Battering Ram (1) (The)

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X:1 % T:Battering Ram [1], The R:jig M:6/8 L:1/8 Z:Jeff Myers N:Based on the playing of Billy McComiskey N:Lesl Harker says it is nearly identical to Mike Rafferty's setting K:D B|dBG BAG|dBG G2B|dBG AGE|GED D2 B| dBG BAG|B/c/dB BAG|AGA BAB|GED D2:| B|deg aga|bge edB|deg aga|bge e/f/ga| bag age|ged e/f/ge|dBG AGE|GED D2:| d|B2G A2G|B2D D2d|BAG AGE|GED D2d| B2G A2G|B/c/dB BAG|AGA BAB|GED D2:|



BATTERING RAM [1], THE. AKA and see "Mary O'Hara (1)." Irish, Double Jig (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABC (Flaherty): AABBCC (most versions): ABCD (Miller). Doolin, north County Clare, tin whistle player Micho Russell saw the melody as a programmatic piece which reminded him of the battering ram which the English used to evict poor people in Ireland in the 19th century. Each succeeding part represented the increasing force of the ram as it demolished the house. Ciaran Carson, in his book Last Night's Fun (1996) describes flute player Seamus Tansey's rendition of the melody:

He soars into 'The Battering Ram'—not the standard version, but the one he got from Jim Donoghue, the great Sligo tin-whistle-player who perversely played a 'C' whistle ('D' is standard) out of the side of his mouth, and produced a great strong flute-like tone full of wood and embouchure and breath, jumping octaves; and he put a funny twist into this jig; reversing it and generally standing phrases on their heads. Tansy imputes many of his stylistic traits to Donoghue, and this tune is a tribute, an hommage, a dedication, Tansey playing it beautifully as he can because he loves the playing of Jim Donoghue, and he is beholden to him. (pp. 60-61)

Much further a-field (and admittedly irrelevant to the tune), 'Battering' has another meaning in the context of Irish music and dance, however, signifying the production of rhythm to the beat of the music. John Kerr (Irtrad 3/03) explains:

"Battering", in relation to dancing of Irish country sets (e.g. Caledonian, Lancers, etc.), is the pounding out of rhythm with the feet that is done by the dancers as they execute the figures of the set. Traditionally, battering was typically done by the male dancers, and often in the old house dancing days a flagstone was specially placed with no earth underneath it in front of the fireplace so as to better pick up the rhythms pounded out by the dancer at the top of the set. I have seen demonstrations of older dancers in Clare dancing sets and battering in the traditional style, and it's a truly beautiful thing. Even without the music, you could hear the rhythms of the tune being played, be it a reel, jig or hornpipe, and almost be able to ascertain what tune it was by name.

Nowadays, in "modern" set dancing, everybody batters, and the sky's the limit. There's no subtlety at all, no nuance, no art or music to it whatsoever. To gain a sense of it, think of the finest, most artful bodhran playing you have ever heard. Then think of a room full of bodhran players pounding away at will, as loud as they can. The gulf between what battering once was and what it has now been reduced to is a thousand times greater than that.

See "Mary O'Hara (1)" for historical versions (mid-19th century), a version perhaps used as an air as well as a jig.

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - 'Clarke's whistle' {i.e. a conical whistle} player Jim Donoghue, 1910–1990 (Drimacoo, Monasteraden, Co. Sligo, Ireland) [Flaherty]; the Tulla Ceili Band [Mulvihill]; sessions in the Regent Hotel, Leeds, England [Bulmer & Sharpley]; the 1968 Topic recording of Lucy Farr (1911-2003, Co. Galway), Jimmy Power (1918-1985, Co. Waterford) & Andy O'Boyle (Co. Mayo) [Miller & Perron]; New Jersey flute player Mike Rafferty, born in Ballinakill, Co. Galway, in 1926 [Harker]; from a recording of Sean Ryan [O'Malley].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 36. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland, vol. 1), 1974; No. 54. Flaherty (Trip to Sligo), 1990; p. 178. Harker (300 Tunes from Mike Rafferty), 2005; No. 227, p. 70. Mallinson (Essential), 1995; No. 95, p. 41. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 1977; vol. 1, No. 32. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 2nd Edition, 2006; p. 14. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 77, p. 81. O'Malley (Luke O'Malley's Collection of Irish Music), 1976; No. 97, p. 49. Russell (The Piper's Chair), 1989; p. 12. Sullivan (Session Tunes, vol. 2), No. 29, p. 12. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, vol. 1), 1999; p. 35.

Recorded sources: - Front Hall, How To Change a Flat Tire – "A Point of Departure." Shanachie 79021, "Chieftains #1." Topic Records 12T176, Jimmy Power, Lucy Farr & Andy O'Boyle – "Paddy in the Smoke: Irish Dance Music from a London Pub" (1968).

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]



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