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Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor

Related threads:
Si Bheag, Si Mhor (45)
Origins of O'Carolan tune (22)
(origins) Lyr Req: Sibheag Sibhor (48)
Lyr Add: Bonny Cuckoo (4)


John in Brisbane 12 May 99 - 11:02 PM
harpgirl 12 May 99 - 11:57 PM
MMario 13 May 99 - 12:26 PM
Jeri 13 May 99 - 01:41 PM
Barry Finn 13 May 99 - 06:24 PM
emily rain 13 May 99 - 07:19 PM
Harald 14 May 99 - 08:25 AM
Ewan McVicar 14 May 99 - 09:28 AM
Áine 14 May 99 - 10:40 PM
Helen 14 May 99 - 11:29 PM
MMario 18 Jul 02 - 12:09 PM
Kaleea 18 Jul 02 - 11:40 PM
Gypsy 18 Jul 02 - 11:57 PM
alinact 20 Jul 02 - 11:52 AM
MMario 16 May 03 - 10:37 AM
Felipa 16 May 03 - 02:04 PM
paddywack 16 May 03 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Jonah 14 Aug 03 - 03:26 PM
Sorcha 14 Aug 03 - 03:35 PM
masato sakurai 14 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM
Leadfingers 14 Aug 03 - 06:57 PM
greg stephens 14 Aug 03 - 07:08 PM
Helen 14 Aug 03 - 07:16 PM
alison 15 Aug 03 - 02:01 AM
keberoxu 18 Apr 16 - 01:23 PM
Helen 18 Apr 16 - 03:28 PM
keberoxu 19 Apr 16 - 02:11 PM
Helen 19 Apr 16 - 03:43 PM
GUEST 20 Apr 16 - 03:47 AM
Helen 20 Apr 16 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 30 Nov 16 - 06:34 AM
JMB 30 Nov 16 - 11:53 AM
leeneia 30 Nov 16 - 06:54 PM
Tattie Bogle 30 Nov 16 - 08:37 PM
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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: FAIRY HILLS / SI BHEAG SI MHOR
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 12 May 99 - 11:02 PM

I have a feeling that this has been posted recently, but could not find it. This is apparently O'carolan's first/earliest composition which he based on an existing Irish folk song. Hope that Bruce or Harpgirl can elaborate. Regards, John

FAIRY HILLS

Melody SI BHEAG SI MHOR, ABC Seq. by Henrik Norbeck

Long long ago in this ancient land
A battle took place where two hills now stand
And on the plain there lay the slain
For neither the battle was won.

2. So the bard did sing of these fairy hills
Where bloom the white flowers and daffodils
One big one small Si Bheag Si Mhor
And never the battle is won.

3. Beneath these hills great heroes lie
Of the Red Branch Knights and their ancient foe
In still of night the immortals fight
But never the battle is won.

4. And so the harper was told these fairy tales
Of these fairy hills of the ancient Gaels
One big one small Si Bheag Si Mhor
And never the battle is won.

5. Twas after the battle the prophet foretold
No rest would be found for these warriors bold
Till they unite and fight one common foe
And then would the battle be won.

6. So then the harper wrote of these fairy hills
Where bloom the white flowers and daffodils
One big one small Si Bheag Si Mhor
And never the battle is won. P>

X:23 T:Sheebeg and Sheemore/Si Bheag Si Mhor R:Other O:Ireland M:3/4 C:Turlough O'Carolan K:D de|f2fe d2|d2de d2|B4A2|F4 A2|BABc d2|e4 de|f4 e2|d4 f2|B4e2|A4d2|F4E2|D4f2| B4e2|A4dc|(d6|d4)::de|f3ed2|ed ega2|b4 a2|f4ed| e4a2|f4e2|d4B2|B4BA|F4E2|D4f2|B4e2|A4a2|ba gf ed|e4 dc|(d6|d4):|


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: harpgirl
Date: 12 May 99 - 11:57 PM

Hello John,
I am not familiar with this composition. I am also not in Dr. Olson's league with regard to old song knowledge. He will undoubtedly know it if we can lure him back. Helen might also know it since she is a real Irish harper. Helen? harpgirl


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: MMario
Date: 13 May 99 - 12:26 PM

The tune is very popular in Ren-faire circuits, but this is the VERY first time I have ever heard of or seen lyrics to it.

