Burns’s March

Burns’s March is one of the first tunes taught to young harpers. In this blog post I am going to describe the live transcription notations that we have from Irish harper tradition-bearers in the late 18th and early 19th century. Then I will try and find derived works that give us contextual information and attribution tags. And finally I will look at some independent versions or variants in other sources.

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Codladh an tSionnaigh

Edward Bunting wrote both tune and text of the song Codladh an tSionnaigh into his little collecting pamphlets, some time in the 1790s. He also wrote a fragment of an instrumental variation into a different collecting pamphlet, apparently at a different place and time.

These notations are very interesting. The song tune and lyrics especially is perhaps unique in Bunting’s manuscripts. In this post we will look at what he has put in his collecting pamphlets, and collate this against other versions of the song, and try to say something useful about the tune and Bunting’s notation of it.

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A previously unpublished Carolan tune: Kitty Magennis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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Na Gamhna Geala

In one of his little 1790s collecting pamphlets, Edward Bunting made what looks like a live transcription from a traditional performance of the tune of Na Gamhha Geala. The page is now bound up as part of Queen’s University Belfast, Special Collections, MS4.29 page 198/196/205/f97v.

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Bruach na Carraige Báine

Edward Bunting made what looks like it might be a live transcription of a performance of the traditional Irish song air, Bruach na Carraige Báine, onto the fifth page of his “Damn your Body” transcription pamphlet, some time in the 1790s.

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Ailí Gheal Chiúin Ní Chearbhaill

I first came across the song of Ailí Gheal Chiúin Ní Chearbhaill from the singing of Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. You can read her commentary about this song in her book A Hidden Ulster (2003) p.220-223, or on her Oriel Arts website where you can also see a video of Pádraigín singing the song with harp accompaniment by Sylvia Crawford.

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The Weaver’s Lamentation

Edward Bunting wrote a song with a full piano arrangement into one of his collecting pamphlets, probably in the summer of 1792. I was going to silently pass over these pages as part of my Old Irish Harp Transcriptions Project, but I thought that actually this is an interesting enough thing to do a post about it.

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