SMG term ends with a bendy polka for whistles

The SMG summer term ended this week and we finished with the second of two polkas I learned from Conal  Ó Gráda some years ago.

A distinctive feature of this tune is the opening of the B part, which is a long c# that cuts across the main rhythm and comes as a surprise to the listener.

As this is a relatively weak note on the flute and whistle, sometimes with suspect tuning, a big sliding grace note bends from B through c natural to further enhance the tune at this point.

This tune has  a very strong Scottish connection as it appears to be a version of The Hopeful Lover. The version I have recorded and added to the class resources tune list comes from the Fourth Ceilidh Collection for Fiddlers by Christine Martin and Anne Hughes. Nigel Gatherer has a version closer to our Irish polka and gives Isle of Mull accordionist Bobby MacLeod as his source.

How it got to Ireland and changed is open to speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy Shand was involved in some way as he was as well-known in Ireland as elsewhere in the world. Jimmy Shand and Bobby MacLeod most certainly played together, as this photo nicely captures, (from this tribute web site to Scottish Dance accompanist David Flockhart).

The Barren Rocks of Aden, Mairi’s Wedding and Farewell to Whisky are other examples of Scottish tunes that lead a double life in Ireland as polkas.

Resources for both versions of this tune can be found over at The Flow. Check out the Scots Music Group web site for details of next term’s dates and booking details as they go up. FluteFling classes continue until the end of June.

Photo of Bobby MacLeod from the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, all rights reserved.

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