2020-12 Tune of the Month - The Girl I Left Behind Me

  1. HonketyHank
    The tune of the month for December, 2020, is "The Girl I Left Behind Me" -- aka "Brighton Camp", "An Spailpin Fanach" ("The Rambling Laborer"), plus a bunch of semi-nonsensical names to go with humorous verses set to this tune. Those of us of a certain age may remember Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig doing this tune on flute and drum in various Looney Tunes cartoons. The Song A Week thread for this tune is here: (https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...cussionid=1574) . Barbara Schultz, director of the Song A Week bunch, says this was the first tune she learned on the mandolin. Baron Collins-Hill has a lesson on the tune (here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTXZXa00URQ) and www.thesession.org has 15 settings.

    The tune seems to have originated in the 18th century in a) England or b) Ireland. And like many things reputedly English and/or Irish, there are fiercely uncompromising views as to who is to blame. The tune was adopted by various countries' military bands as a march; here in the USA it has often been played as a departure march. For example, it was playing as General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry rode out of Fort Lincoln toward their death at the battle of Little Bighorn.

    As you might imagine with a tune that is so popular and which has been popular for over 200 years, there is quite a bit of variation among various printed sources and recorded versions. If you look up "Girl I Left Behind" at www.http://abcnotation.com/search you get over 100 results. Many are almost or actual duplicates, but it can take up the better part of a day just going through them.

    Bottom Line: I am hoping we get several versions represented this month. Here are a few to start out with.

    Don Grieser plays several variations in this video:


    Here is a nice cleanly picked version by Alex Obrien complete with a seasonal background:

  2. bbcee
    Can't wait to get this one in shape - I was also inspired by Don's GDGD version - all those open strings! - but there's lots of versions to choose from out there.

    Hoping to see more than the usual suspects posting this month, it's a good tune to have in the arsenal and fairly straightforward, so jump in!
  3. HonketyHank
    One other name for this tune that I keep seeing is "Waxie's Dargle". I didn't know what or who in the world a waxie might be, much less his or her dargle. And I wasn't sure I wanted to find out. But today my curiosity won out.

    It turns out that there is even a Wikipedia page on "Waxie's Dargle". A "waxie's dargle" is Dublin working class slang for a holiday excursion, specifically to a favorite resort area near the seashore and the bank of the River Dargle. "Waxie" is Dublin slang for a shoemaker, because of their use of waxed thread for waterproof stitching.

    The 19th century children's song "Waxie's Dargle" describes two ladies discussing how to get money to go on the excursion. It remains popular as a pub song in Ireland. I haven't checked out the actual lyrics. Presumably they are relatively clean, but probably laden with even more suspicious slang.
  4. bbcee
    This one started out simple, then just kept growing ... I decided to pair it with John Brown's March, and that was the beginning of the end.

    Two variations of John Brown's, the first a nice introductory version by Brother Mark Gunter, and the second a slightly more lively one. Octave-strung mandola (a really cool change from regular mandola) plays melody first time around with mandolin rhythm, then mandolin/mandolin plays the second variation.

    Girl I Left Behind is mandolin playing melody with 'dola rhythm, and a bit of tenor guitar. I wound up putting a mandola counter-melody up front in the last A part, I'm not sure why, or whether it works!

    Enjoy, and happy holidays to all.

  5. HonketyHank
    That is quite nice, bbcee. Good job with the tunes and with the mix. Please pass along my felicitaciones to everybody in the band. One of the things that caught my ear was the seamless transition from JB's March to the GILB. I have trouble shifting gears that smoothly.

    Is that your Eastman mandola? What strings do you use to get it down to octave mandolin pitches without being floppy and buzzy? Did you have to do any modifications to the nut and bridge?
  6. bbcee
    Thanks a lot, Hank. I spent a bit of time thinking about the transition, then got lucky, more or less!

    So that is my Eastman. I wasn't clear about the octave stringing - it's still in CGDA, but I substituted one of the low C strings with a D from another set, and one of the low Gs with an A from the other set, and tuned both of these lighter strings down a step. I haven't recut the nut or reintonated, as I wanted to see if I liked it first, but I think I'll make a second nut and saddle. The sound sits in a different place in the mix, and it's going to be fun to get to know it.
  7. HonketyHank
    Ah, OK, got it. That's neat.
  8. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Very nice, bbcee. I like how it just skips along.
  9. bbcee
    Thanks Louise, that was totally the intention! Easier said than done, as we all know.
  10. HonketyHank
  11. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice, Hank! All the ornamentation dresses it up a bit, and the faraway expression is perfect.
  12. bbcee
    Good stuff, Hank! Love the variations on the melody.

    Still trying to get used to you without the beard ...
  13. HonketyHank
    Thanks for the comments, Louise and bbcee. "Faraway expression" -- chuckle. That was just me trying to read the music off my computer screen. I did memorize it but for some reason I kept wandering off course. So I ended up reading it. Old-timers disease strikes again.
  14. phb256

    I hadn't played in so long that I wasn't sure I remembered how, but this one seemed worth a shot. I tried bringing in parts of John Brown as well. Unfortunately the video cropped out my fingering and picking. I'm not sure of the proper left hand technique for mandocello - one finger per fret and shift positions, or stretch to get the sixth fret with the pinky?
  15. HonketyHank
    Very nicely played, phb256. Not only is it an interesting version of the tune, but I believe it is the first mandocello featured in the Tune of the Month! It sounds good - rich and dark. I don't know about "proper" technique, but in the videos I have seen with longer scale instruments tuned in fifths I see a lot of left hand shifting going on. I would go with whichever seems more comfortable. Heck, if your pinkie is agile and long, why not use it? If not, why punish yourself trying to force it to behave? (That's my philosophy on chop chords, too.)
  16. HonketyHank
    Tell us a little about your mandocello. From what I can see, it looks like it might be European (?). What is the scale length?
  17. bbcee
    Really nice arrangement, phb256, it makes that mandocello's strengths come out. Is it your own arrangement, or are you using someone else's?

    I would agree with Hank that whatever fingering works is right - I both shift positions and use my pinkie when playing OM, just depending on what is most economical.

    If this is your first post, welcome! If you've posted before ... just ignore this sentence
  18. phb256
    The mandocello was built by Walt Kuhlman of Gypsy's Music (RIP). It's 26" scale, spruce & mahogany with rosewood binding. I mostly play bass, but got interested in mandolin somewhere along the way, so mandocello seemed like a nice median between the two.

    I pulled the notes for The Girl and John Brown from The Session, and came up with a way to sandwich them together. The versions I had seemed like they were designed to fit together, so I didn't need to get creative in the transition.

    I have found it a challenge to figure out how to play it, to what to play on it. In this case the mandolin melody works. Some melodies don't feel like they translate as well though. I think notes on the mandocello need more breathing space than those on the mandolin, if that makes sense. I guess I need to figure out my own arrangements.
  19. HonketyHank
    Is this it?


    Well actually, it looks like a slightly different design, but that is Walt playing one of his mandocellos.
  20. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Good work, phb256. The cello sounds nice—I have heard so many that sound like they are strung with worn out rubber bands. You have a nice, deep tone.
  21. Spragster
    Man. All you guys knocked it out of the park on this one.
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