This is an excellent all round jig for bashing out on the fiddle, with or without much ornamentation! It appears in this form in a fiddling book I have, and is similar to ‘From the New Country’ on this website (possibilities for juxtaposition in performance?), but some elements of structure and key are different, so I decided to submit it.
This seems to be an Edorian version of The Swallowtail: https://thesession.org/tunes/106
There’s no big difference between the two versions except for the keys.
Such a cool tune! I really like the first half. Can’t wait to play it on my fiddle! 🙂
I copied this out from a book and not this website however. True, this tune is basically identical to The Swallowtail (a few notes and rhythmic elements differ), but a difference in key can give something a very different feel. Also, some differences make this version easier for the less experienced violinist - no jump from the G on the D string to the G on the E string, for example (unless playing in the 3rd position) and less need for the fourth finger to be thrown out (problems of intonation, speed etc.) Perhaps most so is that in my version, you don’t have to move your fingers across a fifth (fiendish!) because you can use the open A and D.
Nevertheless I had noted the existence of such pieces as The Swallowtail here already! But I’d say it’s good to have a few versions for players to choose their favourite from (without cluttering the site ofc)
I wouldn’t say it’s in E dorian though. Although I’ve only just started learning about the modes, as opposed to the keys, this has F sharp in the key signature and uses the accidentals C sharp and D sharp, all indicative of E minor.
I’ll try to stop filling this with comments! But I made a mistake - there is a fingered interval of a fifth, but it is the first finger in the first position, so it’s not hard.
It’s definitely in E dorian. A couple of people have already transcribed the tune in the key:
E dorian it is.
All the Cs are sharp, so the key sig should really be two sharps. You could argue that the b part is in E melodic minor, but I’d still want to hear a C nat to establish that. A raised leading tone as an accidental is not really that telling.
O’Neill’s Dancing Master with some changes in the second part!
"I copied this out from a book ~"
Duplication and mistakes aside, it would show some respect to fully credit your sources ~ the book and its author(s)…
From the New World (jig)
"you don’t have to move your fingers across a fifth (fiendish!)"
This isn’t really the right place to comment on technical difficulties (try Discussions) but I can’t let that remark pass without saying that it is not "fiendish" - just a bit strange for the beginner and nothing that can’t be sorted out by a few minutes instruction from a teacher or a more advanced player and followed up by regular practice until the technique is there.
From the New World (jig)
"some differences make this version easier for the less experienced violinist"
I’m not in favour of tunes on this forum being simplified for the benefit of beginners - it detracts from the tune and can confuse other players as to whether it really is an authentic version. Simplifying a tune does not do the beginner any favours because it does not encourage them to advance their technique so as to be able to play the original version. After all, Irish fiddle music is technically remarkably straightforward compared with other genres.
If someone posting a tune believes a simpler version should be provided then that should be done in the Comments and clearly indicated for what it is, and the original version posted as the main posting.
That is obviously no longer possible in this instance so it might be a good idea to post the ABC of the original source here in the Comments.
A few clarifications
Just a few points raised here:
—- I no longer know what to think of the key! But I still think of it as E minor. I’ll try and brush-up extra on the modes before I post anything else. Either way, I’d say a key signature of one sharp, with the tune beginning and ending on E, and the accidentals of C sharp and D sharp in play (as in the melodic minor scale ascending) all suggest to me E minor, even if it could be /perceived/ as being in a mode. I would say a raised leading note is one of the hallmarks of a minor key.
—- There may well be some versions in E dorian, but that doesn’t mean we can just say this piece ‘is in’ any one key, just different versions.
—- I haven’t credited my source because I wasn’t sure if that would be allowed (and btw, there have been no mistakes in the transcription). My source was ‘The Ceilidh Collection’ by Edward Huws Jones.
—- I only posted the easiness points (ie. the jump of a fifth etc.) in retrospect when the relevance of my upload was called into question. It was not my intention to upload this for the inexperienced. (The ABC I entered /was/ the original source btw, not any simplifications on my or any one’s part).
—- I mainly decided to go ahead and upload this because it does differ from the other version in some ways and I just generally prefer this version, and therefore there will be others who do as well.
Hope this has cleared things up 🙂 please have patience with a newcomer!
Technical difficulties pertaining to a particular tune…
make sense in the comments section of that tune. At least, that’s where I find them the most interesting and useful.
