Untitled reel played by Joe Bane

A brief comment by Peter Laban, 12 August 2002


Another tune from the whistle-playing of East Clare man Joe Bane (a brief introduction to the man was included with an earlier transcription from his playing, that of the jig Shandon Bells).

The tune is of a type of reel highly popular in Clare, simple in structure but very effective (I would think of tunes like The blackberry blossom, Captain Kelly, Murphy's greyhound, Tomeen O Dea's, Ballykett courthouse, The mountain top, etc. as being in the same class of tunes). Allthough the tune sounds familiar enough but I have so far been unable to name it.

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As in Bane's performance of the jig, the playing here is of a deceptive simplicity: there is only a minimal use of ornamentation and variation. The tune depends fully on rhythm and phrasing for its effect. To achieve this Bane uses quite a bit of tongueing to emphasise notes. He plays the tune at his leasure but despite the relatively slow speed (compared to modern standards) it is immediately clear this is music to dance to. I have made no attempts to indicate phrasing or finer detail in the transcription and I don't offer any further analysis. This performance, like the earlier offering of Bane's playing of Shandon Bells, was chosen to illustrate how a skilled traditional musician, using a minimum of tools, can work wonders with a relatively simple tune through a full understanding of structure and rhythm. An understanding that can only be achieved using the ear as a guide to the intricacies of the music.


Please note the transcription was done with an imperfect ear and without slowing-down devices, I have written down what I thought I heard, I can only hope I heard what was actually there.

Peter Laban

Peter Laban