MMario


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Jeri
Date: 13 May 99 - 01:41 PM

I believe the original lyrics were in Gaelic? In the book "The Complete Works of O'Carolan," Published by Ossian, it's also mentioned as his first attempt at songwriting. (There are no lyrics in this book.)

I've heard the tune wasn't composed by Carolan, that he wrote the song to a pre-existing tune called (I think) "The Bonnie Cuckoo."

I've also heard the song "Twa Bonnie Maidens" pre-dates "Planxty G. Brabazon." (Same tune)

I'm wondering if anyone has/has seen any physical evidence supporting these two tunes not having been written by Carolan?

(Method of rumor transmissal: Robin Williamson's penny whisle tutor that I can't remember the name of)


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 May 99 - 06:24 PM

Jeri, is that the same Jeri the in south somewhere via recently Korea? If so nice to see youve found your way in here. Barry


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: emily rain
Date: 13 May 99 - 07:19 PM

the original lyrics were indeed in gaelic, and i used to have a copy of it sung and harped by grainne yeates... lost it. damn.
i know nothing about who wrote the words/tune... i'd be fascinated to know more.


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Harald
Date: 14 May 99 - 08:25 AM

Si Bheag Si Mhor (One big one small) refers to two brial mounds. In one of them the remains of an ancient celtic hero (please don´t ask me who - I don´t know, I regret) are suspected. And there was a dispute between two families which one the right one is, because each of these two families owns the ground of just one of these brial mounds. So, because it seems to be a story from long times ago it is high-grade suspicious that original lyrics were in gaelic. (Furthermore I´m not sure, if O´Carolan ever wrote something in english...)


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Ewan McVicar
Date: 14 May 99 - 09:28 AM

The lyrics read as a very modern and non too distinguished addition to a fine and much loved tune recorded by Planxty in their glory days. I can't just now put my hand on the 19th C 'fairy tale' volume containing the Irish story of the battle of the two fairy hills, one big and one small, who played at the hurling, but the losing team used magic and terrible damage was caused to the countryside. I've a notion that the human musicians called to play for the game played the tune in question to calm the tempers of the players, but I may be inventing or interpolating that.

Ewan


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Áine
Date: 14 May 99 - 10:40 PM

I found these lyrics and the translation on this webpage:

http://www.dnaco.net/~mobrien/irishptr/iresongs/sibeagsi.html

However, I do not vouch for their accuracy in Irish or English.

Ó imreas mór tháinig idir na ríona,
Mar fhíoch a d'fhás ón dá chnoc sí,
Mar dúirt an tsí mhór go mb'fhearr í féin,
Faoi dhó, faoi dhó ná'n tsí bheag.
"Ní raibh tú ariamh chomh huasal linn,
I gcéim dar ordaíodh i dtuath nó (i) gcill,
Beir uaim do chaint, níl suairceas ann,
Is coinnigh do chos is do lámh uainn."

"Choiche ní bhfaighfidh sibh bua ar chách,
Ar muir, ar tír ná 'n iomarbhá,
B'fhearr an chídh 'bheith 'déanamh síth
Ná fógairt cogaidh i láthair."
Tráth chruinnigh na sluaite, bhí an bualadh teann.
Ar feadh na machaireacha 'nonn is anall,
's ní raibh aoinne ariamh dar ghluais on mbinn,
Nár chaill a cheann san ár sin.

Is é sin an cath do chráigh ár gcroí,
Na prionsaí sí ar gach taobh
Tuatha Dé Danann ag teacht 'na scaoth'
's nach iontach saolta an t-ár sin.
Is ansin do cailleadh na ríthe sí,
Na mílte díobh ar gach taobh
Ní raibh ach bruíon do scrios an Traoi,
Le méid an áir an lá sin.

