2019-08 Tune of the Month Hector the Hero

  1. HonketyHank
    The August 2019 Tune of the Month is Hector the Hero, aka Hector MacDonald the Hero. The Song of the Week thread for Hector the Hero can be found here: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...cussionid=1268 .

    Hector A. MacDonald was born a commoner on a farm in Ross-shire, Scotland in 1853. In 1870 he joined the Inverness-shire Highland Rifle Volunteers and in 1871 enlisted in the 92nd Gordon Highlanders as a private. Through his combination of bravery in battle and natural leadership qualities he rose rapidly through the non-commissioned ranks, was offered a commission, then continued his rise. By 1902 he had attained the second highest rank of the British Army and had served as Aide de Camp to Queen Victoria. He had received numerous battlefield commendations and was knighted for his sevices.

    In 1903 he was Commander in Chief of British forces in Ceylon where he was accused of scandalous behavior and was advised by the Governor of Ceylon to return to London to allow the rumors to subside. During his trip back to Ceylon, he read in a Paris newspaper that "serious charges" had been made against him and he committed suicide that same day.

    Hector MacDonald is regarded as a national hero in Scotland, where it is widely believed that he was the victim of jealousy, snobbery, and outright slander. Were he the son of a duke, the conventional wisdom goes, the whole affair would have been swept under the rug, regardless of the truth or falsehood of the allegations.

    The tune and lyrics for Hector the Hero were composed in 1903 by MacDonald's friend, composer and fiddler James Scott Skinner. It is a classic Scottish lament and as such is highly reminiscent of Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of His Second Wife. Like Niel Gow's Lament, this tune is a free flowing, slow fiddle tune in 6/8 time. And, like Gow's tune, it is often notated in in 3/4, which makes no musical sense unless you change the rhythm around to suit (and then it doesn't sound like a lament).

    There are several versions presented at thesession.org, https://thesession.org/tunes/1292 , where they are shown as 'waltzes'. That is indeed lamentable.

    Here is an American group's presentation of the tune to show how one non-scottish mandolin player ** interprets the melody, with a nice fiddle solo, too.


    Following is one of the thesession.org's abc text (I corrected the time signature):
    X: 1
    T: Hector The Hero
    Z: glauber
    S: https://thesession.org/tunes/1292#setting14597
    R: slow air
    M: 6/8
    L: 1/8
    K: Dmaj
    |:D/E/ | "D"F>ED "G"B2A/F/ | "D"~A3 "D"A2D/E/ | "Bm"F2E/D/ "G"B2A/F/ |
    "Em"~E3 "A"E2F/A/ | "Bm"F>ED "G"B2A/F/ | "D"A2D "G"d2B |
    "D"A2D/F/ "A"E2D | "D"D3- "D"~D2 :||: F/A/ | "G"B2G/B/ "G"d2c/B/ |
    "D"A2-A/B/ "D"A2F/A/ | "Bm"B2A/F/ "Bm"A2D/F/ | "Em"E2-E/F/ "A"E2F/A/ |"Bm"B2G/B/ "G"d2c/B/ |
    [1"D"A2G/F/ "G"d2G | "D"F2D/F/ "A"E2D | "D"D3- "D"D2 :|
    [2 "D"A2D "G"d2B | "D"A2D/F/ "A"E2D | "D"D3- "D"D2 |]

    I think I feel a mandola presentation of this coming on.

    ** Actually, he does look scottish. Maybe he's scotch-irish, like my mother's family.
  2. bbcee
    I gave the submissions over on the SAW group a listen the other day - there's a lot of good versions, all sorts of different interpretations. Hope that people find the time to try it, there's no wrong way to play this (well, that's not true, but you know what I mean).
  3. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Please excuse the false start. This arrangement by Nigel Gatherer. There is a Scottish Snatch in the B section.
  4. HonketyHank
    Nice little double stop there at the end. I like the confident way you play. You got the early worm again!
  5. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    August 2, huh? You win the anti-procrastination award. It sounds good.

