Planxty George Brabazon by Turlough O’Carolan
Turlough O’Carolan occupies a unique place in the history of music. He was the product of an auditory tradition, not written music. He is now considered one of the last of a long tradition of Irish harpists, or harpers. Current assessment is that he was not a great virtuoso. He simply wrote and played great tunes.
Being blind, he was not able to write his music. Yet, his tunes got written down and we have them today. They are still played,
mainly at Irish sessions, along with the usual jigs and reels.
The story goes that he met the violin virtuoso and composer, Francesco Geminiani. They exchanged musical ideas, including O’Carolan’s Concerto, an extended piece that is still played today. Unfortunately Geminiani died soon after in Dublin.
O’Carolan’s tunes are played in Irish sessions and in concert halls by fans of his work. His tunes, some at least, are included in many Irish repertory sheet music books. Maybe we can say that his music has crossed over to the folk category, although it is not from the folk tradition.
An advanced discipline in music can be transmitted by sound and example directly from teacher to student. This is not a folk tradition of frolic and dancing and singing bawdy drinking songs. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The discipline takes it out of the folk category.
Collections of Irish tunes, fiddle tunes, for example like O’Neill’s carry a number of O’Carolan tunes with them. And there are a fair number of books that simply collect his pieces in music notation.
If I were to guess which ones were most popular, I would say Sheebeg Sheemore tops the list, followed closely by Fanny Powers and George Brabizon, with O’Carolan’s Draught coming up on the outside. These tunes are added to the above by Irish Tune Composers [https://irishtunecomposers.weebly.com/turlough-ocarolan.html] : Carolan’s Concerto, Carolan’s receipt, Eleanor Plunckett, Hewlett, Mrs. Mcdermott, Lord Inchiquin, and Planxty Irwin.
Originally it was Planxty Fanny Powers and Planxty George Brabazon, but modern sessions drop the Planxty. The writer of the Irish Tune Composers website says, “Most of his tunes are named after people or families (Planxty’s), usually these were his patrons.”
George Brabazon as a Fiddle Tune
The fiddle tab for George Brabazon is about intermediate level, not too hard for a beginner who has several tunes in the pocket. Ornaments are invited and will show up with most advanced players.
One possibility is playing the open E’s in the third and fourth bars, both A and B parts, with a 4th finger slide on the A string that picks up a drone with the open E. A very fiddlistic sound in any jam session.
For good results printing try this pdf version.
This tune need not go fast. Moderate is the term I would use for how it goes. Play it slower than a reel and enjoy the melody.