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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Two Jigs I like very much, but they are so close in melody and structure I was wondering if they started out as the same tune once?
My understanding is O'Sullivan's is an old clan March so I would assume this would be the older/original tune?
Anyone have some history on the tunes they would care to share?

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Last edited by PhilD on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:17 pm 
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Funny - I'd never thought of a connection between the two before, but I see what you're getting at. Sometimes it's hard to ascribe a relationship when the tunes are just different enough, and for me, these two are. But this isn't so much a matter of right and wrong, especially when documentation to clear the issue will never be had in the case of old or otherwise unascribed tunes. Sometimes it's just in how you hear things.

Melodically the two tunes seem to broadly have some things in common, but there are crucial differences in the directions those melodies go at certain points when you line them up side by side, so consequently I hear those tunes as harmonically different from each other, and for me that lends additional weight in marking differences that are important for me; for an easy example (presuming we're playing it in G), despite their superficial similarities, the B section of O'Sullivan's March begins fundamentally in the key of C for me, but to me Out On The Ocean's B section starts out in Em. Of course, others may hear it differently, and taking license with what chords you choose to play for the sake of performance is another matter too. Such room for variance allows us to speculate that one melody could have somehow inspired the other, but for me the end results are very divergent despite the melodic similarities they might have, which also raises the rather thin possibility that each could have been composed in isolation. I think it's fair to observe that these two tunes show some degree of familial relationship in their general composition, but that isn't to say that one was necessarily directly inspired by the other. By the same token, maybe they were. But that's lost in the mists of time.

Bear in mind that if you think of a musical tradition as a "language", there will always be recurring elements, combinations, and themes specific to it that make it identifiably what it is, and these things in their similarities are bound to pop up again and again; it's in how you combine them that the differences are made. Just don't get the two mixed up if you play one after the other. On the other hand, maybe it won't matter if you do - you know the old joke: Irish music is all just the same tune. :wink:

What I think is good is that you're actually listening to and weighing these things, whatever you determine of them. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:49 pm 
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Sullivan's march is the vehicle for the song, Sweeping Cobwebs out of the Sky which is in turn a version of the Old Woman tossed up in a Blanket. I have a recording of Séamus Ennis singing it, somewhere. it doesn't seem to have a long established pedigree in print. Off the top of my head I can think of three or four relatively distinct versions of it in circulation.

Out on the Ocean is supposedly derived from a Scottish tune, an Irish version of it was collected by George Petrie. Which gives it an earlier traceable history.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:55 pm 
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Thanks for that, Mr.Gumby. Now we have at least something to hang our hat on. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:14 pm 
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I don't know about that, just some bits of trivia I suppose. FWIW.

I do get confused by the other tune called O'Sullivan the great, or 'I won't be a nun' as some would have it (after a song married to the tune). How does that fit into this triangle?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:28 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I do get confused by the other tune called O'Sullivan the great, or 'I won't be a nun' as some would have it (after a song married to the tune).

Yeah, it'd be easy enough to get lost after the B section if my mind was off wandering. Great tune, BTW. Tommykleen's been known to trot that one out now and again.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
How does that fit into this triangle?

Uhh...O'Sullivan marched up to the lass that wasn't going to be a nun (and who thought he was great), and they went "out on the ocean"?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:07 pm 
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Okay that's interesting that Out on the Ocean has an older paper trail. I guess another possibility for old tunes that are similar is that they got twisted in transmission, or misremembered the morning after the night before.

O'Sullivan the Great is good tune too.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:33 am 
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Looking at the Fiddler's companion, as I just have, you can go back a bit further maybe when looking at Painneach Na nUbh (The Basket of Eggs) and Montrose's March which will link you to early 17th century Scotland.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:08 am 
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Montrose's March or Rock and a Wee Pickle Tow seems to be a favorite of the pipe and drum brigade I have now discovered. An online source has this tune in a collection published in 1678, as you indicated Peter.


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