about my proficiency in terms og music theory may be conditioned by your own lack of understanding.

Posted .

@sebastian the metapop “you have to get rid of the classical (?) way of thinking that everything has to be forced into the corset of either major or minor” It isn’t a classical way of thinking and I have never claimed that everything has to be forced in to this ‘corset’. I was talking about the way the tunes are written here. I thought you understood what I was saying but I see now you don’t. Really I can’t be bothered with this any more. You write what you like and I’ll do the same. I’m sure we’ll all be happy.

Posted .

khasab was actually correct. Although he seems to have got dragged into a little bit of a pointless argument re: classical vs trad which I’m seeing a hell of a lot on this forum.

There really isn’t ever any need to be thinking in terms of modal harmony. Major or minor and with or without accidentals is all you ever need to know.

It’s fine for the entire classical repertoire, I’m sure it’s fine for simple 16 bar folk tunes too.

I suspect this modal approach that is very common here has come about because so many people don’t read music and they rely on this ABC business.
If you read music you don’t need to worry about modes, just read the key signature at the start and observe any accidentals that come along.

Next thing people will say is “But you can’t play this music by reading music.”
True. But we’re not talking about interpretation or performance. We’re talking about writing it down. And that’s where the confusion seems to have set in.

One , I hope , very last comment from me on the subject. The idea that settings of a tune may be “ in different modes“ if by that you mean if could be in the Dorian mode, or the mixolydian mode or the Phrygian mode is not the case.
There was a time when there was no such thing as E Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian etc. There were only modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian Lydian etc), no sharps or flats and NO key letters with them. Once we got even temperament and the ability to transpose to different keys and remain in tune, the idea of having modes related to each key arrived.
E Dorian, for example, is tied to the KEY of D because the Dorian mode is the scale starting from the 2nd degree of the Ionian mode ( what we call the Major scale is the Ionian mode). E Phrygian is tied to the key of C because the Phrygian mode starts on the 3rd degree of the Ionian mode and so on .
Now If a tune is written in the Dorian mode it has to stay in the Dorian mode whatever key is being used, in order to maintain the same relationship between the notes, and remain recognisably the same tune.
So… If I play the tune at a different pitch I am effectively changing the key. If I change from the key of D (E Dorian) to use the key signature of A, I can’t still play it in E Dorian. Because the mode starting from the note of E in the key of A isn’t the Dorian mode. It’s the mixolydian mode. I would have to maintain the Dorian mode and use B Dorian.

Posted .

My two cents: it is Sebastian and Ben who are correct, and khasab who is wrong. First, E Dorian is not “tied” to D Major, it is a key/scale/sound/mode unto itself. It shares the notes with the D major scale but is in no way subservient to it. Second, tonality/modality in Irish music is more subtle(maybe even tenuous) than Misters K and H above maintain. A tune can switch mode or key from section to section, phrase to phrase, or even in the middle of a phrase. A tune can use a gapped scale without the sixth degree, or seventh, or either. Is Behind the Bush in the Garden in A Aeolian or A Dorian? A tune that is in an E Minor mode,i.e. with a G natural, may be played with a C natural, a C#, or, in Kookistan, something in between. I’ve heard some folks play The Coleraine in A Minor with a G# which would suggest harmonic minor, others with G natural. Which is correct? In classical music there is a definitive answer; in Irish trad not so.

BTW, nobody claimed that our usage of modes here were technically true to the usage in Greek or Gregorian music. It’s just a useful convention to capture both key and key signature; and any transcription is just an approximation anyway.

I don’t know how you khasab and Harold come to think that the terminology of western classical music theory would be in any way more applicable to Irish traditional music – this isn’t classical music after all. Your technically “correct” approach is as necessary as the description of a mustard recipe in terms of physics.

@5stringfool The use of the word ‘subservient’ seems odd. The fact is that E Dorian is, yes, a scale and it is indeed derived from the scale of D Ionian ( to give D major another name). The E Dorian mode is built on the 2nd degree of the scale and that scale is D major. The association is close enough to refer to them as ‘tied’. Just as E Phrygian is ‘tied’ to C Major an so on.
The use of the occasional accidental does not justify talking about switching modes. If there were a more obvious change from one mode to another in a tune, that’s fine. It exactly the same as a key change in a piece. No problem there.
As for your other point; if one group of people play a tune with F# and C# whilst another group use F# and C natural, all that means is there are two different opinions on how the tune goes. One of them plays it in ,say, E Dorian (and would use D as the key signature) and the other people play it in ,say, E natural minor ( and would use the key signature of G if they wrote it down). None of this undermines what I said. ( If they decide to play together, they’ll have to decide whose version they will play).

Posted .

This discussion is interesting because nearly everyone who has been arguing with khasab has essentially stopped talking about The Dear Irish Boy. Chances are good that the people who dreamed up the tune wouldn’t understand a thing you are saying.

