A fantastic O’Carolan tune, we played it in a group many years ago and it Baroque feel using cello, harp, violin, and pipes.
Great tune - but be aware that it’s only called a "polka" because it’s in 2/4. It hasn’t got a polka feel about it (not surprising - the polka as we know it wasn’t around in Carolan’s time), and if it were written in 4/4 then it would be much closer to a reel.
Must disagree with your comment ‘lazyhound’. To me it does have a polka feel and 2/4 is the right signature. Consider the contrast between those bars with 2 pairs of quavers and those bars with to sets of 4 semi-quavers. Fairly standard in many Irish Polkas, e.g. "Johnny Leary’s", "St. Mary’s".
Each bar has a 2-beat emphasis anyway but I suppose we should use the term ‘Polka’ with care. Being an ex morris dancer I cannot help thinking about the stepping that could go with this tune, being: 1.2.3 HOP.
@ hetty - are you suggesting that there is some fundemental difference between the Morris dancer’s "double-step" and the polka step?
Morris "Double-Step" and "Polka Step"
Both are: 1,2,3 HOP. but I’ve never danced the morris double step going round and round in a circle movement. And certainly not holding my fellow morris dancers in a ballroom, or similar hold. however I have danced a polka step with a female partner and perambulated around a dancefloor either slowly & sparingly or boldly and flamboyantly in a circular momentum completely seperately from any other dancers. So I suppose IMHO there is a fundamental difference in the execution of said step therefore the labels.
On the Hop!
Yes hetty - and I would also be the wrong length for most polka dances …
… not to mention that "polkas" didn’t exist in O’Carolan’s time …. 😉
We can hear it also on O’Stravaganza by Hugues de courson (perhaps that is what you’re telling about JACKB)
Re: Miss McDermot’s
there is another recording of this- on ‘Clannad’s’ 1972 debut album, track 8, titled ‘Mrs. McDermott’. There is another section in their version & it is played in a different key (E minor?), but it is definitely the same tune.
Re: Miss McDermot’s
This tune was composed in the 1700s by Turlough O’ Carolan as an allegretto air honoring a daughter in his main patron’s family. Carolan’s compositions (215 known) come down as single melody lines and occasionally baffling time signatures like 6/4 and weird (to us) keys. Miss McDermott (with two ‘t’s) was this tune’s original title and it was and is also known as the Princess Royal, appears in four flats (Ab Major / F Minor). Fortunately almost any of Carolan’s compositions wind up being "safe at any speed" and some are played for a good many different types of dances. If ya plays it like a polka it’s a polka. Most players I know play the tune in one sharp (G Major / E Minor) a semitone lower than composed, as Julie mentioned above.
More than you want to know about this melody can be found in:
O`Sullivan, Donal—Carolan: the Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper (Cork: Ossian Publications Ltd., 2001 ).
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