Little House Under the Hill (1)

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X: 1 T: Little House Under the Hill [1] N: O'Farrell's Pocket Companion vol. 2 (Sky ed. p.86-7) N: "Irish" M: 6/8 L: 1/8 R: jig F:http://jc.tzo.net/~jc/music/book/OFPC/jig/LittleHouseUndertheHill.abc K: D d|AGF AGF|AGF A2d|AGF AGF |GEE G2B| AGF AGF|AGF A2d|BGG AGF|BEE G2 :| P:2 B|AFd AFd|AFd A2B|AFd AFd|GEE G2B| AFd AFd|AFd A2d|B/d/BG A/d/AF|GEE G2 :| P:3 B|AFF DFF|DFF A2d|AFF DFF|BEE G2B| AFF DFF|DFF A2d|BGG AFF|BEE G2 :| P:4 B|A2F A/d/AF|A/d/AF A2d|A2F A/d/AF|GEE G2B| A2F A/d/AF|A/d/AF A2d|B/d/BG A/d/AF|BEE G2 :| P:5 d|FEF DFF|DFF A2d|FEF DFF|GEE G2d| FEF DFF|DFF A2d|BGG AGF|BEE G2 :|



LITTLE HOUSE UNDER THE HILL [1], THE (An Teac Beag Faoi/Taob an Cnoc/Cnuic). AKA - "Little House (The)." AKA and see "How Happy the Soldier Who Lives on His Pay," "Link About." Irish, English; Jig (6/8 time). England, Northumberland. G Major (Cole, Cranford/Holland): D Major (O'Farrell, O'Neill). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Cole, Cranford/Holland): AABBCC (O'Neill): AABBCCDDEE (O'Farrell, vol. II): AABBCCDDEEFFGGHHIIJJKK (Kennedy, O'Farrell, vol. IV). O'Neill (1910, 1913) finds the tune in O'Farrell's Pocket Companion for the Union Pipes (3rd edition, c. 1810) set in eleven parts, and finds an "unmistakably" simple version of "Little House" under the title "Irish Air" in The Poor Soldier, published in The Hibernian Muse (1787). Piper O'Farrell's 1804 setting (from National Irish Music for the Union Pipes) setting was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript copybooks of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman [1], and Dublin dentist and collector Henry Hudson. Goodman entered the tune at least twice in his manuscripts, the second time as a fragment (the first four measures only) in volume 5 with the note: "I copied this from a little book published by an anonymous author, in 1825"[1]. It is sometimes ascribed (by Hudson, for one) to the mid-18th century Irish composer Walter "Piper" Jackson (O'Neill, 1913, p. 183 and 1910, p. 103).

A fanciful story is related by O'Neill (1913) concerning the early 19th century Tipperary piper John Rotchford, nicknamed "Seaghan a Beannuighthe" (John the Blessed). It seems that a gentleman, one "Old Butler," of Williamstown, was entertaining one night and boasted he had a better piper than one of his guests. As per the arrangement, Rotchford and the other piper met "and played alternately all night and until the break of day, because the judge was unable to decide as to their respective merits." The tie was finally broken when a skylark, "proverbial for melody and early rising," lit upon a windowsill near where John was playing and tapped his approval of the performance as the piper played "The Little House Under the Hill," and attempted to sing along with the tune in birdsong. O'Neill identifies "Link About" in Aird's Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (1782-1797) as a version of "Little House...", and says that, curiously, the tune Aird did print with the "Little House..." title is a reel of unknown origin (for which see "Little House Under the Hill (2)"). "The Little House Under the Hill" title appears in a list of tunes in his repertoire brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997). New York researcher, musician and writer Don Meade notes that accordion player James Keane recorded the tune as "Last Bus to Drimnagh (The)." The are similarities between "Little House under the Hill" and "Mysteries of Knock."

It is worth noting that a short story by Irish writer William Carleton (1794-1869) is called "The Three Tasks: Or, The Little House Under the Hill,” published in his Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1830). It tells the tale, using folk motifs, of Jack, who gambles with fairies for riches and loses; he forfeits his liberty and enters servitude in their castle. Jack has adventures and finally escapes aided by a beautiful lady, whom he falls in love with. Alas, just as they are married Jack is awakened by his mother--it has been a dream, and he has lost his bride, but finds the gold. Carleton writes:

In the coorse of time, a harper, hearing the story, composed a tune upon it, which every body knows is called 'The Little House under the Hill' to this day, beginning with--

Hi for it, ho for it, hi for it still;
Och and whoo! your sowl--hi for the little house under the hill.

The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800. English composer William Shield employed the melody for his song "How happy the Soldier." Flaherty's version almost qualifies as a separate variation.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - flute player and piper Tommy Hunt (b. 1908, Lissananny, Ballymote, County Sligo) [Flaherty].

Printed sources : - Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 58. Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 293, p. 104. Flaherty (Trip to Sligo), 1990; p. 131. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 2), 1859; No. 143, p. 66. Hughes (Gems from the Emerald Isles), 1867, No. 11, p. 4. Kennedy (Jigs & Quicksteps, Trips & Humours), 1997; No. 105, p. 26. R.M. Levey (First Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland), 1858; No 88, p. 35. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; pp. 148-149. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. IV), c. 1810; pp. 113-115. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 49. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 988, p. 184. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 204, p. 48. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 120 (as "The Little House"). Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 87.

Recorded sources : - Jerry Holland - "Crystal Clear" (2000).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [3]



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  1. James Goodman music manuscript collection volume 5, p. 26, No. 32 [4]