New term, new tune: The Road to Lisdoonvarna

The new term began with a look at The Road to Lisdoonvarna. The tune is a slide, which is a type of jig in 12/8 time that is common to the SW of Ireland.

Like many slides, this tune goes with a swing and mostly suits single strikes and cuts for decoration. I have notated the tune and some options for decoration and this can be found with a recording on this year’s resources page. We will follow it with a slide called The Priest and I have notated a basic version of this as well.

We spoke about different decoration types in the class. Cuts and strikes combine to make a roll; a series of cuts is used to make up a cran, which is usually on a D, but can sometimes be on an E.

The exercise for developing strikes, cuts and rolls on whistles and flutes was taught at a workshop by Breton flute player Sylvain Barou. There are some good recordings of his solo performances to be found and his website has links to some of those.

Take a listen to Conal O Grada’s playing with The Raw Bar Collective for ways of pushing more air to a note to emphasise the rhythm, particularly on polkas and slides, as well as some use of that expressive “dirty D” that was discussed.

I first put this set together when I played for a group of set dancers in Edinburgh. Some more music from there can be found on The Flow, a sister web site to this one that I hope to find time to properly update one day. This Youtube video shows slides being danced in a set dance, which provides some useful context for the talk of swing and rhythm.

Slides are related to single jigs in form, but are quite distinct. There’s a decent overview of tune types at Alan Ng’s web site and a useful discussion on The Session.

The Chieftains recorded this as a slide and then as a reel (in Dmix, as opposed to Emix). The reel itself is interesting as is it seems closely related to a reel called All the Way to Galway, which in turn is closely related to a Scottish reel, All the Way to Galloway, to be found in Kerr’s Merry Melodies.

Lisdoonvarna is on the west coast of County Clare, an area known for its traditional music and the home to a music festival, a matchmaking festival, and features in song, including one by Christy Moore.

Photo: 9 Km to Doolin 12 Km to Lisdoonvarna by Juan Luis Sotillo, some rights reserved.

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