Pairlí, pairlí, a chairde gaoil,
Sin chugaibh ár namhaid ó
Charn Chlann Aoidh,
Ó Bhinn Eachlainn aníos na sluaite díobh,
Is bímis uile uile páirteach.

Atá siad anois is ariamh dhá rá,
An cogadh is lú go milleann a lán,
Gur fearr an tsíth is measa dlí
Ná bailte is tíortha a bhánú.
'sé an t-éad ar dtðs do dhíbir slua,
's chuir na mílte i gcarcair chrua,
Is fearr an chóir bheith buan go deo,
Ná bráithre a ghríosu in árach.


Oh, great strife came between the kings,
Feuds grew between their Hills, because
Big Hill folk spoke too well of themselves
While Small Hill burned beneath them.
"You can never share rights to our noble lake.
Go into ranks by tribe or town.
Carry your blemish away from us.
Be happy to keep your hands and feet."

"You cannot always win every fight
On lake, on land, when we contend.
It would be good if you made peace instead of ordering wars in here."
Time to gather the hosts, make a striking force.
From throughout the plains, they come marching here.
It will never seem right to die for hills,
Beheaded in that slaughter.

This is why battle pains our hearts:
With Hill princes on every side, and Tuatha De Danann come in a swarm,
The slaughter is not surprising.
Then it is that the Hill kings lost
The thousands killed on every side.
There was no dwelling not destroyed
In all the killing that day.

"Parley, parley, oh friends and kin!
Our enemy from Cairn Clann Aoidh,
Comes from Eachlainn Peak, up our dead troops!"
Now everyone fights together.

Now none ever will say twice,
"War isn't caused by too much pride."
Peace is as good as wars were bad.
The towns in both lands are rebuilding.
Envy first, then an eager host,
Then thousands prisoners in the grave --
Better eat words almost forever
Then have angry brothers on their biers.


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Helen
Date: 14 May 99 - 11:29 PM

I don't know much about the origins of this song, although I can do a bit of looking up in my copy of Bunting (17th Century book of harp tunes). Most of them are just tunes without words, and I haven't *read* the book so I don't know what sort of information is in it about individual tunes.

Unfortunately I have a lot of work to finish this weekend and shouldn't even be on the net but I wanted an update on Catspaw, and decided to see what else was happening in the threads. So maybe someone else can come up with the information before I get a chance to do it. Even the 17th Century Bunting book will still be based on hearsay more than fact.

BTW, harpgirl, you scare me when you say I'm a real harper because I don't play very well, but now that you have started the thread on autoharps I know what you actually mean is "real harp" versus "autoharp" rather than "real player" versus "rank amateur" (grin)

Helen


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 12:09 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Kaleea
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 11:40 PM

Emily, Somewhere I have the harp recording with Grainne Yeates--found it second hand, I think! That is the only vocal recording I have ever heard of Si Bheag Si Mhor--aka Little Faerie, Big Faerie, and she does sing it in Gaelic. What I have read is that it is believed to be O'Carolan's first tune. His son evidently traveled around and notated his music for posterity. Here's an interesting site about him (sorry I don't know how to make it a clicky!): http://www.contemplator.com/carolan/


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Gypsy
Date: 18 Jul 02 - 11:57 PM

It was the battle with the Tuatha de Dannan. Don't quote me on the spelling. Twas a big battle indeed. Seems to me that we had a thread on this a while back, and Bruce O did indeed put this tuppence worth in.


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Subject: RE: NEW LYR/MUS: Fairy Hills/Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: alinact
Date: 20 Jul 02 - 11:52 AM

I don't think it's been mentioned above, but The Wolfetones recorded The Fairy Hills (as posted by John in Brisbane) on their Belt of the Celts album.

