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    The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
 traditional instrumental music with annotations, formerly known as
                          The Fiddler's Companion.
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Larry O'Gaff was a brave boy for marching,
His instep was larege--but his income was small;
So he set up, one day, as a soldier of fortune--
The meaning of which is--no fortune at all.
Larry O'Gaff

Played by: Fionnlagh Ballantine
Source: Soundcloud
Image: Samuel Lover (24 February 1797 – 6 July 1868), also known as "Ben Trovato"

Larry O'Gaff

The "Larry O'Gaff" title for the tune comes from a nonsensical stage-Irish song whose words are only rarely reported (they can be found in a folk version in Creighton's Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia), and it appears the melody normally was used as an instrumental piece. The tune/song is firmly ensconced in the late minstrel/early vaudeville stage.

It is usually associated with Northeastern players in the United States. The older title was probably "Hob or Nob" posits Bayard (1981), which was the title of an old British dance.

However, as far back as 1840 it was entered into the music manuscript book of Cumbrian musician John Rook as "Larry O'Gaff is the boy" a title that seems associated with Samuel Lover's (1797–1868) comic piece called "Larry O'Gaff", which begins:

Larry O'Gaff was a brave boy for marching,
His instep was larege--but his income was small;
So he set up, one day, as a soldier of fortune--
The meaning of which is--no fortune at all.
In battles, bombardments and sieges he grew up,
Till he didn't much care if towns flourish'd or blew up,
And his maxims in life--for he pick'd one or two up--
Were short, sweet and simple for Larry O'Gaff.

Bronner (1987) suggests a connection with "Campbells are Coming (1) (The)" and "Miss McLeod's Reel (1)," which his source (central N.Y. fiddler Les Weir) also called "Hob or Knob".

...more at: Larry O'Gaff - full Score(s) and Annotations

X:0 T:Larry O’Gaff [1] is the Boy M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:John Rook music manuscript collection (Waverton, Cumbria, 1840, p. 217) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Dmix V:1 clef=treble name="0." [V:1] (3A/B/c/|DDD FDD|ABA AFD|GBG FAF|EFE GAB| dDD FDD|ABA AFD|GBG FAF|EDE D2:| |:A|ABc dcd|efe ecA|Gce efg|fdd d2e| fdd ecc|dcB AGF|GBG FAF|EDE D2:|]

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Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.
This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.
Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

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