Knotted Cord (1)

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KNOTTED CORD [1] (An Corda Snaidhmthe). AKA and see "Bangor Reel (The)," "Bridie Morley's," "Cronin's Reel (2)," "Indian on the Rock," "Junior Crehan's Favorite," "Knot in the Chord (The)." Irish, Reel. Ireland, West Clare. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Mallinson, Miller & Perron, Mulvihill): AA'BB' (Breathnach, Taylor). The melody is said to be the composition of the great Co. Mayo and New York fiddler John McGrath (1900-1955), who named it "The Bangor Reel" after a seaside resort in County Down (Taylor, 1992), however, this attribution may be erroneous as McGrath is only known to have composed one tune, the "Maid of Mt. Kisco." It is also associated with West Clare fiddler Martin "Junior" Crehan, so much so that it has sometimes been called "Junior Crehan's Favorite," although he did not compose it. The band Planxty recorded it as "Junior Crehan's Favorite" and did much to popularize the melody. "The Knotted Chord" was recorded as a flute duet in New York in 1937 by John McKenna and Eddie Meehan for Decca Records, as the first of "Bridie Morley's Reels" (reissued on "From Galway to Dublin"), along with the "Hunter's Purse." As a result in at least in one publication the melody appears under the title "Bridie Morley."

Although it is not known exactly what knotted chord/cord might be referred to in the title, there is an Irish folk usage of such an item as a cure for worms. It was known as cleas na péiste, and "involved putting nine knots on a string and then ripping the knots one by one, hitting the calf on its back with the string each time" (Hickey, Stone Mad for Music, 1999).

Sources for notated versions: fiddler Jim Mulqueeny, 1966 (Kilfenora, Co. Clare, Ireland) [Breathnach]; Brendan Mulvihill (Baltimore, Maryland) [Mulvihill]; set dance music recorded at Na Píobairí Uilleann, mid-1980's [Taylor].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRÉ II), 1976; No. 229, p. 119. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland), vol. 2, No. 2. Mallinson (100 Essential), 1995; No. 40, p. 18. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 1977; vol. 3, No. 30. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 2nd Edition, 2006; p. 81. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 2, p. 1. Taylor (Music for the Sets: Yellow Book), 1995; p. 30.

Recorded sources:

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's [2]
Hear several artists' recordings at the Comhaltas Archive [3], in particular the 1970 recording of Joe Ryan, Micheál Ó hAlmhain and Paddy O'Brien [4]

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