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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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Off She Goes.jpg
Off She Goes

Played by : Christopher Hedge
Source : Soundcloud
Image : Thomas Rowlandson Off She Goes The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Off She Goes

The tune was popular throughout the British Isles and North America. One unnamed source gives that in the days of sail it was a tradition for the fiddle player to sit on the deck of the ship playing "Off She Goes" as the ship departed harbor. In French-Canadian usage the melody is known as "Danse des Sutins (La)" although Gaspésie fiddle Yvon Mimeault (b. 1928) called his version "Gigue du bonhomme (La)" ('my old man's tune') since his it was a favorite of his fiddling father, Odilon.

The author of English Folk-Song and Dance found the melody in the repertoire of fiddler William Tilbury (a resident at Pitch Place, midway between Churt and Thursley in Surrey), who, in his younger days, played the fiddle at village dances. Tilbury learned his repertoire from an uncle, Fiddler Hammond, who died around 1870 and who was the village musician before him.

The conclusion was that "Off She Goes" and similar type country dance tunes survived in English tradition (at least in southwest Surrey) well into the second half of the 19th century. "Off She Goes" is contained in several 19th century English musicians' manuscripts, such as the Joshua Gibbons, John Clare, Joseph Kershaw and the Hardy family manuscripts.

Kershaw was a fiddler who lived in Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, in the 19th century, and his manuscript dates from around 1820 onwards. Clare (1793–1864) was a poet and rural labourer from Helpstone, near Stamford, in the East Midlands.

Gibbons was from Lincolnshire-his setting, originally appearing in the mss. in the key of 'C' major, has a somewhat divergent second part, as does the Kershaw setting. "Off she goes" in H.S.J. Jackson's (Wyresdale, Lancashire) manuscript book of 1823 is a different—but interesting—tune altogether (see [1]).

See also the version in keyboard player Ann Winnington's music manuscript book (No. 16), c. 1810, wherein the frontispiece indicates she resided in New York. The melody was published in England in Thomas Wilson's Companion to the Ball Room (London, 1816) and in America in (Edward) Riley's Flute Melodies (New York, 1814).

"Off She Goes" was included in the large mid-19th century music manuscript collection of Canon James Goodman, County Cork. The late button accordion player Jim Coogan (Newburgh, N.Y.), a fountain of Irish accordion lore, related the following anecdote in a discussion about the relative abilities of musicians to talk and play at the same time, not an easy thing to do for most:

Joe Mills (rip), the original accordion player with the Aughrim Slopes Ceili Band when they started in 1932, used to tell the story about when they were playing on R2N—which radio station later became Radio Erinn and now is RTE—that they were playing a set of jigs and coming up on the turn which was to be "Off she goes" when Paddy Kelly, the fiddler looked over at Joe to find out what tune—Joe got excited and forgot the name and could only shout "feck off"—and they all immediately turned the tune and it went very well—except they forgot they were on live radio...



...more at: Off She Goes - full Score(s) and Annotations


X: 1 T:Off Shew Goyes [1] M:6/8 L:1/8 B:The Calvert Collection (1799) - Page 15 Z: AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D V:1 clef=treble name="1." [V:1] F2A G2B|ABA [F3d3]|F2A G2B|AGF ~E3| F2A G2B|ABA [F2d2]e|f2d g2f|edc [F3d3]|| (f/g/a)f d2f|(e/f/g)e c2e|(f/g/a)f d2f|edc [F3d3]| (f/g/a)f d2f|(e/f/g)e c2e|d2g {f/g/}a2f|gec [F3d3]||

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Who Builds the TTA

Who Builds the TTA

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

Please register as a user to make the most of the many functions of the TTA, and enjoy the many ways that information about traditional tunes can be elicited and combined, from simple to complex situations. Users may make contributions, which, when reviewed by an editor, become part of this community project. Serious user/contributors may become editors through the TTA's autopromotion process, in which quantity and quality of entries allows increased levels of permission to edit and review the entire index.
Above all, the developers wish you joy in the use of the TTA.

Help Getting started

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Navigation: Registered users can navigate the Traditional Tune Archive for information in a number of ways.

  • Search. The Search function is located at the top right, and can be used to search the entire index for any key word. See Search help pages
  • Alphabetically by tune title. Under “The Archive” on the SideBar on the left is “The Index”. Click on it to open up the list of tune titles in the TTA arranged in alphabetical order, 200 titles to a page. At the top of the page is an alphabetical breakdown that serves as a shortcut to pages. Clicking on any title will bring one to the music and tune fields. Once the tune appears, clicking “Tune Discussion” at the bottom of the page (below the notation) will open up the narrative information on the tune.
  • Query the Archive. The “Query the Archive” function under “The Archive” in the sidebar can be used to draw down reports from the TTA in either in single items or in a number of combinations. One might, for example, use a single item query to run a report in the TTA for a particular composer/core source. Clicking on the arrow at the right of the bar draws down a list of composer/core sources, or one may be typed in. For example, clicking on “Bill Pigg” and then the “Run Query” tab at the bottom left will result in a list of all compositions listed in the TTA that the Northumbrian piper either composed or is the core source for. Reports may also be run in combinations, as, for example, by selecting “William Marshall” as a composer/core source, “Three Flats” for the number of accidentals, and “Major” for the Key/Mode. This will result in a report of all Eb Major compositions of Scottish fiddler/composer William Marshall that are indexed in the TTA.
  • Tune Books/Magazines in the TTA can be accessed under “Publications” in the left side bar. These are reproductions of publications for which access has been granted to the TTA by the copyright holder, under the Creative Commons license.