John Jones

In one of Edward Bunting’s little collecting pamphlets from the 1790s, there is a two-page opening containing a live transcription notation and expanded neater version, or the tune of John Jones. You can see the two pages online. They are Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 164/162/171/f80v and page 165/163/172/f81r

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Lady Letty Burke

Edward Bunting made what looks like a live field transcription of the tune of Lady Letty Burke, from the harper Denis O’Hampsey in the 1790s. In this blog post we will have a look at Edward Bunting’s notations, and think about what they can tell us about the old Irish harp tradition.

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A previously unpublished Carolan tune: Kitty Magennis

After I finished working on the tune and story of Eleanor Plunkett, I picked up on a reference from Alasdair Codona’s writings. Alasdair had pointed out that tune no.94 titled “Kitty Magennis” in Donal O’Sullivan’ Carolan the Life Times and Music of an Irish Harper (1958) was actually another version of the tune of Eleanor Plunkett. I added a comment to my Eleanor Plunkett blog post to include a facsimile of O’Sullivan’s source and a typeset and mp3 version.

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Maidin bhog aoibhinn

During the 1790s, Edward Bunting made four different live transcriptions of the tune of Maidin bhog aoibhinn. They are in different sections of QUB SC MS4.29, and were transcribed from four different tradition-bearers. Bunting published a kind of composite or synthetic version of the tune in his Ancient Music of Ireland (1840). In this post we are going to look at the four different live transcriptions, and try to say something useful about each of them.

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Grá na mBan Óg

Edward Bunting made what looks like a live transcription of a tune which he gives two titles, Grá na mBan Óg or James Plunkett. The notation is in one of his 1790s transcription pamphlets, now bound up as Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 197/195/204/f97r.

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Colonel Irwin

In Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 20, there is a line of dots which I have always marked as “unidentified tune”. I just could not work out what is going on here.

However Sylvia Crawford has analysed the mode of the dots and suggests that they represent Bunting’s first attempt to transcribe a harp version of the tune of DOSC 60 Colonel Irwin.

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Madge Malone

In Edward Bunting’s notebooks from the 1790s, there is what looks like a live harp transcription version of the Carolan tune, Madge Malone (DOSC 98).

The transcription is on Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 234/232/241/f115v. It shows what seems to be a dots transcription expanded out with note stems and beams. Then Bunting has made a neat copy based on and derived from the transcription, on the facing page 235/233/242/f116r.

This is a lovely tune, and this transcription has lots of interesting harp idiom in it. But, it is the only source for the tune of Madge Malone as far as I am aware. Because we have three consecutive versions (the transcription, the neat copy, and the published piano arrangement), we can use the changes from one to the next to understand Edward Bunting’s working method, starting from him listening to a live performance by an old Irish harp tradition-bearer, and finishing with a very pianistic classical arrangement intended for wealthy piano amateurs.

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