Tunes are my favourite souvenirs! (Cups and stolen glasses coming in a close second!)
Souvenir tunes are usually handy little things - easy to remember, perfect for travelling.
Names to the tunes don't travel quite as well...
We play a little tune that I got from Pat Simmonds on a lovely evening in Toronto's cosy McCarthy's Bar. (The last McCarthy's Bar that Pete McCarthy visited. He's the author of "McCarthy's Bar" :) which made MacCarthy's Bar in Castletownbere famous. Still a great pub but nowadays Tripadvisor warns you that - although they offer gluten-free food - they don't use a fresh knife after cutting the bad gluten-stuff! Googling Toronto's McCarthy's just now revealed that it - sadly - no longer exists!)
I brought the wee tune back as "the thing that I saw is gone". A quick search on the Internet revealed that it should be "Any's the thing I saw" or "S'iomadh Rud A Chunnaic Mi" (which might translate as "the thing that I saw is gone" for all I know).
I also heard a german song that night (sung by an english visitor who does not speak german and had no idea what he was singing about) called: Tante Erna liegt im Bett und isst Tomaten! (Googling THAT revealed that it should have been Tante Paula....)
Another little souvenir tune is called "San Francisco Slide" in Dresden. Its name nearly everywhere else (including San Francisco) is "hundred pipers". Except for West Cork, where they sing amusing words to the melody and call it "the hair fell of me coconut".
Another tune that not only lost its name but also (I suspect) lots of its notes is one we learned in Berlin. They got it from someone who got it from someone who learned it in the Netherlands. At a private session in the kitchen of - now famed - Sonja. Sonja's kitchen reel. It's fun to play in a large Session but it sounds as if something got lost on the way. The "tune" actually.... It is only scales in one part and arpeggios in the second.... Well, travelling all over the place allows for chance meetings... I'm pretty sure I heard the original tune at a session in Chicago. I recorded it and made a mental note to learn it one day.... unfortunately I lost the recording.
So tunes lose names and bits and pieces while travelling... Some change key. What I learned in A in Shetland was played in G in West Cork. I thought that was only done by fiddlers - who have no respect for nice flute tunes in G or lovely Uilleann pipes tunes in D and change them to unplayable A... well... seems to go both ways...
My all time favourite set of tunes is far travelled, too. Originaly from Fermanagh they made their way to San Francisco to a friend who later came for a visit to Dresden and gave them to me. They where given from flute to banjo and back to flute. Banjo trying to do what the flute did and me trying to do what the banjo did ... might go on like this for a while - hope they are still travelling. Nice to think that they are in good hands :)
They are not impressive tunes - being a visitor at other sessions I sometimes get asked to play my "favourite tunes". No jaws drop when I launch into the Fermanagh barndances - they are just beautiful little tunes that make me smile every time!
|Kenny, me and the barndances (just after he gave them to me) on a visit in Potsdam|
(Thinking about how many "realities" there are - one around each person - each with their own "real" people - and the same people being "real" here but "extras" there sets my mind spinning.... it's like parallel universes and time travel and stuff...)
Anyhow... sometimes a cracking little tune sets out to travel and a little later the composer adds more parts to it - which then have a hard time to catch up with the first ones! So happened with Gordon Duncan's lovely High Drive. Parts three and four made it as far as Orkney but didn't reach Shetland (yet). I think the first two parts make a lovely tune. The other two are just showing off! But all four parts were already here when I came back... as if it wasn't hard enough to learn the first two! I think I am on this recording giving them a go...at a great new session in Leipzig (Morrison's)...I don't recognise myself on tin whistle... I might be playing the out of tune one....
Other tunes traveled and got forgotten back home. Garry Walsh - born in England to irish imigrant parents (or grandparents?) made a CD with tunes that his family played and that seemed forgotten in West Cork where they originated. My favourite of these is "Back to Skibbereen" - which I took back with me to Skibbereen last year :)
Brown Eyes - the german waltz I got given last year - might be one of those. It was learned by a Shetlander in Bremerhaven in 1927 and might have been forgotten here.... I have yet to find someone who knows it around here but I like to think that my granddad knew it. He set off to Bremerhaven in 1925 to work on the great ocean liners of the time for a decade or so and he always took his Accordeon. (Probably to prevent sea sickness!) The tune is mine now - and it might have been his.
To finish this off: John Spillane and Christy Moore singing about another great pub that no longer exists - the Lobby Bar in Cork. Magic nights... I like the thought that you can go back any time...