Here’s a tune for Christmas from the 1798 manuscript of North Yorkshire miller Joshua Jackson. I learned it from the second volume of Jackson’s tunes, edited and published by Robin & Rosalind Shepherd. For details and to order the books (highly recommended) see www.ydw.org.uk/joshua.htm
Both are untitled, so the numbering is (I assume) Andy’s.
Waltz 1 (like ‘The Algerine Waltz’) is from the H.S.J. Jackson manuscript, while number 2 is from James Winder.
I used these at a West Country Concertina Players’ weekend where I was a tutor in 2015. We played them then in the original keys of C (Waltz 1) and D (Waltz 2). Here I’ve put Waltz 2 into C also, so I can get a fuller range of chords on the left hand.
Playing them numerous times over the weekend, it became clear that the two tunes have a very different feel – number 1 is more stately, while number 2 seems to want to be played quite a bit faster, and could sit quite happily in a French music session or bal.
Last weekend I was one of the tutors at the first Witney Supersqueeze, a successor event to the long-running Concertinas at Witney, Melodeons at Witney, and Accordions at Witney. On the Sunday I led sessions looking at tunes in three time – 3/4, 3/2 and 3/8. When looking for 3/8 tunes I had expected to find French Mazurkas and Bourrées, but actually the tunes I turned up were all late eighteenth / early nineteenth century English waltzes. Here’s a couple.
I found ‘Dover Cliffs’ in Bert Simons’ Kentish Hops collection. He gives the source as “Platts (1798)” which presumably is Martin Platts’ Book 25, for the year 1798, of Sthraspeys, Reels, Waltzs & Irish Jiggs: for the Harp, Piano Forte or Violin; with their proper figures, etc. published in London by Longman & Broderip (N.B. I’ve given the title as recorded in the British Library catalogue, so I assume the misspelling of Strathspeys was the fault of Martin Platts, or Messrs Longman & Broderip). It’s given in Bb in Kentish Hops; we played it in G last weekend, and I’ve recorded it now in C.
The Algerine Waltz
This is a tune which, in the end, I didn’t use at Witney. It’s another 3-part waltz, and has a very similar feel to ‘Dover Cliffs’. I found it when searching abc files on my PC for tunes in 3/8, although it turns out I had it in print, in Andy Hornby’s Winders of Wyresdale collection, but had overlooked it when going through the 600-odd tunes in the book.
The source of this tune was H.S.J. Jackson’s 1823 manuscript, which has come down as part of the Winder Family collection (see ‘The Fly-Flappers’ for more on this excellent book, and the Winder family MS).
Incidentally, while looking for any background information on the tune, I discovered
“Algerine” is a synonym for, rather than a misspelling of, “Algerian”.
A tune with the same title was published in Philadelphia by George Willig, in 1842. But, insofar as I can make sense of piano music printed in Bb major, this seems to be a completely different piece.
Some of my compositions have featured on recordings by Magpie Lane and Geckoes. Some get aired fairly regularly at dances. And some languish in a ring-binder on the shelf.
To be fair there are some in that ring-binder where the neglect is probably justified, but there others I really ought to remember to play more often. And then there are the tunes I’d really like to play, but they’re too difficult!
This hornpipe isn’t quite in that category, but I have to say, if I played it more regularly, I think I’d be able to make a better job of it. I came across it a few days ago while flicking through the ring-binder, and noticed that it was inscribed “For Noah Henry Louis Russell 14/10/99”.
Aha! I thought. That’s eighteen years ago: I can record this one in time for Noah’s birthday. Forgetting for a while that the tune was actually written more than a week after he had been born, and the auspicious birthday had already passed.
So – with many apologies for forgetting your eighteenth birthday, Noah – here’s a sincere, if belated, Happy Birthday from me, and all the Turners.
With proper Figures and Directions to each Dance performed at Almack’s, Bath and all Public Assemblies.
London Printed by Goulding and D’Almaine, No. 20 Soho Sq. & to be had of I. Willie 7 Westmd. St Dublin.
The OED defines a fly-flapper as
One who drives away flies with a fly-flap
with example of use including “That fellow is only fit for fly-flapper at a pork shop!” (1829) and (I’d guess of some colonial dignitary in India) “Beside him walked the fly-flappers” (1859).
But there is also a figurative usage, from Charles James’ A new and enlarged military dictionary; or, Alphabetical explanation of technical terms (1810)
a figurative term alluding to any person who being in the confidence of another, keeps off impertinent intruders.
When I first encountered this tune I thought it a bit of an oddity, but actually I think it would make a pretty good – if slightly unusual – dance tune. Might go nicely with the tune I posted last week, The Bird Catchers.
Three jigs, written at various times over the last 40 years.
I wrote the ‘Cuckoldscoomb Jig’ in around 1977, having spotted the name Cuckoldscoomb on a local Ordnance Survey map and being rather taken with it (it’s a combe, or dry valley, set in the North Downs, near Wye). When first written, the tune was strongly influenced by ‘Rosie Finn’s Favourite’, as played on the Bothy Band’s LP Old hag you have killed me. At the time I would have played it on tin whistle or mandolin. I’ve tried it occasionally on concertina in the intervening years, but was never inspired to play it very often. But recently it came into my head while messing around on the one-row, and it seemed like finally I’d found the right instrument for it. This recording was made immediately after that discovery.
Played on one-row melodeon in C
‘The Limnel Tree’ is based loosely – very loosely – on the melody of the song ‘O Once I was a Shepherd Boy’. When we were recording the song for the Magpie Lane CD Six for Gold, Mat Green and I were in one room, Sophie Thurman and Benji Kirkpatrick in another. The song rattles along at quite a pace, and I must have been having trouble spitting the words out. As we finished one take, through the cans I heard Benji say “What are the lyrics? Something about a Chinaman shaking with cold?” (it’s supposed to be “shining and shaking with cold”); “and anyway, what is a limnel tree?” (er – it’s “neither a limb nor tree”). These mondegreens have stayed with the band, and on more than one occasion it was suggested that I ought to write a tune called ‘The Limnel Tree’. It appears that I finally got round to doing so in September 2009 – a mere seven years after the suggestion had originally been made!
The Limnel Tree
Played on G/D anglo-concertina
I have absolutely no recollection of writing ‘The Downpour’, but I’d guess it was made up around a dozen years ago, whilst walking back to Reading railway station after work. In the rain, presumably.
Played on one-row melodeon in C
For anyone who likes this sort of thing, I’ve put the dots for all three tunes in abc format below.