Princess Royal, aka Miss MacDermott (Carolan)

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Turlough O'Carolan: Princess Royal, or Miss MacDermott

    This is one of the best-known Carolan tunes, although some suggest it's actually an English tune -- it certainly was first published in 1730 in England, under the titel "Princess Royal" only five years after Carolan was said to have written it under the title "Miss MacDermott". It's also the first Carolan tune I ever heard, played by early Clannad on a compilation CD of live tracks from the 1970s "Irish Folk Festival" concert tours in Germany. I've loved it ever since.

    This setting is by Allan Alexander & Jessica Walsh, from their book "Celtic Music for Mandolin". I have made it into a trio of two mandolins and tenor guitar.

    1921 Gibson Ajr mandolin
    "Baroq-ulele" nylgut-strung mandolin
    Ozark tenor guitar

  2. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    A very fine and stately rendition, but it left me unsettled until I finally remembered where I had heard the melody before (in a not so stately rendition):

    Demonstrating again how melodies have more than one life.
  3. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Bertram. I don't think it's the same tune as Raggle Taggle Gypsies (which I know mainly from Christy Moore's classic 1972 album Prosperous and the first Planxty record) -- the first few bars are similar, but it then goes into a quite different direction.

    Here is the 1974 Clannad live version that I was mentioning (they call it "Mrs McDermott") -- a reminder that Clannad were once a very fine ITM band before they discovered synths:

  4. Simon DS
    Simon DS
  5. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Another sunny and bright delivery here, Simon. Now I expect to meet a wandering minstrel any time I am up in the hills, and yes, chainsaws are a regular part of the background. I admire your dedication in lugging your gear up to the location, setting it up then recording.
  6. Frithjof
    Great playing at a nice location, Simon. Some leaves cast their shadows like a gray tattoo at the soundboard of your octave mandolin – very stylish!
  7. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Thanks Gents! Yes, I really like the melodic phrasing of this tune too.

    I’d like to paint a mandolin in this style some time. Here’s a beautiful tatooed mandolin, Frithjof. -I actually played this same mandolin at one time, what seems like many, many years ago.

    When I looked at then, all those years ago, I thought it was painted with beautiful vegetation -think vegan. Then when I understood the meaning I was a bit disappointed!
  8. Frankdolin
    Chainsaws and helicopters indeed ! I feel those poor fallen trees need a blues or a ballad. Great live playing though, so you must have got some energy from them!
  9. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Very nice, Simon! I think your variant is the way the tune is played for morris dancing in England, e.g. on the "Morris On" album. Faster and more danceable than O'Carolan! I need to do more outdoors recording, but the time for shorts and t-shirt outings is over for this year here, I think.

    Your recording reminded me that I have been meaning to update my 2015 recording of this tune which now sounds a bit plodding to my ears, especially the guitar part. My new recording uses the same parts of Allan Alexander, but played quite differently (and I think better). Different instruments, too:

    1898 Giuseppe Vinaccia mandolin (x2)
    Vintage Viaten tenor guitar

  10. Gelsenbury
    I knew both the O'Carolan version and the Morris version for about a year until I realised they were the same tune! They're both great. I wouldn't know which one I prefer. Consequently, I also enjoyed both of your recordings. The fact that Simon is outdoors like Morris dancers tend to be whilst Martin is doing "chamber" music is probably no coincidence. Well played, gentlemen!
  11. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Dennis. I also took some time to figure out they were the same tune, having first heard the morris version on "Morris On" and the Carolan tune in a live version by Clannad, both recorded about the same time in the early 1970s (although I didn't hear them until 15 years or so later). Clannad used the alternative title "Mrs Mc Dermott", so it wasn't obvious from the name.

    I should probably try the morris setting at some stage.

  12. Christian DP
    Christian DP
    Simon, I have to say it again: I adore the relaxedness, with which you deliver those bouncing tunes!
    Martin: I especially like the sound of the background, which gives the Vinaccia a great support. A really fine recording!
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