2019-12 Tune of the Month King of the Fairies

  1. HonketyHank
    The Newbies Tune of the Month for December 2019 is "King of the Fairies" or "King of the Faeries". You know, the little people hiding behind stumps and mushrooms in an Irish forest. The Song of the Week social group's thread on this tune is found here: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...cussionid=1378 . The videos in that thread give a good idea of how the tune goes. I tried to find the videos that have broken links on that thread but they all appear to be unavailable.

    ABC's from setting #1, https://thesession.org/tunes/475 :
    X: 1
    T: King Of The Fairies
    R: hornpipe
    M: 4/4
    L: 1/8
    K: Edor
    |EDEF GFGA|BAGB d3c|B2E2 GFE_E|E6 :|
    |:d2|e2e2 Bdef|gagf e3f|e2B2 BABc|dedc BcdB|
    |e2B2 Bdef|gagf efed|Bdeg fedf|e6 ef|
    |g3e f3d|edBc d3e|dBAF GABc|dBAF GFED|
    |B,2E2 EFGA|B2e2 edef|e2B2 BAGF|E6:|

    Here are nine settings from the woodenflute.com's database: http://tunedb.woodenflute.com/tunedb...m=Submit+Query, all quite playable on the mandolin if you ignore any flute-y embellishments.

    See also the Fiddlers' Fakebook.

    There is a version at mandozine.com: http://www.mandozine.com/music/table...es-Em-Trad.tef .

    Baron Collins-Hill lesson: https://www.mandolessons.com/lessons...ing-of-fairies

    The tune appears to be derived from an older Jacobite tune called "Bonny Charlie" from the 18th century. The tune appeared in Ireland in the 19th century as King of the Fairies, but one version was found under the title "Your Old Wig Is The Love of My Heart." I am not sure I want to know what that actually means.

    This tune is listed in various collections as a hornpipe, a reel, a march, a polka, a set dance, and a hornpipe set dance (and maybe more). I lean toward the set dance designation as the B section is twice as long as the A section. As a set dance tune, it would be played AAB. If it were to be played as accompaniment for actual dancers, it would be played AAAB - the first A part played with no dancing so as to establish the tempo for the dancers. As a set dance, it would be a fairly slow tempo, often with a hornpipe swing, but it can be heard being played as a fast hornpipe by some old time fiddle players here in the US. And I can certainly imagine it being played by bagpipes as a Scottish march. Sometimes it is performed at a slow tempo on the first run-through, then much faster on a second "show-offy" run-through. Then maybe even faster. I saw one video that took it to a fourth level. The fiddler pretty much wore out his bow.

    The melodic construction of the tune is also subject to variations. I found it to be most often listed as being in E Dorian or E minor. In fact, I prefer the A part in E minor and the B part in E Dorian. Some versions include additional accidentals that reinforce a "minor-y" feeling of the tune. Sometimes it is listed as "E Aeolian" -- that is just a snooty way to say "E minor".

    Here it is as a traditional set dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgZj5MIO1nQ

    Here is the video I liked best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqeDRst35mg

    I wish I could play fiddle when I see and hear videos like that. I have a cheap fiddle. Tried to play it a few times. Bah. I'm sticking to the mandolin. Easier.
  2. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    This arrangement is from Dan Mozell's book "The Incomplete Celtic Mandolin" and is in the key of Dm which is mandola friendly as you don't have to go above the fifth fret.
    However there are a lot of triplets and three sections so it took a lot of practice to play it without mistakes.
  3. Chaya
    Wow mm that was great. Xcuse typing had hand surgery. Wanted to say tho how much i liked that.
  4. HonketyHank
    mm, I like that setting, especially the B part. Your triplets are sounding good.

    I have been thinking about a mandolin / mandola duet for this but it is difficult to find an "easy" key for both at the same time. I think I'll end up in Em and suffer through or play around the "sixth fret blues" in the mandola part. Or maybe my fingers will grow between now and the end of the month.

    Chaya, I hope the hand surgery is healing up rapidly!
  5. Chaya
    Thanx hank. i expect tp practice soon.
  6. Louise NM
    Louise NM

    Here's kind of a hack job on the Fairy King. I had a few minutes to try to record him today, but he just kept flitting away, beyond the reach of my fingers.
  7. HonketyHank
    Very nice, Louise. While listening, I was struck by how smooth and confident your picking has become.

    This guy keeps flitting around my head as I work on the tune.
  8. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Henry, you might need to do something about that!

    One problem I had with the fairy king was that it challenged my belief that all fairies are female. (Corollary: all elves are male.)
  9. HonketyHank
    I spent much too much time playing with the video software and far too little time trying to learn to play the tune. But it was fun. I ended up with two versions with the same soundtrack. One is primarily a view of the four instrumental tracks being made, in case you want to watch my fingers. There are a few fairies thrown in, as well.
    quartet view: https://youtu.be/XaPiQw_YZGo

    The other version is the soundtrack of the the first video but set to a deep glade in Ireland with lots of fairies, etc, and dancing around.
    scenic view: https://youtu.be/7J2f9EoCM74

    I would recommend watching either or both at full screen, which you can do if you click on "YouTube" in the lower right corner of the embedded video or by just clicking on the video link above the embed frame.

    Here is the Description text that I put with each of the two videos on my YouTube channel:

    This is the December 2019 tune of the month for the Mandolin Cafe Newbies. I spent more time this month playing around with the video-making software than I did learning the tune. So the tune itself is pretty ragged. But I sure had fun making the video. In fact I have two versions (with the same sound track). One is just scenery and fairies and finally, Finvarra, king of the Irish fairies. The other omits most of the video effects and just shows the four instruments being played: mezzo-tenor guitar (tuned ADGC), mandola 1 (tuned CGDA), mandola 2 (tuned BGDA), and mandolin (tuned GDAE).

    Mandola 2 fills an important gap. The mandola solo is voiced an octave below the mandolin. Unfortunately the lowest note in the tune is a B, which is unplayable on a normally tuned mandola. Thus Mandola 2 is tuned with its lowest string dropped a half step to B and whenever this low B note is needed in the mandola solo, it is played by Mandola 2. Mandola 2 was pretty upset at the lack of real music, so we also let him play along with the mezzo-tenor guitar in the introduction.

    The tenor guitar part was also problematic. The scale length of this tenor guitar is 24" and the tune requires use of six frets in the open position if tuned as a standard classical tenor. That is too much of a stretch for me - I just couldn't reach those last few frets without shifting my hand position back and forth throughout the tune. Tenor guitars are sometimes also tuned like the high four strings of a standard guitar, but that tuning was not low enough for the tune. So I restrung my tenor with the middle four strings of a standard guitar. That was quite workable, but I found it a little easier to play the tune if I raised the high B string to a C. Since the resulting range is lower than most tenor guitars, I am calling it a mezzo-tenor guitar. Technically speaking, it is tuned in straight fourths, rooted on A.

    Happy New Year to all Newbies!
  10. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice work, Henry, both musically and from a visual standpoint. You did the arrangement?

    As for your second mandolinist and his few notes, he gets the same paycheck for the gig as the other three guys. He's getting paid way more per note.
  11. HonketyHank
    Thank you, Louise. I don't think I should call it an "arrangement" but I did figure out the backup double stops on the mezzo-tg and twiddled with the melody line a bit. Nonetheless, YouTube tagged one of the two versions immediately with a copyright violation. I filed my dispute, but no big deal one way or the other.
Results 1 to 11 of 11