This is almost exactly how I play The Swallowtail, and indeed it is in Edor- I usually play a D natural rather than sharp.
It’s E Dorian
If there were C naturals in this tune then it wouldn’t be Dorian but Aeolian instead. However, there are C sharps which means it is Dorian
He’s studying Law at uni, you’d better listen.
I’m not yet practiced enough in the defining points of modes to relevantly comment further, and if people are going to continually and aggressively throw their dogmatics at me then I may as well just quit this site altogether, which is a shame cos I thought it’d be more fun and friendly when I started. All I know is that the chord symbols written to accompany the piece say ‘Em’ as in E minor, and the realised keyboard accompaniment is also in E minor. But I’m not too fussed, it’s how it sounds that matters.
If you do see it as ‘dogma’, because you are convinced you’re right and everyone else here is wrong, then, just maybe, going off in a huff isn’t a bad idea, as it is likely there’s nothing much for you to learn here anyway. You wouldn’t be the first and you wouldn’t be the last. Maybe, as others have, you might even come back, possibly with a new handle. That would be cool too. I don’t think anyone is ‘attacking’ you personally, but trying to clarify some of what you contributed. If you don’t want others to comment, well, you could also choose to go ‘silent running’, or lurk mode…
‘Tis true, we do have more than our share of precious egos in this realm of interest…
Personally, I still consider this a clear ‘duplication’, little different from the contributions already made in the comments of "The Swallowtail"…
I’d stay around if I were you, if you’ve an ounce of sanity your ego will recover and you still might find something to learn here. Whatever your decision ~ best of luck…
Another take on the subject of modes
Mode of this piece
Well, Swallowtail is in E Dorian. It should be written with two sharps in the key signature, and has C sharp but NOT D sharp. That said, you see transcriptions all the time with 1 sharp in the key sig. and the C sharp written as an accidental. That’s technically incorrect but you do see them. Besides that the implied chord progressions are clearly E dorian.
This tune uses D sharp in the B section and has a key signature of 1 sharp. The D sharp show up as the scale ascends and D natural is used when the scale descends. These are characteristics of the so called "melodic minor’ scales, and I suppose by extension this piece, or at least the B section, is in E minor.
So, that takes care of the key of the piece. But on quite another tack I think the change of mode messes up a good tune. It reminds me of some of the transcriptions that are around from the days when musicologists used to "fix" the wrong notes performers played to push the piece into a major or minor (aeolian if you must) scale. Still, as the poster says it is a legit variation of the tune. The fact that I don’t care for it doesn’t make it bad.
Perhaps I have been rather reactionary about it. I guess it’s only because some people were being very cold (which is why I said ‘dogmatic’ - it was as if they were uncompromising know-it-alls’) and I found it a little hurtful. However, it is in my rather weak nature (I can assure you that I unfortunately have no ego!) to forgive and forget, and I’m willing to let all issues drop, because whatever some say, or others say, I love this piece and don’t think that, as a ‘variation’ of The Swallowtail, it is irrelevant because it is still quite different and some may prefer it. It’s all about the music in the end!
Thanks also for the link - now I just face the problem of memorising it all! Major/minor is simple enough, but knowing what key signature for which mode on which tonic etc. - yikes!
thelightisahead, you should be fine, I went through years of classical so learning an extra couple of modes won’t take long coz your head will be full of theory too.
Oh and if I sounded cold, I didn’t intend to be, I just wanted to be concise and straight to the point.
Hi all, I know more about the modes now and just want to apologise for being defensive in the face of those who knew more!
In fact I can tell the book I got it from puts in these ‘wrong’ time signatures just to make things seem major or minor because there’s another tune which has an F# key signature but whenever F appears in the tune, it is natural and thus presented as an accidental - F# never makes an appearance!
The tune is thus in G mixolydian, not G major, and it’d be better if the book, rather than necessarily explaining the modes, at least uses the correct signature (perhaps along with a mention of the mode) and allows you to just take it on the chin that, though the key signature may be blank, it still ends on G, not C/A!
Strange to come back and see what I wrote 3 years ago… how little I knew!
I’ve learnt so much in the meantime; to think I was so sure this version of The Swallowtail is in E MINOR and that I was so sure I was right!
I apologise to all I got defensive with - admittedly, my life was at a rather low ebb at that point.
However I still don’t appreciate being called a ‘precious ego’ or treated like an unknowing newbie who the experts will chuckle at from across the room…