@ sebastian the metapop “BTW, nobody claimed that our usage of modes here were technically true to the usage in Greek or Gregorian music.” Nor am I making that claim. It’s not a claim that has any bearing on any point I’ve made. Nowhere in my comments do I even suggest this so I can’t imagine why your saying it. I’ve pointed out how ‘modern’ modes are connected to ‘modern’ Keys. That use is the same whether you’re playing Jazz or folk. A mode is a mode is a mode.

also “ I don’t know how you…… come to think that the terminology of western classical music theory would be in any way more applicable to Irish traditional music“ I don’t think it would be MORE applicable. Or less. The fact is there is NO difference in the terminology or the theory or the practice. Folk musicians do not live outside the tradition of Western Music. they might like to think they do, but they don’t. They live in it. The music comes out of it.
You seem to be intent on deliberately misunderstanding what I am saying. You seem determined to act towards me as if you’ve come across some silly classically trained nerd who can’t understand the ‘deeper’ ‘richer’ traditions of folk music. Nothing could be further from the truth, Like most other Irish people. I was brought up on this stuff.
As Harold in Italy said , this discussion has been dragged quite far from the, much simpler, point I was originally making: that it is better, easier and simpler to think in terms of major/minor and accidentals and that people are making errors such as using the wrong key signatures and they are led into that by thinking too much about representing a mode. I am sticking to that point and despite attacks by people like yourself and 5stringfool I AM right.

Posted .

khasab- What historical evidence do you have that E Dorian was“derived from the scale of D Ionian ?“

@dancarney84 Exactly! I was going to say that earlier. The people who wrote the stuff we’re talking about may well have had some knowledge of music theory (they weren’t all entirely untutored in that area) but it would have been in the simpler terms of Major and Minor keys. It’s unlikely any of them ever heard about modes. If they wanted a different sound they just flattened or sharpened a note here and there til they got it. and it’s in those terms that they composed the tunes we play. That’s how we should think of them. That has really been my whole point.

Posted .

I could just as easily assert that D Ionian is built on the 7th degree of E Dorian.

@5stringfool I’ve already explained this. Did you actually read my comment?
The Dorian mode is the scale starting from the 2nd degree of the Ionian mode ( what we now usually call the Major scale). E is the 2nd note of D. E Dorian is ( not ‘was’) derived, therefore, from the scale of D major.
E falls in a different position in other keys. In C it is the 3rd note of the scale. Playing from E to E in the key of C gives you the Phrygian mode, so typical of Flamenco music.

Now, I’m not getting any further into a discussion of modes, that was never the point I was making. There are lots of sites on the net if you want to study modes.

Posted .

khasab- you continue to argue for the primacy of the Major and Minor scales-“If they wanted a different sound they just flattened or sharpened a note here and there til they got it”
If this were true than it would seem that there would be a preponderance of ancient tunes in Ionian or Aeolian, and that only more recent tunes would use other modes. As far as I know, if anything, the opposite is true. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that late 18th and 19th Century sources are more likely to “correct” tunes to make them conform to the Major/Minor dichotomy.
I furthermore maintain, lacking historical evidence to the contrary, that D Ionian is derived from the seventh note of E Dorian. Prove otherwise.

Naa, I’m not trying to deliberately misunderstand you khasab. I first thought you were just trying to argue why this particular tune is not in a dorian mode, but since you started to rant about the use of modes in general I’m admittedly getting confused. Nobody seemed to have a problem with it here; again, the key is given and the accidentals (without the need to clutter the tune itself with too much accidentals), and it is not uncommon to do it this way. Well, at least as an internet ABC simplification; out there in the “real” world I’ll just say D or E to denote the tonic, and in pure staff notation you couldn’t tell anyway. If you think E dorian is likely to get confused with (or tied to) D major then E minor is equally likely to get confused with (equally tied to) G major. And I simply don’t see the advantage of restricting the notation to major and minor and then having to bother with all the (possible) accidentals within the tune. We’ve all seen in O’Neill’s what this can result in. 😛

Edit: x-posting again.
“E Dorian is ( not ‘was’) derived, therefore, from the scale of D major.”

This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes you appear like a “classically trained nerd”. In what way is this relevant to the tune? (As long as there are no C#s in it, of course.)

@5stringfool “ I could just as easily assert that D Ionian is built on the 7th degree of E Dorian.“

No you can’t because each mode has a set pattern. The pattern for the Dorian mode is W-H-W-W-W-H-W.
(W=wholestep H=Halfstep i.e. major/minor 2nds)

What you’d get if you did it your way would be W-W-H-W-W-W-H in other words the pattern for D major, not Dorian.

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@sebastian the metapop I honestly don’t think you understand what I’ve been saying at all. Let’s leave it at that.

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khasab-you have now clearly demonstrated your total lack of understanding of modes.

@5stringfool if you don’t accept that as proof I’m afraid I can’t help you.

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Ok. Another thought: As pipes are playing their drones in D all along anyway, E dorian actually *is* derived from D and rightly so. 😎

@5stringfool Really? would you care to explain how? Come to think of it, don’t bother.

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To be very specific: E Dorian is E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D-E
If I start on the seventh note, D , and proceed in order, I get D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D, in other words D Ionian. Therefore D Ionian is “derived” from E Dorian. You simply asserting anything otherwise is not proof.
As to Sebastian’s point, wouldn’t that also mean that G Major is derived from D Major as well?

