Four Poster Bed (The)

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X:1 T:Four Posts of the Bed, The M:C| L:1/8 Q:220 S:John Doherty R:polka Z:Philippe Varlet K:D e2 ef e2 ef | edcB A2 E2 | A2 e2 f2 fe | g2 fe f2 a2 | e2 ef e2 ef | edcB A2 g2 | f2 g2 e2 c2 |1 d4 g3 f :|2 d4 d2 Ad ||: f2 gf e2 fg | abag fAde | f2 gf e2 fg | a2 ^gb a2 Ad | f2 gf e2 fg | abag fAde | f2 gf e2 a2 |1 d4 d2 Ad :|2 d4 g3 f ||: e2 ef e2 ef | edcB A2 E2 | A2 e2 z2 e2 | z2 e2 z2 e2 | z2 e2 e3 f | edcB e2 eg | f2 g2 e2 c2 | d4 g3 f :||

FOUR POSTER BED, THE. AKA and see "Bobelo (Le)]]," "Four Corners of St. Malo," "Four Corners Reel," "Four Posts of the Bed," "Quatre Coins du Lit (Les)," "Quatre Coins de St Malo (Les)." English, Scottish, Irish, Shetlands; Polka, Reel or 'Programme Piece'. Ireland, Donegal. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB (Martin, Phillips): AABB (Martin). Both duple and triple metre versions of this tune exist. The melody is popular in the Shetlands, though probably not of Shetland origin, admits Cooke. Acadian fiddlers on Prince Edward Island (who play it as "The Four Corners") describe it as a tune from France, one of the oldest in the French-Canadian repertoire[1], and rec all that words were sung to it. On an early recording made for Comhaltas, Donegal fiddler John Doherty relates the story of "The Fours Posts of the Bed" and then plays the tune. His story tells of an itinerant fiddle player who finds refuge for the night in a cottage which lacks a bed for him. Not wanting to be inhospitable, the man of the house fashions a bed, and in return the fiddler composes a tune to thank him. Under the title "Four Corners of St. Malo (The)" the melody was recorded for Philo by French-Canadian fiddler Henri Landry, and it was in the repertoire of Prince Edward Island's Louise Arsenault's father.

See also Louis "Pitou" Boudreault's related tune "Bobelo (Le)."

A fiddler often dramatizes a 'four-poster' bed in the second strain of the tune by giving four taps with the frog-end of the bow on the each of the four quarters of the belly of the fiddle, interspersed by a right-hand pizzicato. As has been noted by any fiddler who attempts to play this tune in the traditional manner, tapping the metal end of the frog on the belly of the violin often produces nicks and dings in the wood (or worse!). This practice is widespread with the tune and crosses genres. To prevent this damage fiddlers in Donegal shout in Gaelic "Aon, do, tri, ceathair" (one, two, three, four) as the tap the four corners of the violin with their bow in the vertical but with the fleshy part of their middle finger covering the end of the frog.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Dave Swarbrick (England).

Printed sources : - Jordan (Whistle and Sing!, vol. 1), 1974; p. 29a. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vol. 1), 1991; p. 42. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 35. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: British Isles), 1989; p. 21.

Recorded sources : - Polydor Special 236-514, Dave Swarbrick.

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  1. Interview by Peter Anick with the group Barachois, Fiddler Magazine, vol. 8, No. 1, Spring 2001, p. 12.