The Scholar reel

By James Hill

Also known as Poor Scholar, The Poor Scholar, The Scolair, The South Shore.

There are 91 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Scholar appears in 6 other tune collections.

The Scholar has been added to 91 tune sets.

The Scholar has been added to 641 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: The Scholar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:dfaf gfeg|fdAG FGA=c|BGFG EFGg|fdec dcBA|
dfaf gfeg|fdAG FGA=c|BGFG EFGg|fdec d4:|
|:a2af dfaf|dfaf bagf|g2ge =cege|=cege afgf|
a2af dfaf|dfaf bagf|g2gf gbag|fdec d4:|
X: 2
T: The Scholar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
a2 af dfaf|cfaf Bfaf|g2 ge cege|Bege Aege|
a2 af dfaf|cfaf Bfaf|g2 gf gbag|fdec defg|
X: 3
T: The Scholar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A|:defg fdec|A2AG FGA=c|BGGB cAAg|fdec dcBA|
defg fdec|A2AG FGA=c|BGGB cAAg|1 fdec d4:|2 fdec defg||
|:a2fa d2fa|d2fa agfa|g2eg =c2eg|=c2ef gedf|
a2fa d2fa|d2fa agfa|g2gf gbag|1 f/g/a ec defg:|2 f/g/a ec d4||
# Added by EndaS .
X: 4
T: The Scholar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
dfaf gfeg|fdAF DAFc|BGAF GE~E2|fd ec dcBA|
dfaf g2eg|fdAF DFAc|(3BAG AF GBeg|fdec d3A|
d~f3 g~e3|fdec dA~A2|BG~G2 AF~F2|GEce dcBA|
d2fa gfge|fdec dA~A2|BGAF GE~E2|fdec d3f|
abaf dfAd|FAdf bagf|gage ceAc|eAce gefg|
abaf dfAd|fAdf bagf|gfed cfaf|fd (3gfe d2fg|
abaf dfAd|BAdg bagf|gagf ceAc|EAce gefg|
abaf dgAd|eAdf bagf|gfed cfag|fdec d2|
(3FGA|d2fa gfge|fdec dA~A2|BGAF GBeg|
fd (3gfe dcBA|DFAd GBeg|fdec dBcA|BGAF GBeg|fdec d3A|
df~f2 ge~e2|fdec dA~A2|(3BAG cA GBeg|fd (3gfe dcBA|
d2fa gfge|fdec dA~A2|BGAF GE~E2|fdec d2fg|
a2 (3FGA dfAd|FAdf bagf|g2 (3FGA cFAc|(3FGA ce gefg|
a2 (3FGA dfAd|(3FGA dg bagf|gfed ceag|fdec d2fg|
a2 (3FGA dFAd|(3FGA df bagf|g2 (3FGA ceAc|(3FGA df geFG|
A2 (3FGA dFAd|(3FGA dg bagf|gfed ceag|fdec d3A|
dfAd GEeg|fdec dA~A2|BGAF GE~E2|fdec dcBA|
dfAd gfeg|fd (3gfe dAFA|(3BAG AF GBeg|fdec d3A|
d2fa gfge|fdec dA~A2|BGAF GE~G2|daec dcBA|
FAdf gfge|fd (3gfe dAFA|BGAF GBeg|fdec d3f|
abaf dgBd|FAdg bagf|fafe cfAd|eAce gefg|
abaf dfAd|BAdz bagf|gfed cfag|fdec d2fg|
abaf dgAd|FAdg bagf|gage ceAc|EAce gefg|
abaf dFAd|FAdf bagf|gfed ceag|fdec d2|
X: 5
T: The Scholar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:(3ABc|dfaf gfeg|fdAG FGA=c|BGFG E3g|fde^c dcBA|
dfaf gfeg|fdAG FGA=c|BGFG E3g|1 fde^c d2:|2 fde^c defg||
|:a3f dfaf|dfaf bagf|g3e =cege|=cege agfg|
a3f dfaf|dfaf bagf|g3f gbag|1 fde^c defg:|2 fde^c d2||
# Added by JACKB .

Twenty-one comments

This is a tune of many faces. I’ve heard played as a hornpipe. I’ve heard it played lovely and slow. I’ve heard it played at breakneck speed.

Try playing with different tempos and phrasing to find the one that’s right for you.

A nice little variation is to replace the opening two notes (d and f) with one long d note.

I really like the way that natural c note sticks out, especially in the second part.

Here’s a great variation on the second part courtesy of Will Harmon:

a2 af dfaf| cfaf Bfaf|g2 ge cege|Bege Aege|
a2 af dfaf|cfaf Bfaf|g2 gf gbag|fdec defg|

Goes well with the Teetotaler’s Reel.

