South Downs Jig and Owen’s Maggot

Firstly, please don’t forget that you can purchase There and Back Again’s new album at our  bandcamp page here: For more details about the album, see here. I’ll stop posting updates here when we’ve sold enough to pay me back my investment, so keep buying!

I will shortly be writing about crooked tunes in more detail, but I thought that I would first share an English crooked tune or two with you, since I haven’t written many posts here about individual tunes.

I spent 5 days at Ruskin Mill, a beautiful place in Gloucestershire a few weeks ago, at the EAC Summer School. This was an amazing musical experience and will remain with me for a long time. When I was there, I learned a fantastic tune in a session called the South Downs Jig. I have no idea where it comes from (although apparently it passed through the hands of Rob Harbron at some point), but it is a glorious tune. [EDIT: According to Rob it is by the late Jim Harding of Lewes in Sussex and he learned it off Ed Rennie] The music is below and as you can see, it is ‘square’, bar the 9/8 bar in the B section. The ABC, for those that read it, is below the dots.

T:South Downs Jig
S:Robert Harbron
|: d | dcA G3 | EFG AFE | DEF GAB | cde d2d |
dcA G3 | EFG AFE | DEF GAB | cAF G2 :|
B | Bcd e2c | d2B c2A | Bcd e2c | [M:9/8]d2B c2B A3 |
[M:6/8]DGF E3 | cBA FED | DEF GAB |1 cAF G2 :|2 cAF G3 |]

When I play this I play it as a slow, slightly swung jig, with occasional hints and snatches of common time. I’ve also changed the last bar of each section so that it is the same as the first bar of the A section – I feel that this makes it flow from on part to the other in quite a hypnotic way. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was just how it came out when I played it. That’s “Creative Interpretation of Manuscripts”. The ABC of my version is below, minus the headers.

|: d | dcA G3 | EFG AFE | DEF GAB | cde d2d |
dcA G3 | EFG AFE | DEF GAB | dcA G2 :|
A | Bcd e2c | d2B c2A | Bcd e2c | [M:9/8]d2B c2B A3 |
[M:6/8]DGF E3 | cBA FED | DEF GAB |1 dcA G2 :|2 dcA G3 |]

I’ve been playing that tune for a few days now and found that it works quite well with a tune that I wrote on the course. It is again a jig and it is again, crooked. This time though it is more regular, being simply one bar of 9/8 to two bars of 6/8.

During the course, we were told to go away and write a tune, finding somewhere in the beautiful Ruskin Mill grounds. We were given some pointers on how to write one, but I was hampered by the knowledge that I have tried writing tunes before and they always come out unsatisfactorily. Sure enough, perhaps due to my pessimism, I couldn’t find anything that I liked within my instrument. In the final 10 minutes, in order that I might have at least something to take back, I made up this rhythm, stuck a chord pattern on top of it and forced a tune in between. The result is a tune which I initially didn’t like at all, but is beginning to grow on me. It’s called “Owen’s Maggot”.

T:Owen’s Maggot
d | dBG FGA | GEC B,CD |[M:9/8] EFA GFE D2 d |
[M:6/8]dBG FGA | GEC B,CD |1[M:9/8] EFA GAF G2 :|2[M:9/8] EFA GAF GAB||
cBA d2B | cBA d2B | [M:9/8]cBA edc d2 d |
[M:6/8]dBG FGA | GEC B,CD |1[M:9/8] EFA GAF GAB :|2[M:9/8] EFA GAF G3 ||

I hope that you enjoy listening to them. Whenever I am at home I feel drawn to the piano, rather than the box, simply because it is there, when it wasn’t during my university days. So I’ve played this on piano for you. I’m working on a box version, it works beautifully on my Preciosa, but that will wait [UPDATE: This set appears on my new box demo]. Apologies for the rubbish sound and for the fact that the piano needs a tune.


2 thoughts on “South Downs Jig and Owen’s Maggot

  1. Pingback: Guarding the Tradition Part 3 – What might folk music become? | Music and Melodeons

  2. Pingback: My new box Demo | Music and Melodeons

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