2019-10 Tune of the Month - Rocky Road to Dublin

  1. HonketyHank
    The Tune of the Month for October, 2019, is Rocky Road to Dublin. The videos submitted back when it was the Song A Week can be found in [this thread]. I don't know that I have ever heard the tune before. I don't have any of those little buzzers going off in my head saying "That tune really sounds familiar but I can't come up with a name." So this makes it a completely new tune for me. There are several settings of the tune at https://thesession.org/tunes/593, primary differences being in the key signature or ornamentation. The commenters at there trace the tune back at least to the late 17th century with lyrics being added perhaps 100 years later.

    There is an old time North American fiddle tune with the same title. It is a great tune but if it is related to the Celtic tune, the relationship is pretty remote.

    The tune sounds a bit quirky despite its repetitive nature. Everybody at https://thesession.org/tunes/593 seems to agree that it is a slip jig (9/8 time signature), but there are comments like "it's a devil to dance to", or "it is more of a 3/2 hornpipe than a slip jig". I don't dance and I wouldn't know a 3/2 hornpipe if it bit me on the ankle (much less a slip jig), so all I can say is that I am having trouble getting the notes I see on paper to sound anything like what I hear in the videos.

    Here are three of the many videos I found on YouTube:

    First is Marla Fibish, a wonderful teacher and player of Celtic music on the mandolin, playing the more or less standard Celtic version as the first half of a two-tune set.


    Next is a hard driving version of the North American fiddle tune by Chance McCoy and the Appalachian String Band. I think I can hear some faint echoes of the Celtic version, but the main similarity is in the driving beat. Sorry, I couldn't find a mandolin version of this, but the guy playing banjo is one of my favorites - Adam Hurt.


    Finally a great Irish pub band (Whiskey Ur De Devil) with the help of several pints of Guiness (each) does their version with lyrics. The guitar backup, I think, really demonstrates how the rhythm works - listen for the vocalist when he sings 1-2-3-4-5 and fits that into one measure. Apparently, that is the secret of a slip jig. Be sure to watch it all the way to the end to see how one lass dances it.


    The Song A Week thread has an ABC text from https://thesession.org/tunes/593 that fits the Celtic version of tune nicely. There are lots of YouTube videos of the tune. After listening to many of them I am thinking that the key to this is that the rhythm is the most important element.
  2. bbcee
    Gol darn it, Henry, just when I thought I could take a pass this month, not feeling so close to tricky slip jigs, you go ahead & post that Appalachian version! I agree that Adam Hurt is the business - his playing on this one is especially impeccable.
  3. HonketyHank
    I am beginning to wonder if the Appalachian version of Rocky Road to Dublin is better known as Rocky Road to Jordan.
  4. bbcee
    IMHO, they're different tunes. Here's a link to a version of RRJ - the melodic structure seems distinct from the Chance McCoy version of RRD posted above:

  5. HonketyHank
    I am finding the rhythm and phrasing difficult to get a hold of. It seems to help if I can refer to the words of the tune. Here is a screenshot from www.thesession.org of one verse:
  6. HonketyHank
    By the way, I just looked up Rocky Road to Dublin in ibiblio's fiddlers' companion. It lists eight distinctly different tunes with this name, but the Celtic version above is the only one that they notate out (in ABC format). The other seven are North American tunes, primarily reels and breakdowns.

    There is only one version of Rocky Road to Jordan listed and it does not mention any relationship to Rocky Road to Dublin.

    So it looks to me like, over here on this side of the ocean, Rocky Road to Dublin is a great title in search of a tune.
  7. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin

    This is the first version from the Session - please ignore a slight stumble the second time through.
    The notation shows a squiggly tilde sign above each of the dotted crotchets; which indicates you are supposed to ornament the tune by playing a turn or roll consisting of four notes. However I found it quite difficult enough to play as it was so I just ignored them.
    I like slipjigs as opposed to ordinary double jigs as the longer bars allow more varied rhythms.
  8. HonketyHank
    Good job MM. You make it look easy. I don't know why I am having trouble with the phrasing after hearing you.
  9. bbcee
    +1 MM - very nicely done!

    Here's my non- slip jig version, based on the above Chance McCoy video, but played sloooow. Me on mandolin, u-bass & tenor guitar, Garageband on drums and percussion. Photos from my time living in Dublin, 2012-2014.

  10. bbcee
    And like a knucklehead, I didn't thank @HonketyHank for his critique & input. Much appreciated!!
  11. HonketyHank
    Sounds good, bbcee.
  12. HonketyHank
    Well, here goes. My first take on camera was a little rough, but I put it in the can anyway ...


    Editted to clean up the intro image pause.

    Now I need to go get ready for all the little ghoulies and ghosties.

    Halloween, 2019
  13. bbcee
    Sounds really good, Henry. Nice steady rhythm, played at a good tempo. And that you thought to match your shirt to the mando!
  14. HonketyHank
    Thanks bbcee. I shortened the pause on the intro image. ONE-two-THREE-four-FIIIIVE !.
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