Sergeant Early’s Jig

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X:1 T:Sergt. Early’s Jig T:Sergeant Early’s Jig M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig B:O'Neill's Music of Ireland. 1850 Melodies, 1903, p. 135, no. 725 Z:François-Emmanuel de Wasseige K:G A|GED DED|GEG c2e|dcB AGA|BAG E2A| GED DED|GDG c2e|dcB AGA|BGG G2:| |:d|gdd edd|gdB c2e|dcB AGA|BAG E2d| gdd edd|gdB c2e|dcB AGA|BGG G2:|]



SERGEANT EARLY'S JIG (Port Maor Maelmoceirge). Irish, Double Jig (6/8 time). D Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title refers to Chicago Police Sergeant James Early, a piper originally from County Leitrim, who had a store of tunes in a manuscript consisting of the first few bars of each. O’Neill said of him: “Kindly, unassuming, patient, tolerant, helpful and hospitable.”

Free from professional jealousy, a proverbial affliction, he has been to the Union pipers America what the lamented Canon Goodman was to the pipers of Ireland a generation ago--their unfailing friend in distress. An expert at putting a demoralized set of pipes in order, he had no superior as a reed maker, and although he had no monopoly in this line of delicate workmanship, the difference between his dealings and that of some others was the difference between liberality and covetousness, or between candor and duplicity. [1]

Early often played in duet with fiddler John McFadden, originally from County Mayo. See the “Maid at the Spinning Wheel (The)” family of tunes. One of many variants appears in the Carl Hardebeck (1869-1945) collection under the title “Tune the Fiddle (2).”

Sergeant James Early (c. 1840-1914, originally from near Carrigallen, County Leitrim, who joined the Chicago police force in 1874.
Researcher Fr. John Quinn identifies the several tunes in the tune family, beginning with "Serft. Early's Jig" (AKA "Sergeant Early's"). They include the jigs "Split the Whisker (The new)," "Second Cousin (The)," "Mountain Road (3) (The)," "Port an Achréidh," and "Garrett Barry's Jig" (AKA "Garrett Barry's Favourite"), as well as "Moving Bog (7) (The)" in duple-time and slide (12/8) versions.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 73. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 725, p. 135. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 25, p. 21.

Recorded sources : - Drumlin Records, Brain McNamara – “A Piper’s Dream.”

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info [2]



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  1. Francis O'Neill, Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 1913, p. 308.