Of course, you just have to use a natural sign where necessary. Much easier than using quirky keys like “G major” when you could simply notate everything in D.

Raise the flag for Kookistan! C#’s reign supreme!

@ 5stringfool You’re entirely wrong. Where did you get the E dorian from that you ‘derived’ the D Ionian from?

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khasab-not sure what you question means. Are you suggesting that the notes I give don’t form an E Dorian scale?

@5stringfool I wrote “Now, I’m not getting any further into a discussion of modes” I’m going to stick to that. I am not interested enough to keep up this futile discussion. I have better things to do even if you haven’t.

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I apologize if you were offended by my post, khasab. I don’t think I have anything more to add to this discussion.

@benhockenberry Thanks. No I wasn’t. I might have sounded as If I was, I suppose, Sorry if I did. I’ve spent so here long fighting off attacks. I’m really very tired of it, and it’s got very absurd. Let’s all just go back to playing music ! 🙂

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khasab- I think we have to agree to disagree. You will continue to believe in the primacy of the Major scale, and I will continue to believe that, at least in regard to Irish trad, no such primacy exists or ever did. Like Ben Hockenberry, I apologise if in the heat of the discussion I said anything that offended you. Peace.

@khasab I meant that you’ve stopped talking about the tune as well. I’ve studied only a bit of theory so tend not to get mixed up in the technical aspects of Trad music. The only thing I could add that might help the discussion is that it’s important for all concerned to note that the way we write music today comes from the needs of Western Classical music and not the traditional music of Europe that predated it. The confusion evident here may be a result of that history.

Fascinating that a lot of the early classical stuff was based around folk melodies of the day and from old collections. I read somewhere once that Beethoven used to dig through collections of “Scotch and Irish Airs” and Hayden’s dad was a folk fiddler.

@5stringfool I certainly have stopped, however I have to point out that I don’t ‘believe’ in the primacy of the Major scale. That was never my point.

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Listen, it doesn’t matter what mode or key somebody uses to describe a tune setting as long as it has the right number of sharps and flats.

So if a tune has an F sharp and C sharp, you can choose D major as the key …or you can choose E dorian (and if the tune ends on an E note, then that obviously makes a lot of sense). But for the purposes of someone playing the tune, it really doesn’t matter.

Here’s the important: if someone choose D major over E dorian or E dorian over D major, neither person is *wrong*. Please don’t tell someone they chose the wrong “key” if the resultant sheet music has the right number of sharps and flats. Thanks.

@ Jeremy I’m not getting back into this discussion, suffice it to say you have missed the point I was making.

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Just to put the moggy among the doos, those first two settings are hexatonic. All this guff for nothing.

Anybody know the composer of this air?

Re: The Dear Irish Boy

And it’s not a bloody waltz either!

Re: The Dear Irish Boy

Calm down, calm down…

Re: The Dear Irish Boy

looking for some background for the air An Buachaillín Bán? Found it sung by Nioclás Tóibín to work on phrasing…, I was wondering if there is any other information on the background of the song?
many thanks

Re: The Dear Irish Boy

Having glanced through the comments above, I’m awfy glad I just learn my tunes by ear, so the only keys I really need to worry about are the ones for my car & house. 😀

Anyway I had a wee go at this haunting old Air today, which incidentally always reminds of my old friend & Uilleann Piper frae Dundee, the late Peter Forbes & memorable pilgrimages to the Willie Clancy week back in the mid 1970s.

I’m playing it on Hammered Dulcimer, English Concertina, Fiddle & Whistle.


Re: The Dear Irish Boy


It is my understanding that “fair-haired boy” was a coded reference to Bonnie Prince Charlie. This song, written in Irish (as sung by Nioclás Tóibín) is therefore probably from the 18th century (the last Jacobite rebellion was 1745). I do not know Irish and so cannot vouch for the following translation (which I found years ago on, but it seems to fit the theme:

“My heart beats faintly and my efforts are weakened
A grief, too deep for words, fills my breast
For I am to be banished from the fair hills of Erin
Aimless my life then and tragic my fate
I recall, my soul’s delight in days gone by
My love surrendered to your bewitching gaze
Merciful God, I would for rather perish
Here with my own folk and my fair-haired boy

The fair land of Erin lies in bondage so brutal
The sad tormented prisoner of her foes
Is it her fate then to be forever weeping
That proud little isle of the saint and the bard
I shout this my prayer to Great God Our Father
“Let death and destruction be the fate of John
Who banished so many across the great water
And parted forever my fair land and me.”

Songs like these (there are several others floating around in the tradition) often lament the loss of “my fair-haired boy” or “my dear handsome boy”, or something along those lines - and sometimes hopefully look for his return in the future. This is all of course a romantic, poetic metaphor expressing sympathy with the Jacobite cause, or more broadly, Irish freedom from oppression, and perhaps Catholic emancipation. So, a romantic anthem of rebellion, and lament for Ireland, if you will. (Probably closely related to the “aisling” genre of poetry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, wherein a feminine form, representing Ireland, would appear to the singer or poet in a dreamlike vision, and speak of her sorrows.)