Allan


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: MMario
Date: 16 May 03 - 10:37 AM

The Bunting version of 'The Bonny Cuckoo' from his 1840 collection

His source listed as "Ballinascreen and from the late H. Joy. Esq. Belfast, 1793"

Per O'Sullivan & O Suilleabhain Bunting noted: "From this aincient melody . . .another tune "The little and great mountain (Sí beag, Sí mór) seems to have been arranged with some slight variations."

X:1
T:The Bonny Cuckoo
N:O'Sullivan &Osuilleabhain - from Bunting
I:abc2nwc
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:D
z4zA|d3/2 e/2 f f e d|B2A F2A|A3/2 B/2 d e2d|f2e d2f|
B2e A2B|F2E/2 D/2 E2A|A B d e3/2 d/2 e|f2e d2|]

My bounny cuckoo, I tell you true,
That through the groves I'll rove with you;
I'll rove with you until the spring,
And them my cuckoo shall sweetly sing.
Suckoo, sing girls, let no one tell,
Until I settle my seasons well.

The ash and the hasel shall mourning say,
My bonny cuckoo, don't go away'
Don't go away, but tarry here,
And make the season last all the year.
Don't go away, but tarry here,
and make the season last all the year.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Felipa
Date: 16 May 03 - 02:04 PM

thanks MMario
For further background info. on the Bonny Cuckoo see Bonny Shaljean's recent message at this Sí Beag - Sí Mór thread and my message at bonny cuckoo


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: paddywack
Date: 16 May 03 - 06:52 PM

If you look on the trad' gold website you will notice that it has the title "She bang, she bong".I know you can loose something in the translation but that it is taking it a little to far.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: GUEST,Jonah
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:26 PM

I need to hear the tune "Si Bheag, Si Mhor" asap, so I can learn it for a gig this weekend.
Does anyone have a link to a midi file or something?
Messages from a separate thread transferred to this one. --JoeClone


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Subject: RE: Tune Request: Si Bheag, Si Mhor
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:35 PM

Click! and when you get there, click GIF for sheet music, and MIDI for tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Request: Si Bheag, Si Mhor
From: masato sakurai
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM

See also The Fiddler's Companion -- SI BHEAG, SI MHOR for info & ABC.


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Subject: RE: Tune Request: Si Bheag, Si Mhor
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 06:57 PM

Request on Thursday for a gig at the week end for an O Carolan tune?
You obviously learn things a lot quicker than I can.


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Subject: RE: Tune Request: Si Bheag, Si Mhor
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:08 PM

Just remember(those midi versions are often a little lifeless) that the tune is meant to imitate a cuckoo(9th-12th bar). That will help your phrasing no end.


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Subject: RE: Tune Request: Si Bheag, Si Mhor
From: Helen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:16 PM

Barry Taylor's Midi's f Carolan's tunes are beautiful, at Lesley Nelson's
Contemplator site. Be warned, this whole site is addictive. I love it. It's like a picnic for the mind.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: alison
Date: 15 Aug 03 - 02:01 AM

here you go from JC's abc tunefinder..... click on the symbols at the bottom to get the MIDI.... this link should take you to the sheet music

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Apr 16 - 01:23 PM

The post from 14 May 1999, by Áine, submits the Gaelic lyrics for "Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor." , along with an English translation.

Don't know about the translation; however, I have just used Áine's post to follow along with the "Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor" recording from Gráinne Yeats' commemoration of the Belfast Harper repertoire from 1792. Mrs. Yeats recorded that repertoire on a two-disc vinyl recording, for the Gael-Linn label.
What I just listened to, however, was Gael-Linn's "Amhráin Ghrá," an anthology of eight Gael-Linn recording artists, all singers, and all women. Not all of them are harpists. And I believe that the anthology title translates love songs, which is kind of amusing: "Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor," whatever it is, is NOT a love song!

Anyhow, I can confirm that the Gaelic lyrics submitted by Áine are the lyrics which Gráinne Yeats sings, while accompanying herself with Carolan's harp music. No mean feat! That melody is not easy to sing, and although I don't have Gaelic, to my ears those words are a real mouthful, there are tongue-twisters in there. Brava, Bravissima!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Helen
Date: 18 Apr 16 - 03:28 PM

Hi keberoxu,

I have to ask. Do you play harp? I notice that you are starting a lot of harp threads, so I'm just curious.

