2020-11 Tune of the Month Chief O'Neill's Favorite

  1. HonketyHank
    The Tune of the Month for November, 2020, is Chief O'Neill's Favorite. The SAW thread [https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...ussionid=1563] for this tune contains several fine videos and unfortunately many more which are no longer accessible. But YouTube has quite a few versions available, including some that may be among those inaccessible SAW videos.

    Chief Francis O'Neill was the Chief of Police in Chicago just after the turn of the 20th century. His hobby (passion, actually) was collecting the music of Ireland as played by recent Irish immigrants. Some say that he recruited new police officers based on their ability to play Irish music. Chief O'Neill published several volumes of the tunes he collected, the most famous being "O'Neill's Music of Ireland" (published in 1903 and aka O'Neill's 1850) and "The Dance Music of Ireland" (published in 1907 and aka O'Neill's 1001).

    One of O'Neill's primary sources was Edward Cronin, an Irish immigrant fiddler from Tipperary. Somehow Cronin managed to avoid recruitment into the Chicago police force. The story goes that Cronin played this tune for O'Neill and O'Neill loved it immediately. But Cronin could not remember the name of the tune. Hence the title. The tune must have indeed been O'Neill's favorite hornpipe. It appears as the first tune in the section devoted to hornpipes in both O'Neill's 1850 and O'Neill's 1001.

    The folks at thesession.org seem to use the O'Neill's Favorite title even as many object to the presence of f naturals and c naturals in a tune that is often referred to as being in the key of D major. The f natural in the B part of many versions, in particular, draws comments that refer to it as "an Americanization" or "a modern interpretation" or even "hardly anybody in Ireland plays it that way." I, for one, actually do like the Americanized version which seems to be in D mixolydian with a bit of D dorian to form the first phrase of the B part. Indeed, most of the settings shown at thesession.org are based on this modernization. In straight D major, the tune seems a bit bland to me.

    I should note that a cursory reading of the tune's notation in O'Neill's 1850 and O'Neill's 1001 reveals a crucial difference: the 1895 notation is in straight, plain, D major. All f's and c's are sharped. The 1001 notation presents the red-haired, Americanized, modernized, version with a mix of f sharps and naturals and c sharps and naturals.

    So if "almost nobody in Ireland plays it that way", and given that the title of the tune is purely American, and that the source of the tune remembered it from when he grew up in Ireland, surely there must be an Irish history. The folks at thesession.org mention The Flowers of Ardigne and The True Lovers' Hornpipe as precursors. I have seen other references to The Flowers of Adrigole as the actual title. But I can find no references to tunes by those names except as "aka Chief O'Neill's Favorite" with notation that is pretty obviously taken from O'Neill's books. I have left an enquiry at thesession.org for any comments on the tune's Irish history pre-O'Neill, but no responses yet.

    Two videos resurrected from the many inaccessible videos on the SAW thread:

    Bernd Bannach


    Jill McAuley


    By the way, there is a very nice documentary on Francis O'Neill and his prominent place in Irish music. It was produced at WTTW-TV, a Chicago Public Broadcasting System station. https://www.pbs.org/video/wttw-docum...rancis-oneill/
  2. Spragster
    Ive been messing with this all month and even though its in D im finding several of the c# want to be natural c in my ear. No accidentals are notated on most of the versions ive come across. Anyone else struggling with this?
  3. HonketyHank
    I tend to like the first setting at thesession.org best, where some of the c#'s fit nicely and others are flatted to a c natural. That setting is a transcription of the version found in O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland (ONeill's 1001). I can see why traditionalists might not like that version. It's kind of hard to say exactly what key or mode it is trying to be in.
  4. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I thoroughly enjoyed that PBS special, thank you Henry!
  5. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Here is our friend, the Chicago cop with a nasty little music habit, Chief O'Neill:

  6. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Very nicely played Louise! That oval hole rings true, love it.
  7. HonketyHank
    hmmm - Louise, I left the following comment on your video yesterday. But I must have not hit the "send" button. Now, on reflection, I heartily agree with myself, so I will be sure to hit the send button this time.

    Very nicely done, Louise. And you got some triplets in there, too. I haven't worked up the courage to try that yet.

    Isn't it nice that Scott has this little "recall unposted content from previous session" feature?
  8. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Excellent work Louise. I suddenly realised it is the last day of the month so I hurriedly banged out this version which is from Dan Mozell's Incomplete Mandolin book
  9. HonketyHank
    Wow, Maudlin, that version has a bunch of those triplets. If there ever was any doubt, that makes it unmistakably a hornpipe. Good job on a difficult setting of the tune.

    I ran out of time this month so my video is straight from the camera. I had some special effects in mind but spent too much time working on them instead of the tune and then didn't get them into the video anyway. Oh well. I blame it on eating too much turkey. I got the Turkey Torpor Blooo-ooooooo-ooos.

  10. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Well done, both of you. Interesting to hear the different versions, with more and less accidentals and ornaments in various places.

    Henry, nice-looking and great-sounding two-point. Have we seen that one before?
  11. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Louise. If you have sharp eyes you may have seen it in the Bonaparte video, hanging on the wall. But it is a recent addition. I am thinking that it may be the final solution for MAS eradication.
  12. HonketyHank
    Yikes! I just discovered that I played the B part three times. While it is definitely a good B part, as B parts go, twice is plenty per go-round.
  13. bbcee
    Well done, you three, sounding very good. And Henry - there is no solution for MAS, because there's always One More.
  14. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    So, Henry, are you going to tell us what it is? I could make an educated guess, but can't quite read the headstock.

    As far as MAS goes, this one may scratch the itch for a two-point with ff-holes, but the F-4 is a gorgeous sound and design, and an F-5 is a classic. Flattops are cool. So are bowlbacks, both Italian and German. Old Gibson or Martin, new Ellis or Apitius. Giacomels are one-of-a-kind. So many mandolins, so little time, money, and storage space.
  15. HonketyHank
    It's a Kimble. It was briefly listed in the MC classifieds in late September. Plays better than I can play it. Sounds a lot better when I don't have the camera-on light shining at me. It's a real dream of a mandolin. Will Kimble even contacted me when the seller told him I had bought it. Just to say hi and establish communications if ever needed.
  16. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Well congratulations—it's beautiful. I'm a sucker for that style of two-point, or the asymmetrical ones like the old L & H or the ones Ellis is making. People rave about Kimbles, and both the sound and the build aesthetics are lovely. Play it in good health.
  17. Spragster
    I didnt forget this month! I just havent recorded anything yet. Wood shop went from studio back to woodshop... ill get to work
    You guys sound fantastic. Love ovals and 2 points!
  18. Spragster

    Welp kinda quick and dirty and my iphones mic seems to fade in and out a bit. The triplets version didnt make the cut...
  19. HonketyHank
    Nice job, there, Spragster. Precise fretting with left hand ==> cleanly picked tone with right hand.

    The iPhone audio effect is kind of strange. Was the battery nearly dead?
  20. Spragster
    The battery was charged ok. Both my ipad and phone seem to act like theres a delay recording. First 5 seconds or so is very low, then it kinda kicks into normal. I haven’t experienced this fade in and out though. Maybe theres some noise canceling stuff that was trying to block the heater (or my pickin!). Next month ill have my mic etc back in action though.
    and thank you for the kind words. I was havin fun trying to play a triplet on thr first note of most measures. That B part gets spin around somehow for me. I should likely just slow down
  21. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Sounds good, Spragster. The chief of police would approve.
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