Johnny Cope (2)

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JOHNNY COPE [2]. Irish, Hornpipe. A Dorian (Bayard, Breathnach, Moylan, Perlman, Roche): A Mixolydian (O'Neill/1850). Standard tuning (fiddle). ABBCC'CC'DD'EE' (Moylan): AABBCCDD'EEFF (O'Neill/1915): AABB'CC'DEEFF (Breathnach): AA'BBCC'DDEE'FF (Taylor). Breathnach (1985) remarks this hornpipe was borrowed from Scotland, and is sometimes called "General Coope" in Ireland. A set of variations printed in Köhler's Violin Repository (Edinburgh, 1881–1885) has been suggested as the source for Padraig O'Keeffe's version of the tune, as well as the G Minor hornpipe "Drunken Sailor (3)." O'Keeffe, a famous fiddler from the Sliabh Luachra region of the Cork/Kerry border in the early-mid 20th century, is often credited with devising the variations, however. Interestingly, Caoimhin Mac Aoidh, who has edited over 1,000 tunes in manuscript form written by O'Keeffe, says that the Kerry master's written version was only a two-part tune. Rather than finding variations in Kohler's or other books, it is thought by Sliabh Luachra fiddlers that O'Keeffe either wrote the variations or attached bits of other tunes to round out his version. Paul de Grae writes: "Seamus Ennis learned the six-part 'Johnny Cope from Padraig, and I believe it was from Seamus that Liam O'Flynn got it. Julia Clifford also learned it from Padraig." Alan Ward writes:

Of those we visited [in Sliabh Luachra in 1976] the only other local musician with a version was Joe Conway who played the standard march as a 'quadrille polka' and also the last two parts of Padraig's version as a barn dance which he named 'The Doon Roses'. Several of Padraig's pupils had not heard of it when we asked them, and in fact Julia may be the only one still playing it regularly.

An interesting alternative to O'Keeffe's source for the tune is suggested from a story told by piper Tim Britton, confirmed by Paddy O'Brien, related to him by a Knock-na-Gree pub owner, Dan Connell. O'Keeffe, the tale goes, learned his six-part hornpipe "Johnny Cope" from his uncle Cal Callaghan, the source for many tunes in O'Keeffe's repertoire. Callaghan lived for several decades in a Scottish community in southern Ohio, USA, before returning to Ireland, and brought back several tunes learned from Scots neighbors, which he passed on to his nephew, "Johnny Cope" among them.

O'Neill (1915) notes: "A footnote in Wood's Songs of Scotland states that this old air originally consisted of one strain. The chorus or burden of a silly song, adapted to it was the first strain repeated an octave higher. The simple air although claimed as Scotch is in the Irish style and known all over Ireland. The (setting printed by O'Neill) without the harmonization was copied from The Repository of Scots and Irish Airs (1799)."

Sources for notated versions: fiddler Seán Keane (Ireland) [Breathnach]; accordion player Johnny O'Leary (Sliabh Luachra region of the Cork-Kerry border), who identified his rendition as fiddler Padraig O'Keeffe's version [Moylan]; Julia Clifford (Sliabh Luachra, County Kerry), who also learned her version directly from O'Keeffe [Treoir]; Peter Chaisson, Jr. (B. 1942, Bear River, North-East Kings County, Prince Edward Island) [Perlman].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRÉ 3), 1985; No. 208, p. 95. O'Neill (1915 ed.), 1987; No. 112, p. 63. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1812, p. 340. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 85. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 3), 1927; No. 202, p. 78 and No. 196 (2nd tune, 4th figure). Treoir, vol. 7, No. 3. Taylor (Where's the Crack?), 1989; pp. 26–27.

Recorded sources: Gael-Linn Records CEF 069, Séan Keane – "An Fhidil II" (1980). RTE CD174, "The Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Master Padraig O'Keeffe" (recorded by Seamus Ennis in 1949). Shanachie 79011, Planxty – "Cold Blow the Rainy Night." Tara 2006, "Noel Hill and Tony Linnane" (1979. Hill learned the tune from Tony MacMahon and Liam O'Flynn). Topic 12T311, John & Julia Clifford – "The Humours of Lisheen."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Hear Kerry fiddler Julia Clifford's 1974 recording at the Comhaltas Archive [2]




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