The late great Derek Bell's version is beautiful too. I've had the recording on vinyl for over 25 years, I think, and then I upgraded to CD about 10 years ago. It is still one of my favourite albums. He doesn't sing the lyrics but beautiful harp arrangements and harp playing.

Carolan's Receipt, track 1, Sidh Beag Agus Sidh Mor

Helen


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: keberoxu
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 02:11 PM

Hi Helen, my interest in Irish harp goes back to a recording in my parents' record collection. My comments are on a Mudcat thread about Deirdre Ní Fhlóinn, because she was the artist on my parents' LP.
No, I ended up getting classical piano lessons and took that to university, where I veered away from solo piano and took to accompanying choruses and solo voice students in recital. I don't play the harp.

And regarding Derek Bell, I have not heard his Carolan albums, so I have a question: did he record these albums with a wire-strung harp (chlairseach)? He was quoted as saying that he would not tour with a wire-strung harp because keeping them tuned was harder than keeping a nylon-strung harp tuned. But I heard he did make studio recordings with a wire-strung harp, is this true?   Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Helen
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 03:43 PM

Hi keberoxu,

I'll have to dig my CD's out and check the list of instruments, but I know that he did play wire-strung harp.

Carolan's Receipt: The Music of Carolan, Vol. 1 AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson

"Interestingly, Bell plays a steel-string harp on most of the tracks -- though gut-string harps are more commonly used in Celtic music today, this particular instrument was specifically constructed to resemble the kind used by Carolan himself."

Steel strings sound unlikely to me, especially if it "...was specifically constructed to resemble the kind used by Carolan himself". I think the writer possibly used the word "steel" as a generalisation for "metal".

I'll look at each CD and report back, but the liner notes on Derek Bell's CD called Ancient Music for the Irish Harp states: "Derek Bell plays a brass string harp on Little Molly O (note, Molly is misspelled as Molloy in the liner notes), and Love in Secret, and Lady Iveagh, and The Black Rosebud. On all other selections he play a gut strong (sic) neo-Irish harp.

I have a copy of the CD called Derek Bell Plays With Himself (double-entendre was intentional, apparently he liked to tell dirty jokes) and he plays a lot of different instruments on that album. It's a lot of different styles of music, not just Irish. I had a quick look for it but it is 5.30am here in Australia and the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet. I'll have another look when the sun comes up.

All my CD's are loaded onto my computer so that I can load them onto a USB stick and listen to them in the car, so that's why I have to look through my (relatively unsorted) collection to find it.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 03:47 AM

Having read this thread yesterday, I decided to have a go at this one myself and am in the process of uploading it now.
I also discovered that there is already one version of it on YouTube performed very nicely by The Wolfe Tones:
Fairy Hills - The Wolfe Tones


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Helen
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for the link, Guest. That's a beautiful version and I have never heard it as a song, only as a tune.

It's one of my perennial favourite tunes, since I first heard it over 30 years ago.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:34 AM

I can see these two hills from my window, at the southern end of Lough Allen, behind the village of Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim. Have never felt the urge to play the tune though....


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: JMB
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 11:53 AM

I've heard it played at different tempos. There is a version I've heard by two brothers who do a slower version of it. One is playing the low whistle, and the other is playing a nice guitar part with DADGAD tuning. I play the Bb tin whistle for this song, because I like the tone of that particular whistle. It's one of my favourites to play on tin whistle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:54 PM

That's a good idea, JMB. I'll have to try that at home.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Fairy Hills / Si Bheag Si Mhor
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 08:37 PM

That Wolfe Tones' version is HELLUVA fast! Even Planxty's version is too fast for me, if not as fast as that! Much prefer it slower! My friends and I play a 3-part version, and have various amateur recordings of it. I'll check them out and put a link to Soundcloud, once I've uploaded it there.


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