Complex time

Jigs, single jigs, slides, slip-jigs etc.

Alexandrine March


I picked up “Marche Alexandrine” from an Old Hat Band recording many years ago. It is from Quebec.

I was only able to find it online recently. It’s also not in any of my music books.

Behind the haystack


One of the first Irish session tunes that I learnt on the melodeon when it was played regularly in sessions at The Foresters and Broomfield Tavern in Coventry in the 1990’s.

Bill Hartes Favourite


Learnt many years ago (1990s). A 48 bar Irish jig.

Black joke, The


A Morris dance tune. A version of this tune is known as “The Sprig of Shillelagh” in Ireland.

Blarney pilgrim


Another Irish tune learnt at Coventry sessions.



The tune is a traditional Dutch dance tune. I play it pretty much the way of the original, except for the number of times through each part of the tune. I play it as a 48 bar (AABBCC) tune rather than the ABBC of the original.

Bonnets so blue


Another tune I learnt early on. An English Country Dance.

Camels are coming, The


Written by Ian Wilson of the bands “Peeping Tom” and “Be’lzebub.”

I always assumed that the name of the tune was a play upon “The Campbells are coming”, but I’ve discovered that it is also the title of a Biggles book and the title of a film made in 1934 about a member of the British Camel Corp in Egypt.

My bet is still that it was a play upon “The Campbells are coming.”

Captain Lanoe’s quickmarch


Cock ‘o the north


Northern English/Scottish.

A good versatile tune for dances. Can be played as a march (for the Gay Gordons for instance) or as a jig.

Connaught man’s rambles


Another Irish tune I learnt in Coventry sessions.

Constant Billy


> “Oh my Billy, my constant Billy, \
> When will I see my Billy again?

> When the fishes fly over the mountains, \
> Then will you see your Billy again.

> Billy again, Billy again, \
> Billy again, Billy again,

> When the fishes fly over the mountains \
> Then will you see your Billy again.”

Country Courtship, The

An 18th century English country dance tune that later (in the US) became “The Wash woman” and then the rather insultingly cliched “The Irish washerwoman.” An insult that is probably lost upon most people in the 21st century.

Dennis Murphy’s slide

Donnybrook fair


32 bar jig learnt whilst playing sessions with Terry Fairless.

Drops of Brandy

Yorkshire Lasses

An English country dance tune that later got the name “Father O’Flynn” from a character in a late 19th century song.

T:Yorkshire Lasses [1]
A|dAG FGA|Bcd c2A|def efg|fdf edc|dAG FGA|Bcd c2A|def efg|fdd d2:|
|:g|fdf faf|ece eac|dcd Bed|cAA A2=c|BGB BdB|^cAc cec|dBd eag|fdd d2:|

Family jig, The


AKA Major Mackie’s Jig

Learnt from the playing of Bob Cann, from the west country, who called it “The family Jig.”

Frieze Britches, The


Foxhunters (jig)

Gander in the pratie hole

Gleanntan Frolics

Go to the devil and shake yourself


Hullichan jig



Hunt the squirrel


Learnt early on from somewhere or other. Most likely sessions or dance bands. A good tune for the dance “Good man of Ballangeigh”


Jim Ward’s Jig


Kempshott hunt

A tune from the John Clare manuscripts (it’s not clear whether he composed it) that has been popularised more recently by fiddle players Mat Green and Pete Cooper (see video below).


Kesh jig



Lark in the morning, The

Lemonville, The

I first heard The Lemonvile from the playing of “The Shepherds” (Willie Taylor, Willie Atkinson, Joe Hutton).

Little burnt potato, The

I first heard Little Burnt Potato from the playing of “The Shepherds” (Willie Taylor, Willie Atkinson, Joe Hutton).

It is a Canadian tune.

More info here:


Ed Rennie

Don Messer

Merrily kiss the Quaker

Month of May, The

Moon and seven stars

An English 48 bar jig.

I learnt this tune for playing with Greenman Rising. I can’t remember who suggested the tune.

Morgan rattler

I picked this tune up from festival sessions in the early 2000s, and subsequently heard it played by a couple of dance bands.

Morrison’s Jig

Munster buttermilk

Irish double jig.

I learnt this early on in Coventry sessions and I play this with a local variation. Instead of going up to the higher octave in the B music, it stays in the lower octave.

News of the Victory

I picked up News of the Victory probably after hearing it played at dances. It’s one of those tunes that simply appeared whilst practising without me being conscious of actually learning it.

Oats, beans and peas

Off she goes

A classic single jig that crops up all over the place. The A part is essentially the well known tune for singing the rhyme “Humpty Dumpty”, and for that reason it’s a good tune for demonstrating the rhythm of English single jigs.

Old favourite, The

Out on the ocean


Oyster Girl

Another ubiquitous English jig, learnt from somewhere or other.


Paddy Carey’s

“A good one”, James Winder wrote in his music notebook (1834-41). And he was right, it’s a cracking dance tune.

The name of this tune might make it seem to be Irish, but it has a quite English feel - if that means anything - and I have only heard it as a dance tune with English players. It also appears in the notebooks of many 19th century English traditional musicians.

From the Village music project:
Thomas Sands of Lincolnshire (1810)
William Clarke of Feltwell (1858)
Joshua Gibbons Tealby,Lincolnshire, 1823
HSJ Jackson of Wyresdale, Lancashire (1823)
James Winder, Lancashire (1835-41)
John Clare, the poet from Helpston, Northamptonshire.
Rev R Harrison, Cunbria. without C part (1815).
William Tildesley, Swinton, Lancashire (1860s).

Does this mean it is originally English? Who knows, but what we do know is that it has been in the repertoire of English dance musicians and looked after by them for a long time.

The A and B parts are used in the song “Saxon Shilling”

Padraig O’Keefe’s slide

Patsy Geary’s

The Bothy Band played this, so it’s probably where I picked it up as I don’t think I’ve ever heard this tune in a session.

It’s a nice little single jig.

Quarryman, The

Rakes of Kildare

Roaring Jelly

AKA Smash the Windows.

Scattery island

As played by John and Julia Clifford on their record “Humours of Lisheen”, where it is given a second name of “Going for water.”

Spirit of the dance

A very nice English jig. Apparently it is included in the Thomas Hardy manuscripts.


T: Spirit Of The Dance
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2D E2D|G2D E2D|GAB cde|dBA G3:|
|:DFA c3|B3 A3|ABc d2e|c2d B3|
GAB c3|B3 A3|cde dBG|B2A G3:|

T: Spirit Of The Dance
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj

Star above the garter, The

Swaggering Boney

Swallow’s nest, The

Sweets of May

Tenpenny bit


Tiger Smith’s jig

AKA Oscar Wood’s jig

Learnt from a recording of old English (East Anglian) melodeon players where Tiger Smith played it. A good English jig for dancing.


Tripping upstairs

Uncle’s jig

From the playing of Bob Cann, the west country melodeon player..

Valiant, The

Vergins Wish, The

T:Vergins Wish,The. JGi.035
S:Joshua Gibbons MS,1823,Tealby,Lincs.
Z:VMP/R.Greig, 2009
A|d3fdf|a3f3|d2fe2d|ced cBA|d3 fdf|a3f3|gab cag|a3a2:|
|:a|a3fga|g3 efg|fag fed|ced cBA|d3Bcd|c3 ABc|def gec|d3d2:|

When daylight shines

Willie Atkinson’s favourite