True Story

Let the contest begin!

I’ve added some details, omitted from the original version to keep it short.

Some people say they would be annoyed if a person walked into their session expecting to play jigs and reels on their saxophone or Moravian nose flute. Well, those aren’t the worst instruments ever uncased. To wit:

A “musician” once came to a session here in Montana (in Missoula, actually), intent on playing his rocks--or as Zina puts it, getting his rocks off. Yep, stones--not bones. That’s not a typo. This guy had picked up two baking potato-sized cobblestones from the Clark Fork River and claimed they were “finely tuned” (which is more than we could say about him). They were nice, rounded river-polished lumps of granite, suitable for paperweights, or stops for your screen door.

But when the circle launced into the Scholar, he proceeded to bang his rocks against each other as loud as possible and in no discernible rhythm--kinda like “uber” bones played by a manic chimp.

He became very irate when the session leader asked--no, *told*--him to stop. Now that I think about it, the leader said something to the effect of putting the rocks back where they came from, down as deep as they’d sink--and then under his breath suggesting that the with any luck the rocks would be in the player’s own pockets when they hit bottom.

To top it off, the rocker, er, stone-ist, swore his head off as he left, calling the leader (a friend of mine) a &$%#@ing elitist $%#&* with no musical taste.

I’ve always enjoyed the Scholar, but it’s a shame we weren’t playing the Rocks of Cashel, the Stoney Step, Rocky Road to Dublin, Gravel Walks, Eleanor “Plunkett” (sorry ;o), or perhaps--wistfully--the Rolling Waves….

Posted .


These comments are crap. Hope I don’t know any of you personally. Come to Ireland for a long time and play in a few more sessions, learn how to think about Irish music !

Sorry, your comments don’t make any sense to me.


Maybe it’s the stone banger slainte? They may have missed in their exuberance, raising their hands up high and accidentally catching their head between the two stones?

No doubt what Adrienne is missing is that my comments appear here out of context. Five years ago, someone started a discussion thread about “worst session experiences,” and that jogged this incident loose in my memory. Because the stone banger came unhinged during The Scholar, I added this to the comments here.

It’s not a critique of the tune, or of percussionists in general. Just a silly anecdote about one particular participant at a session once.

If Adrienne wants to take it personally and get his knickers in a twist over it, that’s his choice. No skin off my nose….

Posted .

Will’s Variation

As per the comment at the very top, is a similar idea to the way Altan play Paddy’s Trip to Scotland (second part)

Mode Bore

At the risk of becoming a mode bore, I see this tune in D mixolydian rather than D major (with a couple of twists back to D with c sharps)

This tune was written by a Sligo family about their daughter-- the scholar-- who was sent away to boarding school, and about how much they missed her. A woman at today’s sess sang it-- cool-- and says that a band named Midnight Well do the sung version.


Proof of that statement, please ? The reel “The Scholar” is a good bit older than “Midnight Well”.

Posted by .

New version

This is the version that I heard from the playing of Cathal McConnell and which I recorded recently on my new album ‘Síocháin na Tuaithe:Peace of the Countryside’.

A |: defg fdec | A2AG FGA=c | BGGB cAAg | fdec dcBA |
defg fdec | A2AG FGA=c | BGGB cAAg |1 fdec d4 :|2 fdec defg ||
|: a2fa d2fa | d2fa agfa | g2eg =c2eg | =c2ef gedf |
a2fa d2fa | d2fa agfa | g2gf gbag |1 f/g/a ec defg :|2 f/g/a ec d4 ||

Posted by .

The Scholar

X:4 from the piping of Tommy Reck, transcribed by Dutch pipers Peter Laban and Robert van Dijk, from a recording they made when they had Tommy over for a tionol in 1989; their transcription work was published in An Píobaire, Vol. 3 No. 11, in 1992, shortly after Tommy’s death. They also transcribed his playing of Bonnie Kate, the Irish Washerwoman, and the Harvest Home, this last item I transcribed myself and added here as an alternate setting. I’ve left out all the staccato marks and grace notes here. Tommy played much the same setting or variations on the Drones and Chanters LP. The very elaborate melody on display here always struck me as perhaps a folk memory of a more elaborate version of James Hill’s tune that was simplified for publication - all those arpeggios sounds like something from his pen.

NPU has the videotape of Tommy when he was the guest at the Dutch tionol up on their Source website, too.


Thanks, Kevin, for such a splendid transcription. Lots of fun for the fiddle….


Terrific transcription. Thanks, Kevin.