Scan Tester’s / Seamo’s

Scan Tester. Photograph copyright Brian Shuel.

Scan Tester. Photograph copyright Brian Shuel.


The first tune here is listed as ‘Polka No. 3’ on the Scan Tester double-CD I never played to many posh dances. I play it rather faster than Scan did – making it more like a step-dance tune, I think.


Oscar Woods. Photo from EATMT.

Oscar Woods. Photo from EATMT.




The second tune, Seamo’s Polka, comes from the Suffolk one-row player Oscar Woods. As ‘Untitled Polka’ – and played much slower than I take it – it’s on Rig-a-Jig-Jig, Volume 9 of The Voice of The People, but I learned it from the transcription in the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust’s excellent tune book Before the Night Was Out… Oscar learned it from the Seaman brothers from Darsham, hence his title for the tune.



Scan Tester’s No. 3 / Seamo’s Polka

Played on a Hohner four-stop one-row melodeon in C

The Brothers

A fine melodeon tune from before the melodeon had been invented. This was included in Book 2 of James Aird’s Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (printed in Glasgow at some point between 1782 and 1795).

You can get the notation in ABC format, as I did, from Jack Campin’s website:

The Brothers

Played on a Hohner four-stop one-row melodeon in C

On A Cold Winter’s Day / When ye Cold winter nights were frozen

Two more tunes found when looking for Christmas/Winter material.

‘On A Cold Winter’s Day’ is from O’Neill’s Music Of Ireland sourced, indirectly, from It’s given by O’Neill in F# minor. That’s doable on a G/D, but I prefer to play it either in E minor, or in D minor on my C/G. Both options below.

Played on C/G anglo-concertina.

Played on G/D anglo-concertina.

‘When ye Cold winter nights were frozen’ or ‘The Banks of Yaro’ is from David Johnson’s edition of tunes from James Thomson’s Music Book (1702 – National Library of Scotland MS. 2833). I found it via The notes in the ABC transcription say

Posted June 29th 2000 at abcusers by Jack Campin during a discussion about tune identification algorithms.
Jack said: “Here’s a set of tunes that for a dead cert are genetically related.
Do any of the tune-matching algorithms suggested here detect that”

Among the other related tunes posted, I imagine there would have been ‘Sir John Fenwick’s the Flower Among them All’ and ‘The Smiths a Gallant Fireman’ – but as Chris Partington points out, in relation to another title, ‘The Flower of Yarra’

The dedicated tune spotter will find it appearing as an air, waltz, minuet, jig, reel, strathspey and hornpipe, often hidden behind alternative titles like Berwick Lasses, Carrick’s Rant, and The Smiths a Gallant Fireman (though with some of these versions we enter the realm of the old chestnut “at what stage of change does one tune become another”).

All good tunes, and all worth playing. This version is given in 6/4. I interpret that as a slightly lumpy march rhythm – I don’t think it wants to go any faster, and I for one couldn’t play it any faster when it gets to those runs of quavers.

Played on G/D anglo-concertina.

The Holly / The Holly Berry

Two tunes with seasonal sounding names, gleaned from a search of the Internet for Christmas and Winter tunes.

The first is ‘Y Gelynnen’ (‘The Holly’), a Welsh set dance, which I found at, and which has been transcribed from Volume 2 of the Welsh tune collection, Blodau’r Grug.

And then ‘The Holly Berry’, which I found on I assume it’s American, but actually I know nothing at all about it.

Both tunes played on C/G anglo-concertina



The Rose Tree

It’s Bampton day of dance tomorrow – hooray!

So to celebrate, here’s the very first morris dance I learned, when I joined Oyster Morris back in September 1978.

C/G anglo-concertina, four-stop one-row melodeon in C

Lumps of Plum Pudding – Sevenhampton

I’ve been around morris dancers today, and that steady 6/8 rhythm just gets under your skin. So here’s an interesting version of ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ from the playing of Thomas Danley of Sevenhampton in Gloucestershire. This is one of five morris tunes and one country dance tune which Cecil Sharp collected from Mr Danley on 30th August 1909.

Sharp’s transcription shows some of the Cs as C#? I’ve decided to play all of these as C sharps just because it makes it less like the usual version of this tune (although they’re F sharps in my version, because I’m playing the tune in C on a C/G anglo).

Tip Top Polka

My most recent post at A Folk Song A Week features a Bb/F anglo which I’ve borrowed from Rob Fidler, fool with Bampton Morris. The main reason I asked Rob if I could borrow the instrument was to work out some song arrangements – there’s a few songs where I have an arrangement already on the C/G, but as I get older I find that I can’t reach the high notes as comfortably as once I did, so taking it down a tone is a blessing to both the singer and the listener.

But one can’t have an anglo in the house and not use it to play some dance tunes. And, as Bb is a natural brass band key, this tune popped into my head. It is, of course, associated with the Britannia Coconut Dancers of Bacup in Lancashire.

Here they are, recorded in their natural habitat, on Easter Saturday 2014. With the brass band playing, I now realise, in Eb!

Bb/F anglo-concertina