Dancing Master (1) (The)

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X:1 T:Dancing Master [1], The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:O'Neill - Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems (1907), No. 183 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Ador A/B/|cAA eAA|cBA eAA|BGG dGG|gfe dcB| cAA eAA|cBA e2f|gfe dcB|cAA A2:| |:d|efg a2b|a2b age|efg a2b|age g2d| efg a2b|a2b age|gfe dcB|cAA A2:||



DANCING MASTER [1], THE ("An Muinteoir-Rince" or "An Maigistir-Rinnce"). AKA and see "Dromey's Fancy," "Swallow Tail," "Swallow's Nest (1)," "Swallowtail Jig (2) (The)," "From the New Country." Irish, Double Jig (6/8 time). A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. An 'A' Dorian setting of the familiar "Swallowtail Jig." Bayard (1981) identifies this tune as belonging to the "protean 'Welcome Home (Oro)' family." Francis O'Neill thought it "a particularly good dancing jig," but did not remember his source for it. Paul de Grae records [1]: "[William Bradybury] Ryan’s setting [in Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883], which is almost identical [to O'Neill's] but in a lower key, is called "Swallow-Tail" (RMC 100). As Caoimhín Mac Aoidh points out, if O’Neill did indeed borrow Ryan’s tune—and the supplementary title in DMI is further circumstantial evidence—there is a possible pun clue in the title, a "swallowtail" coat being the traditional garb of the old dancing masters."

Brendan Breathnach wrote an article about Irish dancing masters for the publication Ceol (III, 3 & 4, 1969/70), republished in The Man and His Music (1996). Itinerant dancing masters in Ireland held territories or districts of ten miles or so in which they plied their trade, and had friendly rivalries with neighboring dancing masters, according to Brendan Breathnach. When they met at fairs or sporting events they would vie with each other by dancing in public, to the pleasure of the spectators and the honor of the moment. Often the outcomes of these contests were moot, however, "occasionally the event demanded a victor as when a Kerry dancing master vanquished a Cork dancing master in a contest as to who should 'own' Clonmel" (p. 2). Breathnach also relates the anecdote of a stranger at Sneem who happened on a crowd attending a contest between rival dancing masters who were alternately performing on the head of an upturned soaped barrel. When he inquired, he was told that the two were "wieing" for the parish.

"Dromey's Fancy" is a related tune.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 47. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 960, p. 178. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 183, p. 44. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 100.

Recorded sources : - Tara Records 4008, "Josephine Marsh" (1996).

See also listing at :
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
See the tune in the Dunn Family manuscript collection [2]



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  1. Paul de Grae, "Notes to the O'Neill Collections", 2017