Home brew played by Micho Russell

From a private tape, recorded 13 December 1986

Comments and transcription by Peter Laban, 4 September 2002

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Another transcription here from the playing of Micho Russell. A hornpipe this time. It is the second tune in the set of hornpipes you'll find in the sound clip: the tune starts 1 minute 53 seconds into the recording.

The tune

I heard Micho play this tune on numerous occasions and I am sure it is included in his commercial recordings, I am not sure which one though. Micho gives the tune the name of The home brew. "A homebrew is like the tea, something brewed at home." I believe he made that up on the spot, I have never seen it called that. I also suspect somewhere along the line Micho misheard the tunetitle The home ruler which is a common hornpipe though a different one. In my ears the tune echos various other hornpipes such as The plains of Boyle, The Leitrim fancy and Staten Island. Whatever the way, it bears all the hallmarks of a Micho Russell tune: wherever he got it he very much made it his own.

A brief comment

In Bar 1 we see a figure of DEED which is a compression of the figure DEFD (which Micho in fact uses in the repeat of the first part, not included in the transcription), an effective device found a lot in Clare music. Similar movements occur in Bars 5 and 11.

Bar 2 sees two long notes a and a distinctive c natural. Micho imitates the sliding effect a piper may use to colour these notes. He uses however an increase of his blowing to stretch the notes upward a bit, rather than using his fingers to slide into the note.

The high g in Bar three is one of these unexpected notes that crop up so often in Micho's playing and in fact make his music stand out so much, one would expect an f maybe. A similar situation occurs in bar 6 where a more standard player might use AGAB leading into the c natural. Not Micho: he raises the AB to ed approaching the c from above. One can wonder, are we hearing echos of harmonies Micho heard in the concertina playing of his mother or that of his neighbour Patrick Flanagan of Doonagore?

The rest of the tune sees a number of figures or movements that have been discussed in the comments on other tunes - the ornamentation of the high d, the extremely effective use of short notes followed by distinct silences, inversions of part of the melody - that were the stock-in-trade of Micho's playing.

Peter Laban, 4 September 2002