When I play The Earl’s Chair, sometimes I think: The Duke of Earl’s Chair. That would be a slightly Americanized version of this great Irish fiddle reel.
I first tuned in to The Earl’s Chair when I heard the Liz Carroll album, Lost in the Loop. It’s preceded by an incendiary Silver Spear, and followed by a lively Musical Priest. There’s a cool riff she does that I imitate to some extent in this tab chart.
Originally I made a music notation version of what I was teaching. That went out to the Second Sunday Session that will be meeting tomorrow.
Since then I’ve tweaked it a bit. What appears below is close to how I play it now.
Here is what The Earl’s Chair sounds like.
This is a moderately difficult tune even at the intermediate pace of the sound file. Below is a YouTube video I made right after recording the above.
At the Second Sunday Session we play the Earl’s Chair after Silver Spear, just like Liz Carroll. Well, our Chair is more of a Lazy Boy Recliner by comparison.
A few years ago, I went to the Clearwater Library to sit in on a concert presented by the Bay Area Fiddlers. I had been out of the group for a few years. So it was that I met Anson and Pat Young for the first time.
I learned before long that they were very active in promoting the group and making sure things happened that needed to happen.
I know most of the tunes we played that day. One was new to me: Lannigan’s Ball, a sprightly jig in E minor. I faked along as well as I could and resolved to really learn the tune, because I liked it.
Now I teach it to my students, using this tab chart.
Here is the tune played at a moderate tempo.
For printing, and sharing with others, here is a pdf chart. Now that I look at it again, as I put it online, I wish I had put in a grace note from the 3rd finger to the first finger in the second bar, and the fifth bar which has the same figure of notes. Feel free to add that ornament to Lannigan’s Ball and have fun at the ball!
This audio file features me playing Lannigan’s Ball as you see in the chart, then a second time with a little more ornamentation.
One morning not long ago I woke up with a head ache. Maybe it was from staring at those little dots of music at orchestra rehearsal. Or peering at the little screen on my lap top.
I took some ibuprofen, (my drug of choice), and made coffee. As I waited for the coffee to brew I was trying to remember a Liz Carroll tune. There was something about it that haunted me. But, I wasn’t remembering exactly how the tune went or what album it was on.
As I continued trying to focus through my achy head and morning bleariness, suddenly a new tune popped into my head. I’m saying it was an instant download from the Grassapelli influence. It was just there.
I got out my fiddle and Edirol. By that time the coffee was ready, so I poured a cup. By the time I had played through the tune two times and recorded it, my headache was gone. Hence. Quick Fix.
If you saw the program of The Celtic Women, you heard this tune played by a cute blond fiddler who danced in a graceful way as she played. It’s a popular session tune, and usually played a bit faster than the graceful dancing way.
One of the principles of music notation publishing is economy. Publish as much music as possible in the smallest amount of space. This principle was driven by physical constraints of material and human labor. It led to the use of repeat signs, target signs of several types, measure repeat signs, and more.
When I was putting together my book 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, I used these concepts to draw maps of tabs that were sometimes hard to follow. It gives me great satisfaction to straighten out some of these twisty pathways on this blog.
One such is the fiddle tab chart I made for Swallowtail Jig. There is one area in the B part that has stumped students repeatedly, (forgive the pun). In the chart below it is rewritten more intuitively.