2021-05 Tune of the Month - Farewell to Whisky

  1. HonketyHank
    It is May Day, 2021, and time for a new tune; Niel Gow's "Farewell to Whisky" is next up on the Song A Week list. Their thread for "Farewell to Whisky" is here: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/gr...#gmessage18147 , at which you can hear some fine renditions of the tune. You can also find various settings of the tune at www.thsession.org .

    Niel Gow was a well known fiddler throughout Scotland in the late 18th century. He was supported by wealthy patrons in exchange for lessons, entertainment, and dance music. He composed a long list of tunes, most of which survive today and are often heard in performances of Scottish music and even as background in films set in Scotland. He is probably revered as highly in Scotland as O'Carolan is in Ireland.

    Gow allegedly composed the tune in response to hearing of a ban placed on the production of whisky in 1799. The Scottish barley crop was extremely poor that year and whisky was deemed to be a wasteful use of what little barley was available.

    You can hear it played both ways in the SAW group's thread and in various renditions on YouTube and commercial recordings.

    Here is a truly Scottish rendition of the tune, played on one of Niel Gow's fiddles:

    A funny thing happened to this tune when it crossed from Scotland over to Ireland. The slow Scottish air or lament became a polka. Here is the bouncy Irish polka version (followed by Soldiers' Joy), played in a pub setting:

    I think we will have fun with this one. It seems to be wide open for interpretation, in phrasing as well as tempo and ornamentation.

    ps: Some folks spell whisky with an e preceding the y, "whiskey". As a matter of fact, that is the way I spell it. But the Scots Language Centre (www.scotslanguage.com/articles/node/id/465) has it with no e before the y in the title of this tune. Something to do with Scottish vs Irish vs American vs English. I assume Niel Gow spelled it that way. It is important to some people.
  2. NDO
    I’m gonna do it this month
    I’ve sounded out most of the notes now and it seems pretty friendly so far. And who could say no to a song about whisky!

    Btw, it’s generally whisky if it was made in Scotland, Canada, or Japan... generally whiskey if made in Ireland, America, or other countries with an “e” in the name

    Since Gow was Scots I’m sticking with whisky on this one.
  3. NDO
    I’m actually super excited on this one for some reason. (Must be the whisky.) I’ve pretty well got it memorized now and just need some practicing on tone and tempo and ornamentation.
  4. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Wow, and it's only the 2nd. I'm still working on April's tune
  5. HonketyHank
    I am pretty sure this is a transcription directly from Gow's first publication of this tune.

    Here is an abc of the above:
    T:Farewell to Whisky [1]
    S:Gow - First Collection Strathspey Reels (1784)
    Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
    D|B,2 T(B/A/B/).d/ cG ~G>B|B,>B {d}(c/B/c/).d/ fd~d>f|g(a/b/) (g/f/)(e/d/) (e/d/)(c/B/) (c.d)|
    B,>B (d/c/).B/.c/ dBB:|g|{g}f>d {d}b>d (e/d/)c/B/ ~cd|fdb>d f(bb>)f|
    (g>b) {g}f>d (e/d/)(c/B/) (cd)|B,>B (e/d/).B/.c/ dBTB>g|{g}f>d {d}b>d (e/d/)(c/B/) (cd)|
    fdb>d f(bb>)f|(gb) ~d>f (e/d/)(c/B/) (cd)|B,>B (d/c/).B/.c/ {Bc}dBB||
  6. NDO
    Well Sue, I skipped April and felt guilty
  7. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Henry, that looks hard
  8. HonketyHank
    You can finesse the ornamentation or even just ignore it. And slow, means really slow. Those sixteenth notes are all bark and no bite.

    The interesting thing is that the tune was composed in 1799 but this says it was in his "First Collection", published in 1784. How'd he do that? I presume it showed up in the second edition.
  9. HonketyHank
    Actually, I am kind of interested in using a Bb version similar to the original. I could use FFcP and play it in first position using my middle finger on the G string as the root note. That would be another of Ted Eschlimann's four basic scale patterns. That ought to be good for something.
  10. NDO
    That’s way too intimidating! I just tuned into a couple of the versions on the song of the week link you posted and will copy it and maybe try a few harp licks with it
  11. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Okay, I'm not sure what I'm going to try (because I'm still working on April's tune ) but I would like to know, in the version Henry posted above, what are the three symbols above the staff in the first measure after the pickup note?
  12. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Sue, the tr. means "trill," a rapid alternation between the written note and the one above. Not a great technique on the mandolin. The dot above a note signifies it is to be played staccato, short and crisp. The wavy line over the G is, depending on the era, a mordent, a turn, an appoggiatura, an accacciatura, or if you mess it up, an apologiatura. It's a little ornament: AGF#G, or F#GAG, or GAG or GF#G before the note, either on or just before the beat. (I know people who can spend half the morning debating the finer points of these ornaments. "Yes, this piece is French, but it was written in the Italian style.")

    The turn would be particularly important on a bagpipe. You can't start and stop the sound. In the first measure, the note with the squiggle is the same pitch as the note before, so the little ornament marks the rhythm. All these markings are much simpler to play on a wind or bowed instrument than on a mandolin.
  13. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    So I will plan to ignore them, then

    (Thanks, Louise, though, for the info )
  14. NDO
    Of course I discovered that the version I memorized doesn’t quite match the original score. Dang it! Now I need to decide whether to relearn the parts that are different or just stick with this variation.
  15. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Excellent plan, Sue!

    The placement of the ornaments might be a guide to where to put a hammer-on, pull-off, or something else mandolin-like if you want to tart it up a little.
  16. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    "Variety is the Spice of Life", Don.