    As Henry points out, this is another 6/8 tune. I was looking at the various versions of it on The Session a while ago. Plenty of time to study them as they absolutely, steadfastly refused to print. Anyway, to continue the conversation about 3/4 vs 6/8, there's plenty of material there. Using Henry's link, there are eleven versions.

    The first version, by ScottC, is a bit of a mess. He has put it in 3/4, often successfully. But. What's up with that bar at the end of the first line? It continues onto the second line and contains four beats. And then there are the last two lines. Huh? The second version, by glauber, would work pretty well if it was in 6/8. In 3/4, there are all sorts of weird syncopations, making it difficult to read. Slainte understands 3/4, and has accurately put the tune into 3. Good work, slainte.

    Next up, Banjo Joe. His is marked 3/4, but his notation is 3/8! The way it is there are 1 1/2 beats per bar. He could take out every other bar line, call it 6/8, and be on to something. And so it goes. Paul95 put together a nicely laid out 6/8 version—all except for the 3/4 marking on it. Not one single person marked it 6/8. Why?
  6. bbcee
    Here's my go at it. Thanks to LouiseNM & HonketyHank for their input on how to make it sound 6/8 - I'm not sure if I succeeded or not! I used Don Greiser's mandocello version in the Song of the Week thread for inspiration (for approach - he's playing in C, whereas I'm playing in D). There's a bunch of good versions over there. Played on my oval hole, which is winning a lot more of my attention these days.

    I couldn't help but make a medley, though I should have played "Midnight" to a click, there's some pretty rough patches. This is the first time I've played guitar since falling into the mandolin rabbit hole 4 years ago. Too many strings!! AND, I'm making my debut as a melodica player. I picked one up a while ago and have been looking for an opportunity to add it. I find it hard to strum Anyway, enjoy.

  7. HonketyHank
    I think you oughta hang on to that oval hole mandolin. It works really good for you - you draw out a nice round and mellow tone. I like the rhythm and the interesting rhythm patterns you employ, too.
  8. SOMorris
    That was great!
  9. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    This sounds great! Nice shift from the 6/8 to the 3/4. It all has a nice, relaxed feeling.
  10. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Beautiful work Bruce!

    For some reason, Maudlin’s video won’t play on my iPhone! I had that problem recently with one of Bruce’s videos as well. Not sure why most YT videos play well and a few just don’t play at all, but I hope to watch it on my laptop soon.

    Bruce, I really love that tune, Midnight on the Water, and I practice it often. That’s a sweet version!
  11. bbcee
    Thanks so much for the nice comments. I look forward to hearing more versions!

    Mark, I tried to do something different than the version we did together. It sure is a nice tune to play.
  12. HonketyHank
    I had trouble with this one. I think it had more to do with motivation than anything else.

    You guys have already met my beanie baby bear from South Carolina. If you look carefully, you may meet another of my mascots. A cute little camel from Jordan. I have kept it because it reminds me of a little girl named Jordan who is now all grown up and would probably be embarrassed to know about the camel. She is the grand-daughter of the lady who was my dad's significant other during his last years.

  13. bbcee
    Excellent Henry! I like your rhythmic approach, and the well-executed tremolo harmonies. That mandola sounds even better than it did when you first got it.
  14. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Really nice, Henry. The bit of accompaniment just in spots is effective.

    I love watching your doppelgänger come and go!
  15. HonketyHank
    Thanks, guys. That mandola is a Weber Bitterroot. I had pretty much given up on hoping to find a nice arch top Weber mandola at a good price and I was enjoying the Gibson. But this one came to my attention in July. I went to "just look" at it. With me, that is like going to "just look" at kittens. The Gibson now has a nice new home in South Carolina.
  16. Louise NM
    Louise NM

    We fell for that "just looking" thing a couple of months ago.
  17. HonketyHank
  18. Chaya
    That was beautiful, Henry. I love your mandola, too.
  19. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Very nice, Henry!
  20. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Chaya and Mark!
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