X:1 T:Scholar, The M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel Q:"Moderately" B:R.M. Levey – First Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland (1858, No. 39, p. 16) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D A/>A/|d/(f/a/)(f/ g/)(f/e/)(g/|f/)(d/A/)(G/ F/)(G/A/)(=c|B/)(G/F/)(G/ E/)(F/G/)(g/|f/)(d/e/)(c/ d/c/)(B/A/)| d/(f/a/)(f/ g/)(f/e/)(g/|f/)(d/A/)(G/ F/)(G/A/)(=c/|B/)(G/F/)(G/ E/)(F/G/)(g/|1 f/)g/e/c/ d:|2 f/(g/e/)(c/ d/)(e/f/)(g/|| |:a)(f/d/) d/(f/a/)(f/|d/)(f/a/)(f/ b/)(a/g/)(f/|g/)(f/g/)(e/ =c/)e/g/e/|=c/e/g/e/ a/g/f/e/| a/^g/a/f/ d/(f/a/)f/|d/(f/a/)(f/ b/)(a/g/)f/|g/f/g/f/ g/b/a/g/|1 f/d/e/c/ d/e/f/g/:|2 f/g/e/c/ dz||
SCHOLAR, THE (An Scoliare). AKA and see “South Shore (2) (The)," "Well-learned Scholar (The).” Irish, Reel or Hornpipe (cut or whole time). D Major/Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Allan, O'Neill/Krassen, Taylor/Tweed): AA'BB' (Kerr, O'Neill/1850, Songer). The tune is popularly attributed to Tyneside fiddler and composer James Hill, famous for his hornpipes. It appears in the modern collection of his tunes (Dixon, The Lads Like Beer) under the title “The South Shore,” however, the attribution to him is not firm. Set as a reel, the tune is still a popular piece in Irish sessions. The 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). The reel is contained in the Rev. Luke Donnellan music manuscript collection (late 19th/early 20th century) under the title "Well-learned Scholar (The)." Francis O'Neill printed two versions: the first, attributed to John Gillan, is nonetheless identical to R.M. Levey's 1858 setting. The second is a three-part version in his later Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922), wherein he remarks:
Long before I had any idea of publishing a work of this character, the fame of John Kelly, and Joseph P. Tamony, as phenomenal fiddlers, had reached Chicago. The measured score of their tunes, for which I am indebted to our mutual friend Francis E. Walsh of San Francisco, is incapable of doing justice to the spirit and excellence of their execution, for all gifted Irish musicians instinctively embellish their performance with peculiar trills, turns and graces, more easily recognized than described. ‘The Scholar’ was first printed in R.M. Levey's Dance Music of Ireland, vol. 1 (London 1858); and not since then until the publication of the O'Neill Collections in recent years. The tune seems to have been a favorite with fiddlers and pipers of Longford, Leitrim and Roscommon, as early as the second quarter of the 19th Century; and, by the way, our talented contributor Mr. Kelly hails from the latter county.
Dublin piper Tommy Reck’s first commercial recording (for the Copley label) was of this tune (paired with “Salamanca (1)” and “Tom Steele”).
Commencing in the early 20th century, the tune has also become a favorite of accordion players and was recorded in New York in 1921 by Peter J. Conlon (c. 1892-1967). Later, accordion players Michael Grogan, Tony McMahon, Johnny Connolly, John Whelan, Michael Sexton and Joe Derrane all recorded the hornpipe. A slowed down and somewhat altered version of the melody was used as an air for a song also called “The Scholar” written in 1979 by poet and songwriter Thom Moore, performed by Maura O'Connell, Mark Black and others .