    Louise, my bag of "mandolin-like" tricks is not too full, but we shall see
  17. phb256

    This still needs work, but it's getting there. I put it together with Give the Fiddler a Dram because is seemed appropriate. Costume design by Edvard Munch.
  18. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Love it, sounds great!
  19. NDO
    Way to go phb! First one to post
    Is that an OM or a mandola? I am new to this family of instruments.
  20. HonketyHank
    Man o man, that thing (mandocello) does go LOW. First this month and lowest of the bunch, so far anyway. I am half expecting one of us to show up with one of those Mando-basses next.

    Nicely done, phb, and a good choice with Give the Fiddler a Dram. I hadn't heard that tune since the 1960's (by the Holy Modal Rounders - Peter Stampfel and that other guy whose name I don't remember). It's a good one.
  21. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Nice work, phb! Love that mellow tone.
  22. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    phb, you are tuned in GCDA, correct? Did you transpose the tune yourself or did you find a version to play? I was thinking of trying this on my mandola, but wasn't sure how to approach it.
  23. phb256
    NDO - As Hank said, it's a mandocello. It's a fourth lower than an OM, or an octave down from a mandola.
    Sue - It's in the standard tuning. I used a version from The Session https://thesession.org/tunes/1529. I also found Give the Fiddler a Dram there https://thesession.org/tunes/7783. I'd been working on that for a while since I saw it on the Song-A-Week thread.
    Hank - Thanks for for pointing out the Holy Modal Rounders version. I hadn't heard that tune anywhere except the other thread.
  24. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Sounds good phb. You get around that long neck easily!
  25. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    Great stuff Pbh you really are mastering the mandocello.
    Sue - if you want to play music written in the treble clef on mandola you have to play an octave below. Presumably Pbh is doing this but two octaves below.
    The catch is that you can not play lower than middle c like this so low g a and b are exactly like on mandolin.
    My arrangement is by Georgia Nettleton and loses a bit to this problem as it was written for mandolins.
  26. Spragster

    Thought Id pop this in here, really a sweet song. Its in G, I was reading from the 2nd setting on the session. I will give that b flat version a whack probably if i get a rhythm down I like.

    Loving seeing the various MSOs and hearing what you folks put out here
  27. HonketyHank
    Nice arrangement, mm. And nicely done.

    At the first glance at that landscape, memories of my caving and climbing days in SW Virginia came blasting forward. What nice limestone! The picture made me wonder where it was. The stone fences suggested an area that was actively tended for much longer than in North America. My first guess was Scotland even though I didn't think there was much limestone there. Maybe south in the Cotswalds? So I Googled "limestone Great Britain". Lo and behold, I think I found it - Malham Cove. A bit NW of Leeds. Certainly not the Cotswalds, but who cares - that view makes me want to strap into some rappelling gear. I'd probably kill myself though, so I'll just look and "remember when". Thanks for generating those memories.
  28. HonketyHank
    I like that Spragster. I am working on a similar arrangement. And I don't think it will be in Bb - my excuse is that, as a lament, I think it sounds better with open strings. That plus my poor pinkie is getting pretty cranky.
  29. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    Henry - I am amazed that someone has identified my holiday snap. You are right it is Malham Cove, a limestone feature in the Yorkshire Dales much utilised by rock climbers. Went there on holiday when our lockdown eased in mid April.
    Spragster - well played; nice arrangement.
  30. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice, Spragster and Maudlin. It's really fun to hear this tune on all these different instruments and in all the differing arrangements.
  31. Spragster

    Ok round 2, slightly more polished and i fooled around with some mixing software. Sounds a lot cleaner than outside in the yard...
  32. HonketyHank
    Yes, I think better, Spragster. I can hear it more clearly. Sounds nice.
  33. NDO
    I had a chance to have a whisky while I was at my place in Montana last week. This is on the Eastman since I didnít want to risk taking the new mando out to the cabin.
    I think the scenery makes up for my playing

  34. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Nice playing, everyone.
  35. HonketyHank
    That is nice, NDO. Clean notes and steady rhythm.
  36. HonketyHank
    Wow. This one surprised me. I thought it would be really easy because I decided to do it very slow -- as a lament and farewell. I had a lot of fun early in the month as I experimented with the drones and phrasing. Then I worked on playing it from memory. I think the slow tempo made it more difficult, not easier. First of all, any little mistake really sticks out. Secondly, there is too much time between notes and my brain just could not let that time go without thinking about what I was doing. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating - when you are thinking, you are stinking. That's the way it is with me anyway.

    This follows the original published score except that I have transposed it into G so I could use the low G string as a drone. I added the drones and double stops. Finally, I have taken a lot of liberty with the rhythm.


  37. NDO
    I love the video Hank! The whisky looks delicious and the bear is a great finish. How do you manage the camera work while playing?
    The double stops are a great addition, I need to learn more.
  38. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice work, everyone.
  39. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Don. The camera work is easy - there is none. Click the start button, then click the stop button. Everything else is done with video editing software. I use Cyberlink PowerDirector, which is kind of like using a pile driver to drive a thumbtack. My first experience making a video was for the tune of the month way back when. I used Windows Movie Maker. I don't know if it is still available, but it was pretty good. Then I got hooked and got PowerDirector. It's fun but it can eat up a lot of time.
  40. HonketyHank
    Thanks, Louise.
  41. beth102
    I play a version of this tune, from tablature....fiddle tune that I somewhat memorized...pretty much at home in my living room LOL Not ready to record myself.
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