Lucy Farr’s Barndance plus one

This week we caught up with some of Amble’s tunes from when she took the class. Our main focus was Lucy Farr’s Barndance and we followed this with another, Where in the World Would we be Without Women?

Lucy Farr was a fiddle player from east Galway, who ended up living in London. She featured on the influential 1968 recording Paddy in the Smoke, which was a live recording from the London session scene of the time. There is a great profile of Lucy Farr here. Fetch a cup of tea to have while reading that one as it is as detailed as it is fascinating.

Our barndance is one of two associated with Lucy Farr, who called it The Kilnamona Barndance according to flute player Niall Kenny on this lengthy discussion on The Session. There is also some discussion about it’s identity as a German (Northern Irish dance form) and a 7-step dance (also German, possibly the same dance). I know little about this dance form other than it has a similar musical feel to a barndance, which in itself feels like a little like hornpipe.

Once in a session in Sandy Bell’s, someone from the Western Isles sang in Gaelic to this tune when I played it and told me it was well known and that the song translated as I Saw the Cat. It is worth checking out the recording by fiddler Martin Hayes, from neighbouring east Clare, of a much-slowed down and meditative version of this simple but effective tune.

If We Hadn’t Any Women in the World is a barndance that could follow Lucy’ Farr’s quite nicely. Harry Bradley recorded this on As I Carelessly Did Stray…, but he cites Hammy Hamilton’s recording on Moneymusk as the source. I believe that I may have heard this on an early cassette version of that recording (and have misremembered the title slightly too — Where in the World Would We Be Without Women?). Hammy Hamilton’s fine version is freely available online and I note that he freely switches phrases around, which may also account for my own fluid setting of the tune. Again, many versions and much discussion on The Session website. The tune was first recorded by James Morrison in 1928 according to the sleeve notes.

Dots, ABCs and recordings for both tunes can be found in the Resources section.

Photo of Lucy Farr via Mustrad.



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